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04/05: Preview: Nottingham Forest
Opposition opinion
by Forest fan Padraig McKenna

What happened last season?
Paul Hart got found out and we almost got relegated.

Do you want more than that?

I wrote last summer about how our play-off (mis-)adventure had given us a tantalising glimpse of *a* future where we could build on the squad we had got and possibly start the 2003-2004 season with an expectation of progress. I also wrote that I suspected that that wasn't to be *our* future. It appears I was correct. Paul Hart had always produced a little exasperation amongst a minority of Forest supporters with what they (and I) saw as a occasional failure to objectively assess the merits, performances and potential of the players in his squad. It really bit us in the ass. I think it is reasonable to argue that the start of last season was Paul Hart's first chance to really stamp his mark on our squad. He, in my opinion, made a bit of a bollocks of it. The details of the comings and goings and not-retainings and not-comings are not known with any certainty, but we started the season with a diminished squad and we'd already used up a few years' worth of luck with regard to injuries and form during the 2002-2003 season.

When David Johnson's leg was snapped off in our sixth game of the season, it would have been sensible to assume that we were destined for another humdrum season of mid-table dronery. In fact we almost went down. We had, at one stage, the worst form in the English Vaguely Pyramidal Relational Table of Excellence and Confused Branding - or whatever the Football League is called these days. We were reportedly at one point the team with the sixth worst form out of all the professional leagues in Europe. In addition to these compelling metrics of mediocrity... we were shit - I know, I saw the games and all the horrible turgid and unambitious pretend football that almost got us relegated from Division One to Division One(!). We didn't score a goal for fifteen years. We didn't win a game for three and a half lifetimes. It got so bad that by December... _I_had_even_stopped_laughing_.

If football was always going to be like that, I would watch polo in preference. I would watch slug porn in preference. I would even watch the f***ing television in preference. It was *that* bad.

Anyway, PHart got sacked. *Some* of the ex-pro gravy-train hoppers, hobos and bums on local radio got a bit agitated and Big Fat Joe told them *all* to f*** off. We all hurrahed. Then he told us everything was going to be f***ing great and we all hurrahed again. He said 'shit' and 'f***' and we clapped and cheered. We, mostly, f***ing thought he was f***ing great, so he f***ing was. He, and we, f***ing swore like f***ing f***ers.

We scored a f***ing goal. We f***ing tried to f***ing win the f***ing footf***ingball f***ing matches.

We won a game and we were transcendently exultant - people swore in tongues and fountains of beer and soup issued from orifices. I saw some tears. (Teeeeeeeeers - like from your f***ing eyes, not like fissures in your f***ing arse.)

We had witnessed the dawning of the age of Aswearius.

It was like that until the end of the season. We swore a little f***ing less, once the novelty had worn off, and we won matches and pooped parties and finished fourteenth.

What's going to happen next season?
Every year I keep telling you, I don't know.

Actually, I was right last year - wasn't I?

So... I don't know, again. Joe has Been wheeling and dealing and phoning people up and calling them bollixses and telling them to f*** off and has so far managed to get us a few players who we are very happy to have here - Andy Impey, Alan Rogers, Paul Gerrard, Kris Commons and Kevin James have all signed. The useful Eoin Jess is hanging around, in case he can helpfully lend a hand here or there. These are all good additions to the squad, but we haven't, in my - or Aswearius's - opinion, got all that we need yet. The improving Gareth Williams has pissed off down the road to Leicester and we now have a hole in central midfield (instead of an arsehole). This is a little frustrating, as under Joe's tutelage Williams had improved to the point where he really was almost half as good as he thought he was - he could very well be a pretty decent player in the next couple of years. We've needed a central defender, or two, since Phart let Jon Hjelde (Norwegian for Held-you) go; we look like we might be partially rectifying this by getting Jon Hjelde (Norwegian for Held-you) back. (He is currently on trial/training with us.)

I think that many of us had expected Andy Reid to have gone over the summer. Those of us who thought thus might include Andy Reid and Joe Kinnear. I think that many of us had already 'spent the money' - I bought a car and a new sound card and a load of dubious punk CDs. The club were going to pay the council 4.5 million and buy a load of players. Joe's portion all went in the swear box.

So... at the minute we are in limbo. Reidy is still here, though his heart is not. His replacement, Kris Commons, is waiting on the left wing and we're all twiddling our thumbs waiting to know with more certainty that we are going to start the season with a strong enough squad to justify optimism.

JK achieved enough, after he arrived, to persuade many of us at the end of last season that we looked like having an enjoyable 2004-2005 ahead. The club increased season ticket prices and unveiled an ill-advised and offensive advertising campaign about how they were serious about promotion and asking us if we, as supporters and season ticket buyers, were. It might all work out; we might get the players we need, we might have good luck with injuries and form and we might be able to watch the competitive football team that we think we deserve... Sadly, it occurred to me whilst writing that last sentence, that I could probably have cut and pasted it from previous years' previews.

I will be disappointed if we don't finish the season in, or within a shout of getting into, the play-offs. I think that I might be disappointed.

Soundbites (from assorted Census correspondents)

"Who the f*** is Craig Ramage? Do you want Danny sonner, you took our other shite midlfielder?"

"Derby County are rubbish, oh and Gunnarson is aweful." (hmmm, is that good or bad...? ed)

"Did I mention Brynjar Gunnarsson is absolutely cack? Good luck to ya"

"I'm secretly attracted to gorgeous women!!"

"I have a tenner with a mate that Forest will finish 10 places higher than Watford or more. Sorry guys, I'm ripping cash off your own"

"i relly support ilkeston town, nottingham forest is just a club i used to look out for when i was younger & didn`t know better"

"Most polar bears are predominantly left pawed"

"Joe Kinnear has the ability to send this team up" (there's no answer to that - ed)