SEASON 2018/2019 REPORTS AND STUFF

STRESS'S BLOGUE

Dear Everybody,
Sorry we're late. What happened was that Fat Man's computer broke, and a bloke called Ted took it away to fix it. Fat Man says that computer blokes like Ted are not of this earth. Their sense of time is not like other people's, and they spill coffee on your carpet. Anyway, Ted took ages to fix it, but he did it, and here we are.

I said Fat Man should apologise for missing the start of the season because it was his computer after all, but he said I should do the first one because I was good with words and stuff and anyway it was a great honour to do the first one, so here I am.

It's been a fantastic start to the season, hasn't it? Fat Man says one twenty third of the season has already gone and we've amassed a meagre two points. He says parsnips are buttered by points, not fine performances. Fat Man says things like this because he is a miserable old sod worn down by false hopes and broken promises who cannot see that Mister Karanka has assembled a squad of players who will very shortly sprout wings and fly us to the promised land. Fat Man is so afraid of failure he won't let himself see that Forest did enough to win those first two matches, that their performances were dusted with brilliance, and that Guedioura has become more powerful than we ever imagined.

So now we're ready to go, apart from a few bits and pieces, like what to do with the video bit and changing the 888 on Marinakis' shirt. We go into the third game of the season against Reading Ladies buoyed by the hope that our parsnips will be liberally buttered and Fat Man's computer stays away from Ted's coffee stained fingers. Come on you reds!

GAME 3: AUGUST 11 2018
BIG SPENDING NOTTINGHAM FOREST 1
READING LADIES 0



Well, Stress, I see that Hillal Soudani helped big spending Nottingham Forest break plucky Reading's resolve and secure Aitor Karanka's first Championship win of the season with a narrow 1-0 success.

Yes Pie he certainly did. It was a smart goal from the expensively assembled Algerian which settled a slightly disappointing tie.

Yes Stress, your golden thighed generation had a difficult afternoon, didn't it?

What are you saying, Pie?

I'm saying that the people you described as demi-gods seem to have run out of poop already.

Too harsh, Fat Man. This was the third game in seven days, which is obviously part of a Football League scheduling conspiracy to knacker us before we've started, so it wasn't a surprise that there was a dip in form. Plus Reading Ladies spent most of their time and energy clamping our most dangerous players. Plus the whole point of having a big, talented squad is that substitutes make a difference. As soon as Soudani and Cash came on, you could feel the threat level rise. Plus we got three points.

Exactly. As I've always said, points are more important than performances.

But you make it sound as if we were really bad, which simply isn't true. We didn't just conjure up three points out of thin air, you know. We had to cope with a different and difficult situation, and we did. We got three points because of the performance, not despite it.

You may be right, Stress. Then again you might be wrong. But let's not argue.

So I can do my player ratings, then?

You know I hate player ratings.

I know, but how about I do the player ratings without the ratings?

I don't understand...

Great, thanks, here we go...

Pantilimon - Grew into the game, and made himself big to save from somebody. Get it?

No.

Figueiredo - Needs a few games to get back to his best, but he's as solid as a shit brickhouse.

Fox - Remember when Fox was Forest's Keogh? Those days are long gone now. A powerfully aggressive performance saw him crowned with the hero's toilet paper, and the crowd enjoyed his performance as much as he obviously enjoyed delivering it.

Darikwa - Did surprisingly well for a resident scapegoat. People who snipe at him should try playing at full back, the fat bastards.

Osborn - Did surprisingly well for a resident scapegoat. People who snipe at him should try playing at full back, the fat bastards.

Guedioura - Pep chose this game to descend from heaven and play as a mere mortal. Still mightily influential and stuffed with confidence.

Dias - One day everything this man does will result in goals of such quality they will be talked about until the seas boil. Not today though.

Colback - This was Colback's kind of game - one needing grit, security, and ginger snap, which he provided.

Carvalho - Love this bloke, cos he's clever, tough and intelligent...

...unlike Lolley, who is obviously as mad as a box of cocks. Once he remembers to switch his brain on when in a threatening position he will be effective as well as nobbishly exciting.

