Big Hurdle For Billy And The Boys To Clear
Ok, so I'm going to try my level best not to mention it. You know that from last week. It's not worth bringing up the frustration all over again, especially because it was them.
Since I last ventured into the blogosphere the Tricky Trees have been on an awesome run - passing a series of tough tests to their burgeoning credentials and grabbing the media spotlight as genuine promotion contenders.
The style of the wins against Leicester and West Brom and the brutal efficiency of the QPR destruction suggested this side has all the qualities needed to overcome the different tactical, technical and physical tests that make this division such a tough prospect.
But with the 19-match unbeaten sequence now over the focus will be on how Billy's boys tackle the psychological hurdle.
It is not just the end of the run that will be difficult to take, but also that it was against them and because something happened there that hasn't happened since the Burnley and Watford away days of early 2009 - the side lost the 'battle' and were out-fought.
The midfield has been outstanding so far this term so let's not jump on them for one bad game - but the important thing is to make sure that it really is just one bad game. Alan Irvine's Sheffield Wednesday are no mugs and they are not just going to sit back and let us play our way back into form.
I'm confident that players such as Paul McKenna will be smarting from that result and will be giving their all to put it behind them - hopefully that will be the case.
The other thing that makes this weekend all-important in terms of setting up the rest of the season is because it comes directly after the annual failure in the January transfer window.
Yet again we had a list of targets and yet again we missed out on them all. We're told that there is a perfectly plausible reason for each target not being signed and maybe there is....but the fact that no-one has come in the door to boost the ranks during this crucial part of the season is disappointing and does jeopardise the promotion push.
And, while we're on that I can here some people shouting 'hang on, you've changed your tune. I thought we were just after mid-table this year?' And you'd be right - that was my realistic aim for the campaign. But who knows if we'll be in this position again? McKenna is only going to get older and may not be the same dynamic force he is now in 2/3 seasons. Majewski is not yet a full-time Forest player and may be Premier League bound irrespective of where we end up. And then there's Billy. Might a mid-to-lower table Prem side take a shine to what he's done here, with them and with Preston and take a punt? It's not that far-fetched to think we could struggle to match this season's form next time - and why not go up early and 'have a go'. Do people really think Billy can't follow the lead of the likes of Pulis and McLeish and spend Doughty's dosh wisely??
Anyway, that's another post for another time but - back to the window - with no new faces the gaping hole at left back rears its ugly head once again. Cohen has been in the form of his life on the right of midfield (proving me wrong in the process, consider my hat well and truly eaten) and would be a waste there. Perch is flexible enough to 'do a job' but maybe only for home games where we have the lion's share of the possession. Faced with a tricky winger on our travels I'm not sure he'd stand up to the task quite so well. Maybe it is no co-incidence that the goal last week came from a free-kick from the left-back spot?
If Shorey really was on 30k then was there no backup option given that those wages are out of our league? Maybe there's a loan on the horizon? Teams will try to exploit this and it seems barmy that we've struggled for so long to get the cliched square peg for this troublesome round hole.
Other than that though I'm not too dis-heartened. The lack of signings simply means that McGoldrick, Garner, McGugan, McCleary will have to play more important roles which does not exactly fill me with dread. All are talented young players and have only missed out due to the form of others. But you can't ignore that the window failure leaves another cloud lingering over the club.
At the moment we're all, understandably, looking backwards to a bad defeat and yet another bad window. The Sheffield Wednesday game could either lift the gloom or deepen the Trentside angst. If the team is anything like its captain and manager they'll have the mental toughness to see it out, if they are lacking in that field it could be a frustrating February to come...
Hopefully that win over the Wendies will help to lift the angst. You can check out what else t10red has to say on all things Tricky by visiting his blog here.