Calderwood v The Critics. Who Was Right?
First things first, I have to put my hand up and say that by the time January '08 came round I was a fully paid up member of the 'Calderwood Out' brigade and had just about had enough of his tactics, substitutions and ever changing squad formations. But now that the dust has settled on what was a fantastic last day smash and grab on the second automatic promotion place, I have to ask. Have I done CC a massive disservice?
Following the 'Yeovil debacle,' Calderwood was charged with one thing and that was to get Forest promoted and out of League 1. Failure to do that would cost him his job and he knew it. Although that can't make the job at hand any easier, he does get paid handsomely for doing it. So fair play to him for getting us up and all without the need for the dreaded Play Offs.
I will also admit to not being too enthralled by his initial appointment, but he won me over pretty quickly and I soon put to the back of my mind the warnings and taunts of Cobblers fans, who I thought were bitter and twisted at his move to the City Ground. I never blamed him for the failings in last season's Play Offs, because it wasn't entirely his team. It was mainly one he'd inherrited.
I thought this season started with some promise, despite the first win proving hard to come by. I was very impressed with his summer signings and could see the reasoning behind them and backed him and the team all the way. Throughout the season though, we stuttered and never really got going, taking until the end of it to construct a decent run of games unbeaten. Talk about timing, eh. Many fans were calling for his head from an early stage in the season, but I thought he should be given until Christmas to prove himself. By that time, it was looking as so the wheels were coming off and the season was threatening to fall away from us.
It was the 3-0 away defeat to Gillingham at the end of December that finally made me turn against CC and all that he stood for. It was one of many abject displays we'd been put through and it wouldn't be the last. I thought he should have gone then in all honestly and like many, I made my feelings known on the message boards.
Even worse defeats and performances than Gillingham and Luton before it were to follow. Swindon and Bournemouth would make those look like world beating displays by the lads. By the end of January and another disappointing showing in the transfer market, many fans, myself included were resigned to another year in League 1. I've supported this club for my entire adult life and don't consider myself fickle. I try and justify criticism and I have to say, CC was deserving of the criticism he got.
This division has been weaker than any of the three previous years we've been in it and we got out because of the failings of Donny and Carlisle. Not because of some masterful leadership from CC and dynamic performances on the pitch. Take a look at the last day promotion winning performance over Yeovil and put the emotion to one side and you will see yet another woeful display, But hey. It's the winning that counts and not one of us will complain about the result at the end of the day.
Criticism aside, I think that Colin Calderwood has earned himself a clean slate next season. I have 100% absolute faith in his ability to make good signings. McLeary, Ormerod, Hoskins, Agogo, Smith, Cohen, Davies, and even Lennon are testament to that. We can forgive him the signing of Lockwood.
He has to learn from his mistakes though and there have been many. He has to find a formation and stick to it. Play the players in their strongest and best positions and above all else, be more attack minded and positive in his outlook and approach to games.
If he can get us playing football again and playing it on the deck, he may find the fans a little more forgiving. We're a harsh bunch, of that there's no doubt and he has been criticised, but fairly in my opinion. I hope he has a successful season in the Championship and that he can build a future for himself at this club. We need stability to achieve success and move forward. I hope it's with CC, but for me the jury is out until he proves himself next season. Good luck to him and well done to him for getting us out of the hell hole that was League 1.