06 November, 2006

It's the economy, stupid!

Nottingham Forest 2 - 0 Brentford.

There are some defenders, centre-halves in particular, that have a real economy of movement. Just leave a foot in to put the attacker off, a slight nudge in the back, head it clear, push the attacker out wide. Once the job's done, organise the back line and get back to work. John Terry has it, Colin Cooper did it, I can't remember if Calderwood did or not. But his Forest side certainly does.

We lined up in the now familiar 3-4-3 formation (with Nathan Tyson making an unexpected appearance on the bench):

  Morgan Cullip Breckin (c)  
Southall Clingan   Perchio Curtis
  Harris   Commons  

Never have I seen such a one-sided forty-five minutes of football as the first half. The chant "Easy, Easy" was written for this game. We controlled the game, playing short passes between our players. Every time Brentford tried an attack, we simply snuffed out the threat. Morgan and Breckin started 'Beckinbauering' upfield. Clingan repeated his midfield general show, starting everything and closing them down. The only downside was Agogo - he was being marked out of the game, often with three men on him. But, the upside was that this left space for the other attackers. And this space paid dividends when we won a free kick from about twenty-five yards out. 'Commons, top right' said the bloke in front of me. 'Southall, top left' thought I. In fact, scuffed and trickle in bottom left was the outcome. But a goal is a goal. A bit later, another free kick in much the same position. 'Commons, top left' said the bloke in front of me. 'Southall, top right', thinking it must be this time. But no, scuffed and trickle in bottom left. Again.

And this is where the economy kicked in. As far as Forest were concerned, it was job done at half time. So we didn't bother playing the second half. Brentford had most of the possession but still couldn't do anything with it. The ground fell silent, the game was dull. The highlights were chants of 'David Platt, what a wanker', boos for Neil Harris (not from me but from a not-insignificant proportion of the Trent End) and a bat getting utterly confused and spending at least twenty minutes swooping over the players heads. Then, just as the bat managed to clear the gap between Trent End and Main Stand, Tyson came on for Agogo - boos for Agogo coming off, although he looked knackered and frustrated, massive cheers for Tyson coming on. The great thing to see is that he lost none of his pace. At one point he was running up the left wing, the defender caught up with him ('ha! think you can outrun me' you could see him thinking). So Nathan just stepped up a gear and left him for dead. And the skill was on show as well, step overs, back-heels and a fantastic reverse over the shoulder lob-type-thing to keep the ball in play. To try and liven things up (it was still pretty dull) Colinwood took off Harris (cheers) and Commons, replacing them with Lester and Grolt. It didn't really make any difference to the entertainment value.

Full time, an utterly dull second half but job done. Rish questioned later what would happen if we played for ninety minutes. I'm sure that, as far as Colinwood was concerned, we did. Why waste energy on scoring a third when you are two goals up? Why concentrate on keeping possession when they don't look like scoring? Just because it's not great to watch, just because we didn't rip them apart doesn't mean we didn't play for ninety minutes. One of the blokes behind me said "how come we don't have the killer instinct any more - we never seem to score four or five" - well I don't ever remember us having a killer instinct; sitting back and soaking up the pressure has been our way for about thirty years. So I suppose Colinwood is in good company.

Lastly, a quick mention for Leroy Rosenior. Listening to the Fulham game on my drive down I was thinking their full-back sounds familiar - it turns out it's Leroy's son. Rosenior Senior (sheesh) said that his players showed spirit today - well I don't know what else has been happening there but that was a worrying performance (not as worrying as if you were a Leeds fan, but worrying nonetheless). I don't know if Rosenior is not up to the job or whether Mad Dog Allen was simply one of those managers who made players better than they actually are (a la Clough and O'Neill). I'm hoping it's the latter as, from his interviews, Leroy comes across as a nice guy.

Smith - his kicking was atrocious today.
Clingan - Man of the Match again.
Cullip - another game, another clean sheet.
Commons - the same goal twice.
Agogo - tireless work for no reward.
Tyson - the fastest thing since Vance 'Chunky' Warner.

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