Nottingham Forest blog: Pre-season campaign counts for little

I often wonder if there has ever been a football club where the so called ‘fans’ complain as much as the ones at Nottingham Forest.

By Lee Clarke
Friday, 29th May 2015, 1:59 pm

When you ‘sign-up’ for a particular club the small print dictates that you are strapped in for the ride, the long-haul and through thick and thin. It is certainly not to jump on anything and everything when things aren’t perhaps running as smoothly as they should be.

Now, I don’t for one minute want this to sound like I am moaning at the moaners – which would be a bit ironic for starters – but some of the things I am hearing at the moment are utterly absurd.

Yesterday whilst having my usual lunch time scroll through Twitter, I saw one gentleman in particular send the following Tweet to the owner of Nottingham Forest:

‘Doncaster away!! Come on @fawaz_alhasawi1, we want better than that!’

Now personally pre-season matches don’t really carry any great significance to me. If we play a giant of a club at the City Ground I might be tempted to go along or likewise if we get a Chesterfield or a Mansfield away I would possibly go and have a look at some of the new recruits in action.

However, have we really turned into a club where some supporters are annoyed at a Tuesday night trip to Doncaster Rovers in the middle of July, for a friendly? Do me a favour!

Pre-season matches mean nothing. I couldn’t care less if the players played five games against teams I had never heard of. Friendly matches are all about giving the player’s minutes and some much needed match practice after a long summer with no football.

I remember a pre-season campaign back in the days when Paul Hart was managing the club where Forest played Ajax. We actually drew with the Dutch giants 2-2 and won every other friendly that season. In the first game of the season we played Portsmouth away. The score, you ask? A 2-0 defeat, but at least we saw us play a big club in a meaningless friendly eh?

Likewise, I have known other seasons where the team has won only one or two pre-season games yet has gone on to have a fairly good start to the season. Quite simply, they cannot offer any judgements as to how a season will pan out.

Forest finished a lowly 14th position in last season’s Championship after another season of relative turmoil and now is the time where some perspective is required, particularly with the on-field recruitment side of things.

Boss Dougie Freedman appears to have been working tirelessly on bringing new recruits to the club with his hands tied, which seems to have slipped some people’s minds.

The club can only offer 10k-a-week on wages, which is going to make Forest a lesser attraction for many players in this day and age. I would say for the manager, working in 21st century football with those restrictions, would be a little bit like a surgeon operating without a scalpel – well maybe not quite that bad but you catch my drift don’t you?

I genuinely feel a little bit sorry for the Forest boss, but listen to him talk and he wouldn’t want mine or anyone else’s sympathy. He knew what he was walking into back in February and he is embracing it, appreciative of the club he works for.

If the club – and it appears as though they have – can pull off the signings of former Derby County forward Jamie Ward, and ex-Bolton captain Matt Mills on deals which adhere to financial fair play restrictions then, I am sorry to all the moaners, but that is decent business.

Both have played in the Championship for 5+ years, both will be good to have around the dressing room to aid the younger players with their development, and more importantly, both must see something in Nottingham Forest for wanting to take a pay cut to move to the City Ground in the first place.

So what if the little git Ward used to play for Derby? He’s our little git now and if we can get him in our corner, showing the same passion and determination for our club as he did for the Rams, then we have a fairly decent player on our hands.

Robert Earnshaw and Lee Camp both played for our fierce rivals but I don’t remember such uproar when either of those two played for the Reds. Or maybe I am missing something?

If Ward is willing to make the direct move from the iPro to the City Ground, then he definitely deserves a chance to prove his worth to the supporters.

I have heard people say that they don’t want Mills because he got sent off at the City Ground back in February when Bolton visited Trentside. That clearly makes him a bad player doesn’t it (I hope you sense sarcasm!)

We also have a squad limit now placed upon us now which means that we can only operate with 25 players for the coming campaign. Ward and Mills take that number up to 24 senior professionals, which will allow one more, providing of course nobody departs.

For me the final addition needs to be a striker.

I can sort of see the logic behind a goalkeeper being touted around, but in hindsight, it would be a pointless acquisition with the club already having a stopper more than capable in Dorus De Vries and let’s not forget we could always bring a loanee in at a later date.

With Britt Assombalonga out until January at the earliest, Matty Fryatt’s injury problems and Dexter Blackstock’s age, it is going to be placing a lot of pressure on young Tyler Walker to lead the line in every single game.

Jamie Ward is competent up front but does he score enough goals to play up there regularly? Probably not.

Luciano Becchio has been released by Norwich City and if any Championship club can get him to replicate his Leeds United form of two or three seasons ago then they would have one hell of a signing on their hands.

Will that be Forest? Time will tell.

I hope you don’t read this and think ‘this guy’s just another one of those flippin’ moaners.’ For all of you who are a serial moaner then you probably won’t have enjoyed the last five minutes reading this, but not to worry.

I must also say that a large percentage will read this and agree with something I have said but if all of the ones who wish to moan 99% of the time could just take a step back and realise where we are as a club before coming out with the usual clueless comments it really would make social media a better place.

If not, and you still wish to have a pop at everything the club does, then hopefully a friendly will have been arranged with Real Madrid and the club will have secured a deal for Gareth Bale to come in on a season long loan, just for you guys!