Déjà vu For Forest?
Following Lee Camp`s heroics against Derby in the league encounter at Pride Park, my old man, a life-long fan who has been known to be a little on the pessimistic side towards the club`s management, expressed the importance of tying down our on-loan goalkeeper on a permanent contract. He argued Doughty and Forest would not want to splash the cash on Camp and better his wages at QPR. Instead, he said, we would look to the loan market for signings, with Doughty not wanting to risk adding to the wage bill without knowing which league we would be playing in next term. At the time I dismissed this out of hand. How could the club fail to see the positive influence Camp had had on the team, squad, and indeed, club? Surely Doughty and Co would go all out over the course of the transfer window to ensure we had both the quality and the quantity to avoid another miserable spell down in League One? How wrong I appear to have been, and right my Dad was! The transfer window came and went with no new players forthcoming, and Camp departing, seemingly for good. Did we ever intend to purchase players in the window? I think not. If we had, we would have made sure we secured the players we wanted and needed, opposed to submitted half-hearted bids on the on the verge of the window closing, when there was no time to negotiate should the bids get (inevitably) rejected. The manager`s comments yesterday only support this theory ("I came here on January 5 and I knew exactly what the window would hold for us").
While it cannot be denied the Forest board spent big in the summer, the bulk of the expense was spent on two players in Earnshaw (£2.65M) and Garner (£1.14M). The rest of the summer arrivals came in the form of untried Moussi, loanee Anderson and 36 year-old Cole. The latter has since left the club, lasting barely a couple of months, and the others are currently long-term absentees. Spending such a large proportion of your budget on two players (one of whom you knew was expected to be out until November) is in itself a big gamble, and one that appears to have backfired following the injuries the club have had to deal with over the course of the season. What is most frustrating is the fact the board have seemingly failed to learn their lessons from earlier on this term, and are set to follow the same 'minimum expense/maximum risk` strategy for the remainder of the season. This means continuing to play players out of position, and expecting young, inexperienced academy players to consistently compete against the experienced, established sides in this league - all this in the midst of a relegation battle. In order to succeed at this level, teams have to be well organised at the back and potent in front of goal. Had the chance at the end of the game last night fallen to a senior replacement for Earnshaw (or indeed Cole?) opposed to the untried and untested trainee Byrne, the match may indeed have gone in our favour. Tightly-contested games are defined by such moments.
Sitting here in Boston, Massachusetts, and comparing the squad available last night to that of last season, there were no new faces in the Forest ranks. Furthermore, alongside Perch and Tyson, who both failed to finish due to injuries, last term we had a squad possessing the likes of Commons, Clingan, Holt, Agogo, Davies, Bennett and loanee Omerod - none of whom were available for the match last night, for different reasons (barring Commons, technically speaking!). It`s not hard to see our squad is currently significantly weaker than the one that stumbled to promotion last term. How, and why, do we find ourselves in this situation? It smacks of bad management. While it cannot be expected they predict when and how many players will get injured, some contingency to such a situation is needed by the men at the top. It is their job to plan for such situations, after all. The squad was ill-prepared to tackle Championship football in the summer, and, for whatever reason, nothing has been done to improve the situation over the course of January. A combination of mismanagement and lack of investment in the side led to a shameful sink into the lower reaches of English football not so long ago. Forest began that fateful campaign at Wigan pairing 18 year-old debutant Perch with coach Des Walker, who had to be brought out of retirement to alleviate the club`s injury crisis. Only yesterday, Billy Davies admitted he was almost forced to sign up 43 year-old assistant manager David Kelly to face the Rams for last night`s match. Let`s hope what we`re seeing is prudent, long-term planning by the club - as opposed to a case of déjà vu.
Thanks to Alex for his insightful thoughts on Forest. If you would like to contribute an article on anything Forest related, you can get in touch by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org.