Nottingham Forest 0 Wolves 2

When we got to spend a bit of time with Paul Lambert last month I told him there were five players I felt were our key performers based on their contributions prior to his arrival.

They were Carl Ikeme, Matt Doherty, Dave Edwards, Helder Costa and Jon Dadi Bodvarsson.

With the possible exception of the big Icelander whose form has tailed off after that international break, none of the above have let me down.

Costa has continued to be our leading light, stepping up another level under Lambert by adding better end product.

He netted from the acutest of angles yesterday and was also instrumental in Ivan Cavaleiro’s second half goal – the two bright moments of an otherwise drab encounter.

That’s why he was brought in though – to help us rise above the opposition in these scrappy, horrible Championship slugfests by providing moments of greater quality.

Dave Edwards fulfilled a slightly different role as part of a two man midfield, using his energy to close down opposition and win back possession.

He did that with great aplomb and was rightly lauded as a Man of the Match contender.

Whatever you want to say about the guy, his goals and appetite to win the ball back have kept us afloat when we could have totally melted away.

Matt Doherty has arguably been our most potent attacking force behind Costa but many have questioned whether that’s come at the expense of his primary purpose.

There was less razzle dazzle yesterday in a more steady defensive outing for the Irishman.

Personally I wouldn’t want to put the leash on him going forward. Direct running from deep is tough to defend against. But I do agree he needs to defend with greater purpose and aggression himself.

Carl Ikeme just reassures in a way that Andy Lonergan and Harry Burgoyne perhaps don’t. That’s harsh on the youngster but we saw moments of brilliance and frailty against Cardiff, suggesting this isn’t his time just yet.

Our number one was strong and repeatedly cleared out the opposition as Forest looked for a way back into the game. We’ve got to keep him fit for the remainder of the season.

Bodvarsson is the only one of my recommended quintet who has fallen down the pecking order, but his role of impact substitute may help him come back refreshed in the new year.

But another game without a goal for our strikers surely won’t have slipped under the radar? Reinforcements are needed, even with young Bright Enobakhare looking well…bright in his second start under Lambert.

Thankfully Ivan Cavaleiro is discovering a healthy appetite for finishing and probably squeezes out Bodvarsson in my revised magic five.

I’m certain many disagree. So in the spirit of healthy debate – who makes it into yours?

Nottingham Forest Vs Wolves Preview

Prior to last weekend our excuse has been conceding early and conceding first.

 

But despite getting ahead in the opening minutes against both Fulham and Cardiff, we’ve only mustered a one point return.

They say good teams find a way to win, but at the moment the opposite seems true for Wolves.

It’s worrying times for Paul Lambert and he’ll already know there are some crippling deficiencies in this team that must be addressed in January.

In the meantime, this is another fixture against a team in and around us in the table. Another defeat would be difficult to swallow.

Forest

The good news for Wolves is that it looks like Forest’s two most dangerous players will be ruled out.

Both Henri Lansbury and Britt Assombalonga – who’ve both netted against Wolves in recent encounters – have got hamstring injuries.

Still, they’re among the league’s top scorers so will likely possess a threat from others like former Blues and Arsenal forward Nicklas Bendtner.

Despite a thumping at Derby and a draw at home to Preston their recent form hasn’t been too shabby. Three wins preceded those matches.

Off the field they’re trying to push through a takeover and from the outside looking in it seems like they need that fresh impetus.

Wolves

Where does Paul Lambert go from here? Given that our midfield has been almost non-existent, perhaps going two up top again wouldn’t be a bad call?

Neither Bodvarsson or Dicko are thriving as the lone striker so playing a more direct game might suit the players we’ve got.

I’d still be taking Iorfa out of the firing line, who I think has seriously struggled in recent months.

It seems likely Helder Costa will miss out so perhaps playing Teixeira or someone else slightly tucked in down the right could be an option?

Predictions

Call me an optimist but I think we might win this one. Not because I’m seeing the shoots of recovery or anything, more I just think Forest are there for the taking.

With the exception of Cardiff, many of the away performances haven’t been too awful even though results haven’t really gone our way.

I foresee another topsy-turvy encounter tomorrow, but hopefully we’ll come out on the right side of the scoreline.

2-1.

Up The Wolves!

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Nottingham Forest 1 Wolves 1

What do Dimitri Payet, Mesut Ozil and Dave Edwards have in common?

