'Tis the season to be jolly.`
O come, all ye faithful, its that time of the year again, the busy Christmas period is upon us, I don't know about you, but for me it seems to come round quicker and quicker each year. While other countries have a winter break, in Britain we pack in as many games as we can.
The good news this festive season is that we are not struggling; we are not calling for the manager`s head as we have done over the last few years. Instead Forest have a massive opportunity to cement and extend their lead at the top of League One, let`s hope we are joyful and triumphant come May.
This last month we have seen Forest go out the Johnstone Paint Cup (well at least we gave it a go), then we struggled in the FA Cup (lets blame that on the pitch and our TV jinx) before stuttering in the league (well we had to lose one game away), but we managed to get back on track against the Railwaymen (like what i did there?) when we got our best away win in ages.
Not only that, a fit again Tyson seems to be hitting a rich vein of goal scoring form, as he followed up his perfect hatrick (right foot, left foot and header) against Crewe, with a goal and a man of the match performance in the FA Cup. Yes we huffed and puffed to victory against Salisbury (who were 77 places below us) but we got the job done, and we finally triumphed on TV.
As I said earlier, we have the busy Christmas period now to contend with. So while chestnuts are roasting on an open fire and Jack Frost is nipping at your nose, we have got eight football matches to play. Looking at the fixtures we have to play, I'm not to worried, we have 5 games at home (starting with Lowly Leyton Orient) surely the Reds will capitalise on that. Plus Colin Calderwood keeps telling us Forest have the squad to cope with it, and no doubt they will be fully tested over the next few weeks!
"So here it is merry Christmas, every body's having fun, look to the future now, it's only just begun".
At the start of the New Year, one of those home games sees us take on Charlton in the 3rd round of the FA Cup. Now this should be an interesting game, the players should be really up for it, it`s a chance for them to prove themselves against Premiership opposition. Colin Calderwood can pit his managerial wits against a Premier Manager (although newly appointed Les Reed has a large coaching CV, which included a stint for England, Colin has more recent managerial experience).
It would be nice for Commons to again star in the FA cup, especially up against the returning Andy Reid. How will our promising strikers perform against Premiership and International defenders, and can the back three cope with the pace of Darren Bent?
Colin Calderwood summed it up well when he said, "It will be nice to scout a Premiership game for a change! They are a different level and it will be a perfect tie. But what happens between now and then is more important than what happens on the day, that's for sure. The City Ground will be a perfect arena and hopefully they will find a team that can bridge a gap between the divisions in the way that Salisbury have done."
Since Alan Curbishley left, Charlton seem to have been on a downward spiral, if Forest can rise to the occasion, and (an out of form) Charlton continue to be in the doldrums, then in my mind we have a great chance to progress to the 4th round. Although if we do beat Charlton I wouldn't call it a giant killing (and I hope the papers don't either) No matter what league we are in, Forest are and always will be a bigger club, and next year I reckon we will be playing them in the Championship anyway.
Of course, things can go wrong. We may suddenly hit a bad run of form over Christmas and suffer a festive hangover, who knows? I just hope to be writing another positive article for the next issue.
The Forest Players recently appeared on Soccer AM doing the "Crossbar Challenge" but no one hit the bar. If they continue not to hit the bar (too heavily) over Christmas and concentrate on the job in hand, they will have plenty of chance to celebrate in the summer.
Well for me, all I can ask the players to do over this festive period is to please keep proving that you are worthy to wear the red of Forest. I`d love us to get maximum points (not too much to ask for is it, as I have been a good boy all year). Being picky, I would like the central midfielders to chip in with a few more goals. The back three have done well, but we seem to struggle when we come up against strikers with real pace, this may need to be addressed in the future. Im definitely more comfortable when Paul Smith is in goal (it looks like the defenders are too)!
Come January when the transfer window re opens, I really believe we should be looking to add more competition all across the midfield. As I said in the last issue, (and barring disaster) isn't it nice to know that instead of bringing in players to help us avoid relegation (as we have had to do over the last few seasons), we can now target a higher calibre of player with the Championship in mind.
The club is being linked with quite a few players at the moment and in January I believe attracting some of them would only help make the squad and team stronger and see an increase in match attendances. I certainly don't want to hear excuses such as, players don`t want to come to Forest because of the league we are in, or of us putting in derisory bids just to be rejected, or we didn`t get him because of where we are geographically etc (all of which have been all used before). Forest are on the up so let`s start preparing for the Championship now. I certainly don't want to see our best players sold, we need to keep the likes of Tyson, Smith and Commons at the club, because I am sure they can perform well at a higher level.
I`d like to wish for a Christmas Miracle and see Forest get rid of quite a few players in January. The likes of, Gino Padula - Jack Lester - Spencer Weir Daley - Kevin James - Neil 'Teachers Pet' Harris - Gary Holt -Nicky Eaden - Ross Gardner - Jon Paul Pittman should all be considered for release, (they are not good enough for this league, never mind the Championship) and that would make room for two or three new arrivals.
I'm sure the Christmas Wish, from most Forest fans will be that we have a prosperous 2007 and of course promotion. Perhaps this is " the Season to be jolly!'
So finally, I hope you all have yourself a merry little Christmas, may your days be merry and bright, and may all your Christmases be Red and white.
See you in 2007