Grabban - Slow starter, strong finisher. Really needs a goal.

Cash - If Cash was a superhero he would be ElectroMan, tasering the villains into fuzzy-haired panic. It was his persistence that created and facilitated Soudani's goal.

Soudani - A real character. Not only is he a very good footballer (what a really well taken goal) but he obviously has a slightly manic sense of occasion. Is he tubby, or is he just puffed up with the joy of living? I don't know.

Robinson - I'm waiting for this bloke to get beaten by pace, so his opponent goes past him "quicker than you can say Jack Robinson." But I hope it never happens, cos it's a crap joke anyway.

The Crowd - Big. Red. Louder than a Train.

GAME 4: AUGUST 18 2018
WIGAN CAR PARK 2
EXPENSIVELY ASSEMBLED NOTTINGHAM FOREST 2

Oh come on, Stress, you have to admit it was a pretty awful performance.

Well of course it was, Pie.

What do you mean, Well of course it was?

What do you mean, What do you mean? I agreed with you that it was a pretty awful performance.

Well that's something at least. Perhaps you'll now admit that things aren't going as swimmingly as you would like, or that Karanka's expensively assembled squad aren't exactly setting the world on fire, or that "Karanka's style of football" is nothing more than a thin gruel of hard work and the odd inspired accident.

Ha ha ha. You don't understand, do you, Pie? Ha ha ha. Once more you've allowed your own lack of faith to blind you to the truth.

The truth?

Yes, Pie. Let the cataracts of unreason fall from your eyes. Let the bile of disappointment drain from your gut.

I know I'm going to regret this, but what are you talking about?

I'm talking about The Grand Plan, Pie.

Well of course you are. Remind me, Stress, which particular Grand Plan would this be?

There's only one Grand Plan, Fatso, and it's being played out before your very eyes. All you've got to do is look at the Wigan Car Park game. We started off by conceding a goal within two minutes, didn't we?

Yes.

Something we've done before, haven't we?

Yes.

Almost as if we were doing it on purpose, eh?

No.

And then we played really badly throughout that first half, right?

Yes.

And Mister Karanka said "It was almost impossible for us to have played worse." As if we were doing it on purpose, eh?

No.

And then there was Grabban's penalty, which was saved.

I suppose Grabban did that on purpose too, did he?

All part of the Grand Plan, Pie. Don't you see a pattern emerging?

Yes. We're crap.

In a way. We are as crap as we can be. Now why would we make life so hard for ourselves?

Er...

BECAUSE YOU CAN ONLY KNOW HOW GOOD YOU ARE IF YOU KNOW HOW BAD YOU CAN BE.

Er, so we're playing badly on purpose?

Yes, Pie, to test ourselves. A squad of Forest's quality doesn't play like dimwits by accident. They must be getting worse on purpose. We now know that we can play pretty dreadfully and still get a result. Sooner or later we'll hit rock bottom, then the rise to glory will begin. You're still not convinced, are you?

No.

Tell me, Pie, what's the highest mountain on earth?

Everest, of course.

No. The highest mountain on earth is Mauna Kea in Hawaii. Everest stands 29,035 feet above sea level. Mauna Kea only stands 13,796 feet above sea level, but the mountain extends about 19,700 feet below the Pacific Ocean. Over half of it is submerged. That puts the total height of Mauna Kea at about 33,500 feet — nearly a mile taller than Everest. So you see, you can only tell how high something is by finding its bottom. Same with Forest. You can't reach the heights until you've plumbed the depths.

Well that explains everything. So we're getting worse on purpose to see how bad we can be.

Exactly.

Why don't we just play well?

I've explained all that, Pie.

No you haven't. All you've done is talk a lot of bollocks about bile and cataracts and plumbing somebody's bottom. If I didn't know better I'd say you'd been talking to Mister Thumb.

Mister Thumb has nothing to do with this.

It sounds like Mister Thumb. I can actually see his face drawn on your thumb.

I'm not prepared to discuss my relationship with Mister Thumb any further.

