Where to start with this one? To be honest, I wasn’t sure if I could start this post at all. Saturday still feels too raw. What a defeat & what an abject 2nd half performance. That loss to Wigan in October was tough to take but this was ten times worse. Maybe even worse than the QPR game. Well, here we go..
We should have been in a good position to get a straightforward win here. Forest were in an awful run of form (2 wins in 20?), marooned by a transfer embargo & Stuart Pearce was hanging on to his job by a thread. We, in contrast, had won 4 games in a row, without conceding a goal. That run included fantastic victories away at Brum & Ipswich. And we’ve added Warnock & Albentosa to the squad. What could go wrong?
You’ve got to give Forest credit for that 2nd half performance. They were up for it, as were their fans. Assombolonga looked dangerous throughout & that Osborne lad looks a real talent. That was an unstoppable strike for their winner. There you go, that’s enough praise for them I can squeeze out.
Nothing particularly unexpected about the team news. No Eustace (& perhaps, with that injury, we’ll never see him in a Derby shirt again), so Mascarell starting in the pivot position, with Hughes & Bryson in “support”. Ibe’s gone to spend some time with Liverpool’s U21 team & Dawkins was absent due to “personal reasons”.
I thought we did ok in that 1st half. I wouldn’t say we dominated (which I think was McClaren’s view) but we played well, Hughes did a lot of neat work in midfield, Mascarell got a few tackles in & we were a reasonable threat from set pieces, one of which led to our goal, directed into his own net by the hapless Lansbury. Having said that, we had a few hairy moments. Forest should have had a penalty when Bucko basically rugby tackled Antonio at a corner. Assombolonga also blazed over just before half time. It felt ok though, we seemed to be in control. Sort of.
We all know what happened in that 2nd half. A craven performance that let Forest back in the game, let them humiliate us. Hendrick, in for the injured Hughes, barely had any impact on the game at all. Bryson put in another anonymous performance, Keogh was at his panicky, error prone worst, Grant suffered a complete head loss & we sank to the most dispiriting performance/result, in my view, of the McClaren era. Yes, it was even worse than that play off defeat against ‘Arry’s lot. At least we could walk away from that game with a little pride in our hearts.
What’s to be done, then? Hopefully, Albentosa can be the commanding centre half we’ve been desperately seeking for years. Let’s have none of this talk about him taking time to settle in. If he can’t slot straight into our side, why did we buy him?
That midfield three can never play together again, surely? Hendrick & Bryson (surely not weighed down by their significantly increased wages & 4/5 year contracts?) have been treading water all season & they didn’t lift finger to support Mascarell. He can’t cope on his own & clearly loses his nerve when pressed or on a booking. We need Eustace in there but are we really going to see him again after his cartilage operation?
If not Eustace, who? Thorne’s back in training but how long will it take him to be match fit? That’s a big injury to recover quickly from. It took him a loan at Watford last season to get fit & take it from me, he was half the player then, compared to what we saw when he played for us.
We desperately need balance in the side if we’re going to stick with 433. Let’s face it McClaren isn’t going to change from that formation is he?
Let’s see what happens. McClaren & this team have reacted brilliantly to setbacks so far this season. Can they do it again?
Come on you Rams!