‘Unexpected’ would perhaps be an understatement for Saturday’s scoreline, and without portraying ourselves with overbearing arrogance, it is a game we should thoroughly be expecting to win.
Without resorting to the dire, clichéd ‘better on paper’ analogy, the strength and depth in our squad should provide enough of an advantage to be able to chase a game when on the back foot, without conceding four down the other end.
Also, I think I should take my fair share of the blame for Saturday. I was on holiday last week, and when I holiday during the season, it is a terrible omen for Forest. I was away when we lost 5-1 to Wolves in 2008, when we lost 4-0 to Scunthorpe in 2006, and when we lost 4-1 to Coventry in 2004.
I was selfish, inconsiderate, and with my getaway planning, tactically hapless. I apologize, and vow to only leave the country between June and the start of August.
Millwall’s confidence and bravado, something to admire even if through gritted teeth, is something we could learn from ahead of two of the more difficult games we will have this season. Middlesbrough, who have all the momentum of a runaway freight train, and Leicester. Though the Foxes have lost their last two games, their start to the season has been blistering, and the signs are good for a team that have ploughed a lot of money into their squad after foreign investment. (Imagine that...)
We all believe in the idea of ‘typical Forest’, or on bad days, ‘bloody typical Forest’. It’s the idea that we perennially do things in a completely unexpected manner, turning disaster into triumph, and more frequently, vice versa. When things are going well we can spectacularly self-destruct, and when we have absolutely no right to succeed, we surprise everyone, probably ruining a few accumulators along the way.
I’m hoping that we have already seen the Jekyll side of our team this week, a side that can slip out of its strongly disciplined and organised ways, and we see a side with a point to prove. A 4-1 loss at home hurts, and we have already seen bouncebackability following our last dip in form.
Indeed, losing to Middlesbrough, though not ideal, would not be cataclysmic. Let’s just hope ‘typical Forest’, who have lost a game they were expected to win, bring out their Dr Hyde persona of carefully engineered passing and rigid defensive valour, and turn over a team we are perhaps expected to lose to.
If you haven’t drowned in that ocean of analogies, then pat yourself on the back. Saturday showed us that anyone can beat anyone in the Championship, and that is what makes this league - arguably - the most competitive in the world. Is that hyperbole? I would not say so; Realistically, about 18 teams from 24 could justify mounting a promotion challenge. Where on earth would you find a league where three quarters of the teams in it could all be considered table-toppers?
Of the teams that dropped down from the Premier League last year, only are an indifferent Blackburn side are in the top six, whereas Wolves and particularly Bolton have found it increasingly difficult to get to grips with a league so open and diverse.
This certainly advocates my ‘most competitive league in the world’ theory, but then again, this is coming from the same man who thought ‘Mr Tea’ would not only be a great nickname for me, but would also catch on in a flash. So I hope you only take my opinions at face value!
Forget the form book, anything can happen in 90 minutes. If Forest can find a response, and carry on doing things the hard way in ‘typical’ fashion, then our first 15 games have been a success by my standards.
Also, our game against Leicester is live on Sky this Saturday... Mr Tea is very pleased.