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Birtles Speaks

Sometimes there is nothing wrong with second place. Nottingham Forest are not running in the Olympics. For them, first place is not everything.

Though it would give them a shiny piece of silverware to add to the City Ground trophy room, if they were to win the League One title, that is barely of any consequence.

At least not in comparison to the bigger prize.

Because all that counts is promotion.

As long as Forest find themselves in the Championship next season, I couldn't give a stuff how they get there.

The journey is not important, only that they make it to the destination.

Some Forest fans accused Nathan Tyson of having a negative attitude when he expressed a similar opinion this week.

I am sorry, but I could not agree with him more. It is not negativity, it is realism.

Tyson not lacking ambition, he just isn't giving in to blind optimism.

If Colin Calderwood's side beat Scunthorpe today, then they will still have an outside chance of ousting them from the top spot.

But it would still be a big ask.

Even if they do beat Scunthorpe today, they would need to close a gap of seven points - as well as a vastly inferior goal difference - in the space of nine matches.

To put that in perspective, that effectively means Forest need to win three more matches than Scunthorpe in the remaining games.

That is fine in theory - but we are talking about a Scunthorpe side that is unbeaten in 14 matches and have won seven games on the bounce.

Forest are more than capable of winning at Glanford Park, but Scunthorpe still need to suffer a vast change in fortunes themselves.

So, from that point of view, Forest do need to focus on second place, before they can worry about winning the title.

Most people will know that it was Colchester, Southend and Barnsley who went up last season.

But I'll bet many people can't remember which of those sides it was that won the League One title.

Because it really doesn't matter.

If Forest lose today it will end their title hopes.

But, more importantly, it will dent their promotion hopes as well.

And, in my eyes, there is an even bigger game on the horizon, when they travel to face Bristol City in a few weeks' time.

Now if Forest lose that, it could have even bigger ramifications for them.

Let's be clear, for those who have still got their eyes on the title - even claiming second place is going to be a tough ask.

There are so many teams who are still in contention to claim it. As well as Bristol City and Forest, Blackpool, Yeovil, Tranmere and Oldham will all fancy their chances.

And this is at a time when Forest have struggled to string together two wins. That is something they are going to have to address - and address quickly. And, to do so, they need to show some character.

People ask me what the key to handling pressure is, how players can get through the high pressure environment that Forest find themselves in. It is just down to simple belief.

Nottingham Evening Post

Click here to join in the debate on the club forum.

The Journalist

Writer:  Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Saturday March 10 2007

Time: 11:49AM

Your Comments (oldest first)

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For once I agree with Birtles, which is rare!! Promotion is the be all and end all for us. Preferably in second spot, as the play-offs fill me with much trepidation.
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10/03/2007 13:09:00


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