Very well. So when does Mister Thumb think Forest's plunge into mediocrity will end, and their rise to glory begin?

Mister Thumb has no opinion on such matters, but if he did, he would probably say that we'll thrash Boremingham to within an inch of their lives.

And if we don't?

Then we'll show the character to salvage another draw, and The Grand Plan continues to unfold.

I had a friend called Mister Thumb, Who lived inside his owner's bum, And when his owner needed words, Then Mister Thumb brought only turds.

You disgust me, Pie. Truly you do.

GAME 5: AUGUST 25 2018
OVERLY EXPENSIVE NOTTINGHAM FOREST 2
BOREMINGHAM 2

What do you mean, you've changed your mind?

I mean what I say, Pie. I've changed my mind. I've decided you were right, after all.

About what?

About Karanka. You were right all along. He's hopeless.

I never said he was hopeless.

Yes you did. You said he was a fraud, a charleston, fake nudes, and you were right, because everything you said about him was proved in the Boremingham match. He picked the wrong team because he didn't have a clue what the right one was.

Wait a minute...

You were right about him being a useless coach, too. It's obvious that the more time he spends with the team, the worse it gets.

Yes but....

And what kind of manager plays two plantpots in midfield, two rusty bikes at full back, leaves his best players rotating on the bench, sidelines Brereton while putting his faith in that bag of washing up front, reduces the playing style to hoofball, spends 70 minutes before admitting that something might be wrong, brings off Watson who in fact died sometime during the first half, then mutters something incoherent like "My name is Aitor Karanka. You killed my father. Prepare to die." to justify his decisions.

But the bag of washing scored a neat goal. Karanka did sort it out in the end. And we remain unbeaten.

No, Pie - I know you're trying to play devil's advocaat, but it won't work. You called it right in the first place. Karanka is a sham, like that emperor who wore those nude clothes and preferred geriatrics to the promise of youth. You were right to point out that one point per game leads to relegation. You were right to lead the boos at half time.

That's enough of that, Stress.

Spot on again, Pie. We've certainly had enough of that. We were promised the earth, and all we got was a dustbinful of mixed fruit and the return of the most frightening mascot in history.

Sadly, Stress, I never said any of those things.

So it wasn't you who said that Karanka was as inspirational as a plywood off-cut?

No. I would never hurl insults like that after a few games.

You're right, Pie. We should wait till things get really bad. I reckon two games is enough. That should be enough length to hang his rope over. Then you can write that letter to the Greek bloke you've been talking about.

What?

You know - "Dear Greek Bloke, This guy is another dud. Everybody says so. Please deal with him. Yours, Pieman."

You're sick, you know that?

I may be sick, but at least I don't hide my light under somebody's bush.

You're also unfathomably stupid.

I may be unfashionably stupid, but I know how to blow my own horn. Not many men can say that, Pie. .

Indeed, Stress. Indeed.

GAME 6: SEPTEMBER 1 2018
BENTFORWARD 2
NOTTINGHAM "MONEYTREE" FOREST 1

FAQ

Did this defeat signal the end of Forest's unbeaten run?

It certainly did. Not that Forest's unbeaten run was anything to be proud of in the first place. Forest's unbeaten run was a bit like a car with a bootful of shit. It's still a car, but its boot is full of shit.

Are Bentforward a good side?

Well, they were better than Forest today, which may not be the same thing. Of course, from Forest's point of view, using two mustardpots as defensive shields / attacking springboards was always going to fail, as was leaving Murphy wandering aimlessly upfield like Boxer waiting for the knacker's van. These and other things made Bentforward's job easier, but to say they are a properly good side assumes that there are properly good sides in the Championship, which there probably aren't. And good sides don't have to cheat quite as much as Bentforward did, or bring their own referee.

Do these Forest players just need time to gel?

