Freedman on surprise team selection: ‘I thought it was the League Cup’

LTLF Exclusive by Tactics Correspondent, Fifi Phoar
September 16, 2015

Nottingham Forest manager Dougie Freedman has explained the thinking behind his shock line-up change for last night’s visit to Birmingham City.

The Reds boss made five changes to the side that beat QPR on Saturday, including dropping two new signings and restoring Dexter Blackstock to lead the attack.

Despite this, Forest won by a single goal scored by Blackstock himself, but Freedman was reluctant to explain the real reason for the switches until now.

“To be honest with you,” he told LTLF, “for some reason I had it in my head that this was a League Cup tie, so I decided to give a few of the second string a run-out.

“It’s been so long since we were knocked out by Walsall that the fact we weren’t in the competition any more had slipped my mind.

“Plus, Birmingham have been dogshit for years and I assumed they had been relegated to at least League One by now.

“Whenever I’ve seen highlights of their games in recent seasons, they’ve looked dreadful and the ground has been half-empty, so it never occurred to me they were still in the Championship.

“We turned up at St Andrew’s and I told the lads to go out there, concentrate on fitness and put in a mediocre performance, as per this club’s recent tradition in the League Cup.

“I remember some of the players looking a bit confused by this, but that’s nothing unusual when I give team talks.

“It was only at half-time, when I was explaining to them the last thing we needed was extra-time so they better hurry up and lose before 90 minutes, that Lennie Lawrence told me it was in fact a league game.

“I took some convincing as it really did look like a typical Tuesday night League Cup tie out there, but eventually I realised my mistake.

“At this point we were thankfully still in the contest, so I told the team they should go out and win it for us instead. Again, this had a few of the lads looking puzzled.”

Freedman added: “Fortunately I’m pretty sure Birmingham never realised it was a league match either as they only bothered to have one shot on target all night.

“I’m pleased with the three points, but now we’ve won I’m a little disappointed that we won’t be going to Wembley.”