Nottingham Forest v Portsmouth – Time to Tinker for Cotterill

With Nottingham Forest safe in the knowledge that they’re playing Championship football next season, Saturday would surely be the ideal stage for Cotterill to experiment, and give some of the lesser used players the oppurtunity to shine.

The likes of Ishmael Miller, Jonathan Greening, David McGoldrick, Robbie Findley and Matt Derbyshire have all made contributions to the cause this season, whether they’ve been valued ones or not. Despite people’s opinions, we’re safe, and these players would, you’d assume, be itching to start and prove they’re worth keeping.

With players like Miller and Derbyshire reportedly coming in on increased wages, they’ve been at the centre of much criticism since their arrivals. Both players, in their time on the pitch, haven’t shown the hunger or desire required at this level to succeed. Miller, on his debut away to Doncaster, looked a great signing. Coming on late in the game, he put in a battling display, and caused the Doncaster defence a whole host of problems.

After that, fans were hoping it would be a sign of good things to come, but it couldn’t have worked out more differently. With Dexter Blackstock, Forest fans were used to a work-man-like figure up front, that didn’t use his lack of pace, or stature, as an excuse to limit his role to just being a target man, constantly chasing down defenders and making it hard for them to start attacks. Unfortunately with Miller, we have a player who possesses all of the attributes to be a top player at this level, but doesn’t maximise his potential often enough. His tendency to throw a Balotelli-like strop when things weren’t going his way added to fans’ frustrations, as this attitude, and his poor work rate, suggested he thought he was above everyone else in terms of ability.

Matt Derbyshire, the man that is seen either on the floor appealing, after just dropping theatrically, or… In fact, on the floor appealing after dropping theatrically is probably the only place we’ve seen him. Having suffered the humiliation of twice coming on as a substitution, and going back off again, you’d hope he’d be full of hunger, eager to prove everyone wrong. His lack of desire when on the pitch, and his antics on Twitter off it, may indicate this is a guy that thinks he’s made it, and doesn’t have to prove it to anyone.

However, Derbyshire would argue he’s never really been 100% fit, having not played for a year until joining Forest. Despite the initial disappointment of this signing, Derbyshire is the most suited to the free, flowing football Forest having been playing of late, and if brought back in, could flourish.

David McGoldrick hasn’t started once for Cotterill, and looks as if he’s out of the door, but to be out of the door, he needs interested parties. By giving him the chance in the meaningless last game of the season, it might remind clubs of the forgotten man, and Forest could profit. Robbie Findley came back and impressed after coming on against Hull, last Saturday. Following the miss of the season from Findley against Leicester, many had written him off, but he’s a valuable asset to have, with his pace, and couple that with a little bit more confidence, and goals may come.

When Paul McKenna was sold to Hull, and replaced with Jonathan Greening, fans were elated, but it’s not gone Greening’s way since his arrival to the club. Possibly the worst player in McClaren’s reign at the club, he soon found himself a disliked figure amongst the supporters, and it’ll take a huge turnaround in fortunes for opinions to change. Spending years at West Brom winning promotions, and seasons in the Premiership with Fulham, it’s obvious there’s a player in there somewhere, but it needs to be uncovered, and fast.

To any fan wanting to write any of the above players off, the easiest players to point to are Garath McCleary and Joel Lynch, who have both received bouts of criticism before, and bounced back, and they’re the two favourites to claim the cursed crown of Player of the Season. Lynch admittedly looked awful at times, but he’s been one of the few shining lights of a terrible 2011/12 season, and along with McCleary, are two new fans favourites, who are being begged to stay by the club.

Strikers usually hit their peak form in their mid 20s, so with Findley and Derbyshire aged 26, and Miller, 25, they will all be expected to hit their career top form soon, which leaves an interesting dilemma for Cotterill, as to whether to retain them or not.

It’s been a season to forget, so why not leave it on a cliffhanger?

Play fringe players, and you never know. Forest fans have been wanting a break from this abysmal season for a while, so using the game as a platform for the likes of Findley, McGoldrick, Derbyshire, Greening and Miller, could be a genius idea, and leave fans on the edge of their seats for next season, in the hope at least one of these players discovers some form.

What is there to lose?