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Nottingham Forest v West Ham United

Filed: Friday, 26th August 2011
By: Preview Percy

Preview Percy has spent the last few days banging his head against the wall muttering "It's Mansfield 1969 all over again". So it's been business as usual then for the doddery old twit, who just had time to prepare this look at Sunday's match at the City Ground before he was carted away for his therapy session

Next up we lollop up the M1 to Nottingham for another 1.15pm Sunday kick-off at the City Ground where, obviously, Nottingham Forest will be our hosts for the afternoon. It’s on the box if you have one of those dish things.

Statistically speaking, Forest are, of course, THE single most hated club in the whole of football. This is purely because since their full name fits the melody of Elgar’s best known work so well, that song that must have been sung at every ground in the country at one stage or another. The more truthful lyric of “we’re mildly indifferent to Nottingham Forest” wouldn’t work nearly as well and, I suspect, the original version would still find favour on matchdays at Meadow Lane.

They made the playoffs last season, going out to the eventual winners Swansea, losing 3-1 in Wales after a 0-0 draw at home. The failure to gain promotion brought to a close the managerial tenure of Billy Davies who had taken over at the start of 2009. He was replaced by Steve McLaren who, no doubt, is already working on adding a Midlands accent to his repertoire of comedy voices, though to be fair he’ll have to go some to beat the Connery-esque slurrings that he adopted whilst boss at FC Twente. Having brought the Dutch title to Enschede he was lured over the border to Germany where he became boss of Wolfsburg. Things didn’t quite work out for him there though, presumably because it is difficult to do a comedy German accent without straying into offensiveness.

The season so far saw them open up with a disappointing 0-0 draw at home to Barnsley. This was followed up with a 2-0 defeat at Millwall with their first win coming up at Doncaster where a solitary goal was enough to give them all three points. Last weekend they picked up a point at home to Leicester, coming from 2-0 down to draw 2-2 with virtually the last kick of the match.

They’ve won both matches in the League Cup, getting rid of neighbours Notts County on penalties after a 3-3 draw in the first round. They made lighter work of Wycombe in the third round, running out 4-1 winners at Adams Park in midweek.

The Forest ‘keeper is Camp (ho ho). Lee Camp came in a few years ago from QPR having started his career with Derby County and was an ever-present last term. Despite having gained caps at U21 level for England, he is now a full Northern Irish international qualifying as he does through a grandfather born in that part of the world.

Their skipper is Luke Chambers. Chambers plays in the centre of defence having started out as a right back. Although he wasn’t initially first choice at the start of the 2010/11 season, injuries to and a loss of form by others saw him come into the centre of defence where his performances were good enough to earn him the player of the year award and, under the new managerial regime, the captain’s armband. Like Camp he has declared himself available for selection for international duty across the Irish Sea, in Chambers’ case for the Republic.

There’s a bit of experience across the middle. George Boateng arrived in the summer from Greek outfit Skoda Xanthi. He is of course better-known for spells with Villa and Boro’, with whom he picked up a UEFA Cup runners-up medal. After Boro’ he spent a while with Hull but left for Greece after the Tigers were relegated at the end of 2009/10. Boateng and McLaren know each other well of course (or should that be “of courshe”) from their time together at Boro’ and it was the player’s 94th minute equaliser against Leicester that got them a valuable point last weekend.

McLaren’s first signing on taking over at the City Ground was Andy Reid. Reid made his name with Forest before moving in a double deal with Michael Dawson to Spurs. It never really worked out for the player and after little more than a season there he left for Charlton where manager Les Reed apparently likened the player to Hungarian legend Ferenc Puskas. Well Reed was right in one respect, Puskas was a bit of a chubber but that’s just about where the resemblance ended. Sunderland was his next port of call. He scored his first goal in the 7th minute of the five added on by the ref in their home match against us in 2008. However he fell out of favour and was so desperate for first team football he ended up at Sheffield United on loan. He spent the last four months of last season at Blackpool but failed to make an impression there, starting a mere five times under Holloway.

There is an ex-Hammer in the midfield. Academy product Chris Cohen was the youngest player to pull on a first team shirt for the Irons when he came on as a 16 year-old sub in a match against Sunderland in 2003. He joined Forest in 2007 after a spell at Yeovil, during which he won their player of the year award. It’ll be interesting to see how he gets on with George McCartney, having been sent off for a two-footed challenge on Linda who, at the time, was on loan at Leeds.

A new arrival during the summer was much travelled striker Matt Derbyshire of whom I wrote at length last season when he was on the books at Birmingham, with whom he was on loan from Olymipiakos. He never really got much of a shout at Birmingham but when the loan ended the Greeks told the player he was free to go what with the country being broke and all. In truth, long before Greece effectively became a subsidiary of Deutschland AG Derbyshire had already been told that he had about as much future as an Athens mortgage-broker, despite picking up the MOTM award in the 2009 Greek Cup Final in which he netted twice despite playing with concussion, Olympiakos taking the cup 15-14 on penalties.

More recently they brought in Ishmael Miller for a rumoured £1.2m from West Brom. Miller has one of those splendidly biblical northern names (Where’s Jebbediah? He’s gone t’ Olethwaites with Ishmael Miller – there’s trouble at t’ mill etc). Miller started out at Man City moving to the Baggies permanently in 2008. A combination of injury, the arrival of other forwards and Roy Hodgson saw him drift down the pecking order at the Hawthornes, something that saw him farmed out to QPR where he netted just the once in 12 league matches. He made his Forest debut in the 1-0 win at the Keepmoat nd was on target in the 4-1 League Cup win at Wycombe.

