Was it Shakespeare, or perhaps somebody else, who described Derby County as "that whining bitch of a club"? Whoever it was, they were spot on. Before, during and after their defeat on Saturday, the Sheep were in full bleat mode. Most of their bleats began with the idea that Forest were a poor side who got lucky, then spiralled into the insane proposition that were it not for a corrupt referee they would have beaten Forest into a cocked hat.
The sad truth about Derby, to be fair, is that their persistent whining is just a cover for their deep sense of inadequacy, like a disreputable uncle coughing to mask a fart. Was it Shakespeare, or perhaps somebody else, who said "The lady doth protest too much, methinks." Whoever it was, they were spot on. The bleating of the Sheep grows louder the more there is to hide.
But Forest supporters are not a vindictive lot, so we'll ignore all the stuff the Sheep have to feel guilty about - you know, the years of diving and cheating and fluking and failing and crying, the whining about Spygate, the drunk driving, the rock-bottom cynicism behind the treatment of Lawrence and Bennett and Keogh, the FFP stadium scam, the shady deal to recruit number 32 Rooney. We'll bury all that, and get on with the match report.
The first half was Derby's, in the sense that they passed it around foppishly and created a couple of chances which ended up being as threatening as a clown's bucket of confetti. Forest used their smaller share of possession more purposefully, but ended up creating little, which will only become a problem when we lose. Still, Ameobi banged in two stingers from eighteen yards which threatened to break Roos's fingers.
The second half was Forest's. Derby spent much of the half trying to work out what Cocu had been talking about at half time, and Forest took control. Part of Cocu's instructions must have been to continue playing it out from the back, because he has always insisted on playing the sophisticated passing game. Unfortunately there are two flaws in this plan. Firstly, he doesn't have the players to pull it off. Secondly, clever devils like Lamouchi spot what's going on and tell their players to pressurise the second receivers. So the defenders end up lumbering around with no one short to give it to, and in the 56th minute, the pressure affected young Bogle so severely that his head blew up and he passed to Grabban, who drilled the ball smartly past Roos.
That was it, really. Forest backed off eventually as they always do, but they are so strong defensively you sense that only a fluke will undo them. Marriott had a chance, but his paper legs let him down. Forest won, and deserved to.
To be absolutely honest, Derby are playing okay these days (having somehow improved since their talisman captain has gone); it's just that they have no leaders, a coach they don't fully understand, and strikers made of animal fat and tissue paper. Forest have six or seven captains on the pitch, one of the top six goalkeepers in England, a coach they like and respect, and a striker who, at the moment, is doing brilliantly but needs help.
Well done everybody - the players, the people who organised the Armistice Day commemorations, and Monsieur Lamouchi on his birthday. And commiserations to Derby, who continue to fight hard despite the stench of buried truths which haunt their dreams. I think it was Shakespeare who said that. Or maybe it was somebody else. Maybe nobody cares.