News and Views from the Football League – It’s a funny old game

It is a phrase that is used so often and without a lot of thought, but football really is a funny old game. One moment your team can be riding the crest of a wave, and yet within a matter of only a couple of fixtures, things don’t look quite so fantastic. Conversely (and to the relief of football fans all across the world) this can also work the other way around.

Let’s take Nottingham Forest as an example. Fans at the City Ground have certainly enjoyed a rollercoaster ride over the past few decades. From the dizzying highs of European glory to relegation scraps on the domestic front, it certainly cannot be considered boring to follow Forest. It was hoped that promotion back to the Championship would be the rebirth of the club in many ways. A return to a higher level of football, coupled with the prospect of a new stadium, and things were starting to look a lot brighter for the City Ground faithful. Perhaps inevitably, their reward was a fight against relegation but, crucially, it was a battle they won.

It didn’t look like things were about to get any better with a below-par start to this season too. Billy Davies’ men took only seven points from their first eight games. Heads started to drop around the ground once again – another season of disappointment was on the cards. Now however, Forest have hit form, bagging three consecutive victories and they suddenly find themselves charging up the table.

Taking a closer look at the squad, it is not hard to see why they are doing so well – the team is simply full of goals. Nathan Tyson, Robert Earnshaw, Dele Adebola and Dexter Blackstock, to name but a few, are all plying their trade with the Reds this season. All are proven goalscorers, but the talent doesn’t end there. Lewis McGugan is a fantastic prospect (although he hasn’t featured much so far this season) and Chris Gunter at the back is also one to watch for the future.

It may be a stretch too far to be talking about Forest in the same breath as promotion, but it is amazing how quickly an outsider’s perception of a club can change. There are stronger clubs in the Championship than Davies’ men, yet his side are now beginning to show their potential as a squad. A few good results really can help when it comes to confidence it would seem. This weekend is of course the international break but when Forest return to action they will be playing host to Newcastle. Perhaps this game will give a better indication of just how far they have come.

As mentioned in the October 5 article, the managerial merry-go-round is already in full flow this season. Peter Jackson was relieved of his duties with Lincoln City and replaced by former Blackburn and Celtic striker Chris Sutton, who is taking his first steps into management. In recent seasons, former players have taken to the managerial hotseat with varying degrees of success. A case for the success stories would have to be Andy Scott at Brentford. Forced to retire due to injury, Scott took the reins at Griffin Park and led the Bees to the League Two title in his first full season in charge – a success story this writer is sure you will agree. Many see John Barnes at the opposite end of the spectrum. Barnes did not meet expectations in his first attempt at Celtic and it has taken him nearly a decade to get a second crack at club management. Now with Tranmere Rovers, there are suggestions that he may soon be looking for work again if his side’s performances do not improve soon.

The point is, all former players who want to pursue a career in management have to be given that first chance, and unless someone does take a gamble on them we will never know how good they could be. Judging from his first game in charge at Sincil Bank (a 1-0 victory against Aldershot), Sutton may well be about to put smiles back on the faces of the Imps faithful. It isn’t just the victory itself that should be acknowledged but also the number of chances which Lincoln created. It may well be that only one goal was scored but the chances were there for more and, with a former Premier League striker at the helm, surely more will follow.

Sutton takes his new side to Macclesfield this weekend and there is no doubt he will be aiming for three points. A few more positive results and we could well see the Imps flying back up the table just like Forest. Things can change so quickly in football. It really is a funny old game.

News and views from the Football League

Keane for more time to prove himself – October 5
It’s a funny old game – October 8

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