Forest Wolves

If an answer doesn’t immediately come to mind then you’re forgiven as there is a rather blatant gulf in class between our number four and the diminutive playmakers of West Ham and Arsenal.

Nonetheless, Deadly Dave now stars in a rendition of Billy Ray Cyrus’ ‘Achy Breaky Heart’ to match those belonging to his altogether more celebrated contemporaries.

It’s taken us eight years to come up with a song for the amiable Welshman and it’s fitting that a ditty has been found in this most dispiriting of seasons.

For all his endeavour, Edwards is an ordinary footballer and, whilst the dedication he shows on the pitch is fully deserving of appreciation from the terraces, it’s a tad depressing to think that we were hailing the trio of Dicko, Afobe and Sako during our last visit to the City Ground.

Still, we have long come to accept the reality of our situation under the M&M regime and the ordinariness of yesterday’s performance is therefore a far less bitter pill to swallow.

The first half was tedium on a par with the Rotherham game and, though we started the second half well, it was one way traffic after the break, with Carl Ikeme once again ensuring we escaped with a point in tact.

To put an optimist’s spin on things, Joe Mason put in his best performance for the club since signing and Dominic Iorfa was again imperious at centre back.

It was refreshing to hear Kenny Jackett talk in the week about building the team around Iorfa and I certainly hope that the board will support him in rejecting any offers for him from Premier League clubs.

Were there players of Iorfa’s ilk available throughout the rest of the team, I’d be looking to next season with optimism.

But the fact is that, even with the much missed Dicko and Graham to return, we are an average team and another season of mid table obscurity beckons without considerable investment being made.

I think we’ll all be glad to see the back of the 2015/2016 campaign and I just hope that KJ uses the summer to recharge his batters and refresh his approach because I’ve been totally bewildered by his tactics over the last few weeks. James Henry at number 10 and George Saville on the left is not a recipe for success at any level of football.

At least watching Nottingham Forest is a reminder that we are not the only set of supporters clinging to memories of better times.

Those times will come again, though when is anyone’s guess.

Nottingham Forest Vs Wolves Preview

Fortunately, scoring goals away from the barren wasteland that is Molineux hasn’t been a problem.

Wolves Forest

But unfortunately, letting them in has been.

Our last cleansheet was at the Mad Stad at the start of February and we didn’t even win. You can guess the score if you can’t remember it.

No fair really. Why do all these other teams get to escape the banquet of boredom?

For added misery this fixture will act as another timely reminder of our team’s demise, with Afobe and Sako both resplendent in last season’s victory at the City Ground.

Roll on the summer.

Forest

Nottingham_Forest_logo.svgThe Trees have been hand holding Wolves in the middle third of the table for most of the season and look to be treading water.

It seemed a touch harsh to give Dougie Freedman the push, given the various issues he had to contend with – injuries, embargoes, etc.

Paul Williams is in temporary charge until the end of the season and it will be interesting to see who they end up with. Maybe they’ll be one of the clubs rivaling Rotherham for Neil Warnock’s services? They probably should be.

Britt Assombalonga is close to regaining full fitness and he’ll be an asset for them if he gets a good pre-season under his belt before the next campaign.

Their home form reads won 7, drawn 7, lost 8, scored 24, conceded 25 so it’s textbook inconsistency. Like looking in a mirror.

Wolves

Kenny might as well keep experimenting, but realistically three or four new bodies are needed in the attacking third to give us any hope for next season.

Team for Rotherham

Here’s eleven players, but who knows whether any or all of them will play? Does anyone even care? It’s tough to feel enthusiastic about the team whoever gets a game at present.

Deslandes, Hunte and Enobakhare are all worth a start, but I’d definitely like to see Jed Wallace get a mini run in these two remaining fixtures. He was bright in his cameo last weekend.

Dave Edwards was, save for one bad miss, anonymous against Rotherham, but probably remains our greatest goal threat as the forwards continue to starve.

Le Fondre, Siggy, Mason – none of them are good enough. Clear out and start again.

Predictions

The most likely outcome is probably a draw, so that’s what I’m going with.

And yeah, what else is there to say?

1-1

Up The Wolves!

Wolves 1 Nottingham Forest 1

Bill Murray has a Christmas special on Netflix.

Landell Forest

But it’s one of his more familiar films that I find myself recollecting in the wake of another frustrating 90 minutes.

