Nottingham Forest Show Froch-like Character
After Carl Froch was defeated by Andre Ward in 2011, it gave him the dose of the reality he needed. The hurt of a loss, and the pain of not backing up his pre-fight arrogance, was enough to drive him on to his latter thirties, and prove himself to the world.
Similar arrogance was shown towards Millwall as they arrived at the City Ground as underdogs, a week after Forest convincingly saw off Barnsley at Oakwell, winning 4-1. In the script, it had Millwall’s industrious eleven fail, falling to Forest’s superior quality in Nottingham.
Kenny Jackett rewrote this particular script, and Forest fans were left stunned. The Championship rollercoaster was going to deliver drops at unexpected times, and bouncing back from them would measure just how ‘promotion-prepared’ this Nottingham Forest side are.
How did they react to humiliation, and what positive signs can we take from it?
They reacted admirably. It was or paramount importance that Forest kept a clean sheet, which they were successful in doing. Despite many demands that Forest reacted with an instant win, it was also crucial that they didn’t lose which in turn would’ve lost them more ground on the playoffs.
Supporters had a point, questioning the timing of the substitutions on the night. The blow of a late goal from Boro however, would’ve arguably been more painful than the humiliation of Millwall. ‘SOD’s’ plan to play it safe in hindsight, after the results that followed, was correct.
A Middlesborough side fully gelled and accustomed to playing with each other, had been halted by Forest, with a character-filled display that amplified the message to the rest of the league that the Millwall performance was a one-off.
Carl Froch fought back from his defeat to Andre Ward by inviting Lucian Bute to Nottingham. Like Boro, Bute boasted a brilliant record. Like Forest, Froch flouted courage and imposed himself on the encounter, regaining his reputation and avoiding further embarrassment. It seems Froch and Forest have a little more than just a hometown in common.
Leicester City away was another test of strength. Favourites for promotion coupled with Forest’s poor record in Leicester, it was sure to end badly. Sean O’Driscoll’s men saw to this though, and ground out a draw after falling behind twice.
A short-term analysis of games like Leicester and Middlesborough, would be that it’s a point gained in both. It’s a lot more than that, though. In games like these, Forest are having to form a backbone, something Leciester City and Middlesborough completed in a year. Regardless of money spent, a backbone is a unique attribute in football, that takes time. Forest are rushing this process along a tad, with injuries and suspensions providing hurdles for Sean O’Driscoll to overcome.
O’Driscoll often refers to the ‘process’. The fact Forest have a ‘process’ manager, may leave them one step ahead. The likes of Man City underwent this process, but in the hands of two different managers. Whilst they have a Premier League backbone, a European one is still yet to be discovered. Hundreds of millions spent and purchased wisely, yet the backbone is something money can’t necessarily buy.
On the same day, Carl Froch prepared to go toe-to-toe with Yusef Mak, and Forest supporters readied themselves for ‘Semedo Day’ (Forest V Sheffield Wednesday also took place).
A more cautious approach was taken to Sheff Wed, after many assumptions about Millwall. 4,500 travelled from Sheffield, who did their utmost to aid their team in turning around their fortunes. In what was viewed as ‘another one of those days’ for Sheffield Wednesday, Forest collected a much needed win to keep in touch with the playoffs.
A vastly weakened Forest defence against a pacey, counter-attacking outfit who could also boast set-pieces as one of their main strengths. A massive three points to come away with, but many will still be critical.
With seventeen games passed, the script despite its scribbles, has kept relatively to how people imagined. A steady start, to peak after Christmas. A pre-season prediction made by the majority, yet forgotten amidst the drama.
An expectant Nottingham public then waited the night for one of its own. Carl Froch, sporting the Tricky Tree logo on his waist, put Yusaf Mack on the floor in the third round and made us proud once again.
The race is on between Nottingham Forest and Carl Froch, to put the City Ground on the wider, global scale once again.
Will Forest win promotion to the Premiership and the City Ground be in the limelight? Or will it be Carl Froch getting the fight he’s dreaming of, against one of Mikel Kessler or Andre Ward?
The people of Nottingham can be proud of both Froch and Forest. Two famous sporting names, putting the city on the map again for all the right reasons. Let’s just hope the script stays true, and both get the endings they deserve.
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