When Steve Cotterill took over at Nottingham Forest in October, he promised one thing. Anyone that tweeted about the club, in any way, would receive a fine. £1000 per word, to be precise.
In previous seasons, Twitter had not been an issue. The likes of Dexter Blackstock, Garath McCleary and Chris Gunter would use the social networking site wisely, interacting with fans to bring the sport of football closer to its spectators who on the whole reacted well.
Unfortunately though, that was to change, as Forest welcomed the arrivals of George Boateng, Matt Derbyshire, and Ishmael Miller, all of whom have used the site to air their strong, and sometimes, boundary-crossing opinions. Ishmael Miller was the first to fall, expressing his anger at Forest fans.
“Listen I don’t wanna here anything bout I didn’t look interested! Everyone can f*** off if don’t like it don’t follow me!!!!!!!!!!!”
This followed the 1-0 defeat to Coventry, at the Ricoh Arena, when 2,000 Reds fans witnessed one of the most sluggish, passionless performances ever from a Forest striker. With Cotterill watching on from the stands, just days after taking over, supporters could have been forgiven for expecting a fiery, energetic performance from the players, particularly Miller, who wasn’t really living up to his £1.2 million price tag. That wasn’t what we got, though. A thoroughly disappointing display, and the Forest faithful left the Ricoh requiring apologies to heal the wounds.
Miller scored a massive Twitter own goal, and he’s never really been forgiven since. This represented the big change in attitudes at the club, and perhaps mirrored the alleged split in the camp, as professional figures such as Blackstock continued to communicate in a commendable manner, whereas, Miller was acting like a spoilt toddler, who’s used to being fed positivity, and doesn’t know how to react to knock backs.
Matt Derbyshire was the next to fall. Ironic, seeing as that’s all he seems to have done in his Forest career so far.
Frustrated at his lack of first teams opportunities at Forest, Derbyshire chose an indirect route to inform everyone of his displeasure. The injury-plagued striker directed his Twitter followers to a friends’ page, who certainly didn’t hesitate to get his views across.
“It’s a joke how Matt Derbyshire is not getting a run in the team. Give him a run and a chance to play SC you self obsessed bully”
“If the man was a chocolate he’d eat himself”…. “Sadly Cotterill can’t see his team because of his own ego”
First and foremost, it was a disgraceful act from Derbyshire, who was soon hounded by Forest fans, intent on letting him know exactly what they thought of him, and his immature approach. Secondly, it was indicative of what may have been wrong with the dressing room. From being a united camp, these few tweets suggested disharmony, and genuine dislike of the manager, and his ways.
Something like this could only be a hinderance in the relegation scrap, but Cotterill saw to that prospect. A combination of his management, and injuries to Derbyshire, saw the Forest No8 excluded from squads.
To this day, some supporters and Derbyshire are still locked in a fierce tussle, with some Forest fans keen on telling Derbyshire that he’s not wanted, with his inflated wage, and dire attitude. Whilst it may be understandable Derbyshire still receives flack, for me, it’s not appropriate. With clubs unwilling to take a gamble, we’ll more than likely be stuck with him. He may not be the best player we have, but he’s ours, and he could play a large role next season, and some may be left with egg on their faces.
The last individual to tweet in anger, was veteran midfielder George Boateng. The difference being, Boateng’s age brings a wealth of respectability in his direction, hence the majority forgiving him, and additionally, his work rate and commitment to the cause when called upon, was admirable.
In contrast to Miller and Derbyshire, Boateng played every game as if it were his last, and his efforts couldn’t be called into question. Miller and Derbyshire however, went out onto the pitch acting like they’d made it in the game, and that we should all bow down to their footballing superiority.
Often tweeting about who he thought should play, Boateng cut a figure who was seemingly quite distant from the current events, as if he knew he had no future under Steve Cotterill.
Miller and Derbyshire’s attitudes could be the factor that sees them have worse careers than their potential ability deserves.
If they want to achieve success at Forest, they need to perform on the pitch, and grab the opportunity should it come along. They’ve got a lot of making up to do, and all could be quickly forgotten, if they produce the goods.