In Groundhog Day, Murray plays a disenchanted news anchor that finds himself doomed to relive the same day over and over again until he gets it right.

Sound familiar?

Whilst there’s positives to be taken out of our performance, the final narrative was gratingly familiar.

And, given the club’s current ‘for sale’ status, it’s hard to see a change coming without drastic action being taken.

With Benik Afobe again consigned to the bench, it’s fair to assume that the club is planning for life without their star forward. Hark back to pre-season and this scenario would seem potentially riot-inducing but it now seems the only plausible route to improvement.

If it’s to be assumed that Kenny Jackett can only spend what he raises come January, then cashing in on our most prized asset seems like an unavoidable cause of action.

Afobe has struggled to raise the standards of a developing team and probably needs a move away as much as we need the transfer fee it would provide.

It’s clear to see that we are not too far away from being a formidable Championship side. On Friday evening, the team were enterprising going forward and created plenty of chances.

However, we were once again handicapped by an inability to punish the opposition and our unhealthy penchant for amateurish defensive mishaps.

Despite some questionable signings as of late, Kenny Jackett has proven himself to be a fairly shrewd operator in the transfer market and would likely put any windfall from an Afobe sale to good use.

Mike Williamson’s brief Indian summer at Molineux proved that good defenders are on the market and Adam Armstrong and Tom Bradshaw’s exploits in League One exemplify the attacking talent that is prevalent elsewhere in the Football League.

With half the season almost gone and Wolves four points shy of the play-offs, these are the sort of acquisitions we ought to be looking to make. But that can’t happen without bidding adieu to our current No. 10.

Regardless of Kenny’s thoughts on that matter, he’s likely to have been pleased with aspects of Friday’s performance.

It may have been Ethan Ebanks-Landell’s slack marking that allowed Forest back into the game but he gave a solid performance up until that point – if he can iron the mistakes out of his game, he’ll be a very good defender.

Jordan Graham continued his excellent vein of form and already looks set to be a key first team player moving forward. Watching him slalom down the left is a real treat and the prospect of him improving with experience is something that we can all be excited about.

Forecasting where we’ll be at the end of the month is a task that most fortune tellers would shirk at but recent improvements means that cautious optimism can be indulged for at least the time being.

After all, even Phil figured it out in the end.

Wolves Vs Nottingham Forest Preview

This fixture was one of the real low points of last season.

Forest

A third straight defeat on what would end up being a run of five that ultimately curtailed our promotion aspirations, Forest blew us away in 20 horrible second half minutes.

This time we come into the game in better shape, unbeaten in four and high on confidence having collected an essential victory last time out.

I’m not sure this team is capable of stringing together a three, four or five game winning run that would rocket them up the table, but a four point return in these back-to-back home games would represent progress.

Forest

Nottingham_Forest_logo.svgI actually feel a bit sorry for Forest fans. They’ve had years of mediocrity in this division and must have thought last season was finally their time.

The owners chucked the kitchen sink at a promotion push, but injuries, misfortune and questionable managerial appointments cost them.

Now it looks like the money has dried up, a few players have left and like Wolves they find themselves back at square one in the no man’s land of midtable.

But they’ve won three of their last four including a notable victory over rivals Derby so perhaps better times lie ahead?

They’ll come full of confidence and with a team full of familiar Championship personnel including former Wolves pair Dorus de Vries and Michael Mancienne.

Wolves

It was a big decision dropping Benik Afobe and I wonder if Kenny will again leave our leading scorer sitting on the sidelines?

Wolves team for Forest

You would like to think he might come back stronger after missing out for a week and I’d like to see him back in the team. I’m not sure Le Fondre has the presence to lead the line alone.

That said, it seems increasingly likely Afobe will be moved on in January if there’s a decent enough offer on the table, so perhaps the manager is already planning for his departure?

At the back, it would be good to see the defence put on a decent show to alleviate any fears we’ll be significantly worse off without the experience of Mike Williamson.

Predictions

We’ve only won two home league games all season, which is pretty pathetic and unusually poor in the Jackett era.

Had we beaten Brighton or MK Dons or QPR or Burnley or even Hull, which we could easily have done on the balance of play, we’d be right up by the play-offs.

I’m sure someone would argue all teams can say that, but it’s certainly been fine margins at Molineux and we’ve struggled to get on the right end of results.

I think we’ll struggle to do so again tomorrow and am therefore plumping for a draw.

1-1

Up The Wolves!