Another attacking option is David McGoldrick. The former Southampton striker has disappointed somewhat since joining Forest in 2009. He managed six goals in an injury-hit season last term though he was on target at the Boleyn in the FA Cup tie last season where he gave the likes of Winston Reid a testing time.

And what of our good selves? Well in an interview pre-season Mr Allardyce proudly informed us that no side of his would let a two goal lead slip as we had done up at Wigan. I suppose he’s been right – after all we were only one up against Leeds and Aldershot and we were level against Cardiff. Ok in midweek it was a virtual second string eleven but it was a bit worrying that so few players took the opportunity to press claims for first team status. Junior Stanislas was one of the few to impress (insofar as anyone did impress) and he will probably be in the squad for Sunday. Pablo Barrera was taken off early on Wednesday, presumably because check-in at Stansted Airport was closing. We’ve seen the last of him and, I suspect the same is now true of Scott Parker. At time of writing “talks are taking place” so it seems unlikely to me that he’ll be about on Sunday. That being the case he goes at least with my thanks for the past and best wishes for the future in recognition of the sacrifice he is making by going to N17.

The imminent departure of Parker may have a beneficial effect on the midfield where one gets the impression that players have, in recent weeks, been selected because we had to. His transfer may well free things up in there where it’s looked a bit cluttered of late. A simple old soul like me has struggled to work out how we can often have five in midfield but still have no width so it will be interesting to see what Mr Allardyce will do with this new-found freedom.

Further back we can be thankful that Rob Green will be back to replace Boffin, who had an uncertain 90 minutes on Wednesday night. Hopefully the run out will have done Linda the power of good, fitness-wise. I think that Wednesday night was one mistake too far for Ilunga, whose antics this season have now arguably cost us three late goals. If he starts rather than McCartney I suppose we could we at least take him off with ten minutes left – thus increasing our chances of not conceding on 89 minutes?

Perhaps unsurprisingly Abdoulaye Faye is rated as highly doubtful for the weekend which leaves us a bit short in the middle should anything befall Tomkins or Reid. Wednesday night should have hammered home the point that we lack strength in depth and, with Faye’s fitness already in question we ought perhaps to be looking at spending some of the Parker Pounds in the central defensive area (unless of course players come in as part of the Parker deal, which rumour suggests be include a cash plus livestock arrangement).

Up front I’d expect Cole to get the nod over Piquionne – another who failed to make a case on Wednesday – whilst Carew is probably going to be better used from the bench. I understand that Sam Baldock has been having a medical (if he can get past Shaun Wright-Phillips who has been having the same medical for about five years now) but I don’t suppose that any signing will take place in time for him to be considered for Sunday.

This is a difficult one to predict based on recent events. On the one hand we have a 100% away record and we’re playing a side that (penalty shoot out apart) has yet to win on its own turf this season. On the other hand we still seem to be finding our feet a bit at this level and Forest will be a different prospect to those we have faced on the road so far. In fact they've lost only two of their last 44 home league matches. I think a win is not beyond question by any means but the draw may be a more realistic prospect so I shall opt for an entertaining 2-2 draw as we go into the international break.

Enjoy the game!

When Last We Met: Won 3-2 Our last meeting came in the 4th round of last season’s FA Cup where we ran out 3-2 winners courtesy of a strange Victor Obinna hat-trick that included a mis-hit cross and a penalty. Adebola and McGoldrick netted for the visitors. Though we bossed the second half we looked very shaky in spells in the first half, particularly when we went 2-1 down.

Referee: Graham Salisbury – Not seen this one since we last played in this division. Oversaw the Scunthorpe v Newcastle League Cup Tie the other night which went to extra time, so he’ll be happy for the extra day off.

Player to watch: Lewis McGugan – midfielder with a name for being dangerous from distance – particularly from dead balls.Top scorer last season

Daft Fact Of The Week: Every October Nottingham enjoys a festival known as the Goose Fair. During this period it is legally decreed “Fair” for men to “Goose” women in the street, as long as they are whistling the theme tune to the 1950’s tv version of “The Adventures Of Robin Hood”

(Disclaimer: as ever, some if not all of “daft fact of the week” may be made up and the editors can accept no liability for anyone who finds themselves in court as a result of the information contained therein. Disclaimer particularly applies to Manuel DaCosta)

Please note that the opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, nor should be attributed to, KUMB.com.

Your Comments

by Peter Hack
04:12PM 30th Aug 2011
''With the benefit of hindsight (I write this on 30.8.11) I am going to stick my neck out and go for a one-nil away win thanks to a wind-assisted, ref deflected own goal with Green saving two penalties in injury time.''

by nffc
09:08PM 26th Aug 2011
''The 'two-footed lunge' by Cohen on McCartney was actually a perfectly timed and beautifully executed ONE footed block tackle. Unfortunately McCartney (who was going in two-footed and landed on the ball) had been well schooled by dirty Leeds and ensured the referee made the wrong decision.

Aside from that, a cracking review. Looking forward to the match!''

by Paul Mansfield
08:15PM 26th Aug 2011
''Having been to the City Ground earlier in the season with my 'other' team, Notts County, could I mention that Forest scored their equaliser (3-3) in injury time in extra time. Sound familiar? Don't say I didn't warn you...''

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