Nottingham Forest supporters are used to slow starts to a season. When the current campaign started, a similarly slacking start may have been forgiven by some, as the squad weren’t able to have a full pre season together.
Nobody anticipated what we were to see.
Beautiful, dominating football leading to wins and scrappy, hard-working displays that have led to draws. Sean O’Driscoll and his team have acknowledged and shown it can’t always be pretty football that gets them through matches.
In Huddersfield, Forest proved they can play the attractive football away from home. Playing the opposition off the park, indicating that they intend to use their Plan A at every opportunity, regardless of where they are playing.
At Bolton, the Reds showed they can adapt to the physical opposition. Dominating in large periods, and not being bullied into playing the more direct approach, Forest came away with a very good draw from the recently relegated club. The City Ground then witnessed Charlton get outplayed and outfought, as Forest yet again showed the attractive aspect to their game.
The next two games were to be the more frustrating, but would’ve taught Sean O’Driscoll a lot about his players.
When Birmingham City came to Nottingham last season they were met by a Forest side who had so little, and lacked so much. This season, they came toe-to-toe with an O’Driscoll squad full of character and heart, who never give up. When Forest conceded twice in the space of a few minutes, it looked as if the unbeaten run was about to end.
That is until the introduction of Simon Cox, who scored the goal of the season, controlling the ball in the air, sending it over the outstretched Jack Butland and leaving Forest supporters clinging on to hope. Substitute Dan Harding scored the equaliser, as Forest took advantage of their momentum.
This didn’t just show the strong character and togetherness the squad had, but also Sean O’Driscoll’s ability to see something and change it, bringing on Dan Harding, who slotted in the equaliser.
An admirable 1,800 Forest fans travelled to Selhurst Park on a cold Tuesday night, as Forest faced Crystal Palace. A shocking game, and the 1,800 Reds fans should’ve been going home unhappy. The side failed to string two passes together, with a fatigued looking midfield, and an error prone defence, it looked like it would be a long night.
Crystal Palace took the lead, and Adlene Guedioura was shown a straight red card. One of those days perhaps?
Not with Sean O’Driscoll as manager. Billy Sharp departed the field for Dexter Blackstock, who played like he had a point to prove. After some brilliant work from Simon Cox, Dexter Blackstock duly poked home the equaliser, shocking the Forest faithful who were almost resigned to defeat.
There was no beautiful football in this one from Forest. Fighting until the last minute, giving everything for the cause.
From the dominant display against Charlton, to the battling spirit against Crystal Palace. This is a Nottingham Forest side that has shown it all, with only six league games gone. There’s still a lot to find out about the players. Unlike other teams though, Forest have discovered the core belief and unity that splits the good from the bad.
The rocky nature of the Championship will sure test it, but when it does, there is a great squad there to be utilised, with plenty of fresh characters, who will bring a new fight.
The longer the side remain unbeaten, the stronger the squad will get, the closer the squad will get. When they do finally get beaten, they’ve shown in the last two games they possess the resolve to bounce back from disappointment.
You can have the quality you want. You can have as many millions as you want. Without resolve, and the ability to club together when the momentum is against you, you won’t get very far.
Nottingham Forest have that in abundance. The biggest positive to be taken from the season so far.
@will_forest to get in touch via Twitter.