Getting real

by , January 12, 2012

It’s a puzzling time at Forest, that’s for sure. In fact, the only certain thing about the club at the moment is that nothing much is known for certain. So many questions remain unanswerable: Was the performance at Ipswich an improvement for the goals we scored or a step back due to the shambolic way we defended? Can the manager be blamed if a group of players he didn’t sign go seven games without scoring? Does anyone really give a toss about Leicester City?

Yet for all this uncertainty, there seems to be a lot of forthright, self-righteous voices being aired at the moment, particularly on the internet forums. Nothing new in that, I suppose, but I wonder if the events of early October have given the cyber warriors new confidence, new belief in their powers to shape the club.

Whether the protests before, during and after the Birmingham game had any affect on the chairman and manager quitting is still another of those unanswerable questions dogging the club, as is the issue of whether it was a good thing or not. What is clear is that those who took part and those who supported them in other ways now seem to think any problem the club faces can be solved by means of a ‘protest’. Like a bad parody of the Russian revolutions they have ousted one regime and now think they can oust the one that replaced it just three months later.

What’s worse is that they think they need to. If the situation got so bad that it needed supporters waving placards instead of scarves on a match day, isn’t it reasonable to conclude that such an appalling state of affairs is going to take more than three months to sort out?

Some fans need to get real, accept the facts as they are – Steve Cotterill has another three years and three months on his contract and the club is strapped for cash. He’s going nowhere for the foreseeable future, regardless of whether Neil Warnock or any other knight in shining armour is available and willing to step in.

Let’s put some more things in black and white and see how they look:

We don’t have any money for transfers. This is the main reason Cotterill was hired, based on his work on a shoestring for Portsmouth. The way the board see it, it’s a case of right man, right time. That’s got to be better than having the very wrongness that was Steve McClaren if nothing else. Billy Davies and McClaren never ceased demanding money throughout their respective tenures; Steve on the other hand seems to have more realistic expectations of the job and, as I’m trying to make the point, a bit of realism is what’s needed right now.

Things are improving. Say what you want about our goal-less December, the real pain was that Leeds aside we could have won every game in that run and it was down to a lot of bad luck that we didn’t. And that is only possible because Cotterill has improved the way we defend, the way we play in general. Under McClaren we were getting taken apart week after week – at least under Cotterill opposition teams have to prod and probe before they find the chinks in our armour.

We’re not relegated yet and if you believe this side aren’t capable of better form than they are on at the moment you are the most joyless of pessimists. This isn’t a vintage Forest side by any stretch, but there’s the core of two play-off sides and enough quality to be competitive in all of our remaining fixtures. I don’t think Southampton will find us an easy game on Saturday and I’m convinced there are enough teams we can take maximum points from to get us clear. It may not turn out like that, I’m not promising anything here folks, but it’s certainly possible and we’re only doing our team a disservice by writing them off as already relegated.

I know I might be coming across as a hopeless optimist here, but I honestly don’t think everything is lost. Like most of us my view of the long term is pretty gloomy, but as far as our current relegation battle is concerned there is hope. What we need to do is get real and, to use another cliché, get behind the team. No amounting of protesting or internet mouthing off is going to change the facts I’ve outlined above – the sooner some of our supporters accept that the better.