Craig North’s Nottingham Forest blog: The honeymoon period is over

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Enough is enough of patting ourselves on the back for putting together a team in less than nine weeks and starting the season unbeaten for six league games.

The bottom line is we have picked up just two points from the last nine available, and have only won once in seven games. That is not good enough.

In the games at Huddersfield and Bolton where only draws were secured, the performances were excellent. The style of play was pleasing on the eye with a fluid attack minded midfield anchored superbly by Simon Gillett epitomising the O’Driscoll style of play we were all hoping for.

It didn’t matter that the games weren’t won, I could see the team progressing and football was a pleasure to watch again.

Since the international break, you’d be forgiven for thinking that Steve Cotterill has made an unwelcome return to the club with the displays served up.

The performance at Selhurst Park was unbelievably bad, and with short passes going astray, we resorted to knocking long aimless balls into the channels for Cox and Sharp to chase.

We were fortunate enough to be up against an equally poor Crystal Palace team; had we been playing a top six team, no, make that a top half team, we would have been dispatched of comfortably by two or three goals.

As I left the ground, I thought that maybe it’s a sign of what a good team we’ve become that we can play so poorly but still grind out a result, which was a similar thought I’d had after the Birmingham game.

However, all thoughts of what a good team we are were dispelled in another abhorrent first half display at Elland Road on Saturday.

So, what has brought about the downturn in fortunes after such a promising start?

Whilst the players need to shoulder their share of the blame, I’m afraid the manager needs to have a look at his recent team selections and the direction he wants to take the team in.

He has a football philosophy that helped produce those early season displays, but he seems to have gone against these beliefs in recent games, encouraging Cotterill-esque football and making some odd team selections.

The wingback formation at Crystal Palace and the Gillett/Moussi pairing at Leeds give obvious cause for concern.

It is also arguable that some of his substitutions in the earlier games, namely at Huddersfield, snatched draws from the jaws of victory. However the overall performances excused any deficiencies that O’Driscoll may have been showing at that point.

The quality of the players signed will ensure this isn’t another season of struggle, but if Sean O’Driscoll doesn’t address his and the team’s shortcomings quickly, then it will be mid-table mediocrity we will have to endure rather than the promotion push we were dreaming of.