If things gel, they turn into a wobbly homogenous mass, like jelly. A football team that gelled would be a horrifying sight, like a huge blob with half-recognised faces trapped in it. Of course, most people use "gel" because it's shorter than something like "form a coherent and effective unit", but that's only because most people are dim. Anyway, I was under the impression that this Forest team "gelled" almost straight away, hence the one or two fine performances at the beginning of the season. Since then, the performances have actually deteriorated, so on the evidence so far, the team is not so much "gelling" as separating. Soon they may dissolve entirely, spill over the edge of your faux-granite work surface, and pool in a sticky film on your kitchen floor.

Did Forest play better in the second half?

Yes, but only because they couldn't get any worse. The question implies that Karanka did something right at half time, which raises the question of why he insisted on playing mustardpot football in the first half. To be fair, Forest did try to defend higher in the second half, but the real change came with the introduction of Cash and Osborn, who introduced an energy typical of genuine Forest men - you know, like Brereton, Worrall, Yates, etc. People who care.

Don't you think Karanka will get it right?

I don't know, mainly because I don't understand much of what he says. Karanka employs the same kind of semi-coherent Eurobabble used by other foreign managers to avoid answering questions, so it's almost impossible to work out what his vision is. On the evidence so far, his preferred style seems to be based on experienced players trying to remember what made them good back in the day, and younger, more vibrant players trying to slot into a system that doesn't seem to exist.

Things are at least going well off the pitch, aren't they?

Yes, it is a great comfort to know that things are at least going well off the pitch. I shall make a banner. "Things are at least going well off the pitch" it shall say, and I shall flaunt it dressed as Robin Hood to enhance the matchday experience.

Will there be football next week?

Not real football. Ecuador play Jamaica next Saturday, so real football has to take a back seat. Also, UEFA have invented a new competition between national sides for the purpose of making more money for UEFA. It's called the UEFA Nations League, and it works like this:
Teams have been split into four groups of three, with the group winners then contesting the UEFA Nations League Finals dressed in ridiculous outfits and soundtracked by some irritating Europop shit in June 2019 to become the UEFA Nations League winners. Graham Norton will do the commentary. Sounds classy. So no, there won't be any football next week.

JET LAG ... CATCHING UP

GAME 7: SEPTEMBER 15 2018
ABERTAWE 0 FOREST 0

Where have you been, Vetch?

I have been far and wide, sir, following the Garibaldi in their ongoing search for fame and glory. Sadly, fame and glory are not to be found in Abertawe.

I could have told you that, Vetch. Many things can be found in Abertawe, but most of them are strangely misspelt. I presume the Foresters lost their way again?

Not exactly sir. They played reasonably well, but came away with a thoroughly goalless 0-0 draw. It was a disappointing outcome, considering that the better chances fell to Forest. In fact the better chances fell to Osborn, who missed. At least I think it was Osborn. Each game seems to comprise a different set of players, some of whom are strangers to me. One chap was even wearing a mask. And there was this sort of pretend striker who spent the match pretending to be the best striker in the Championship. And the team seemed full of raw-boned fellows who weren't afraid to commit the occasional violent offence.

I understand your confusion, Vetch. I hear the Foresters' recruitment policy is based on those cheap bags of stamps one used to buy when one started stamp collecting which contained brightly coloured triangular stamps from Mongolia and occasionally a stamp which looked rare enough to be worth a fortune but turned out to be fake.

That is an amusing but worryingly pertinent observation, sir. These are confusing times indeed.

But at least the performance was encouraging, didn't you say?

No sir. "Encouraging performance" is a phrase used by local journalists to gain easy access to the club's hierarchy, or to maintain the illusion that everything is for the best in the best of all possible worlds, or to simply act as part of the club's public relations effort. In truth, an encouraging performance would be a 3-0 win. It wouldn't matter how they played then. They could butcher the opposition like the Mongolian hordes for all I care, as long as they won.

For all your long words, you're little better than a barbarian, Vetch.

That may well be true, sir.

Did I tell you I used to collect Mongolian stamps, Vetch?

Indeed you did, sir.

Brightly coloured triangles, they were. Completely worthless, of course. Odd folk, the Mongolians. They live in yoghurts, you know.

I did not know that, sir.

Yes they do. But that's not the issue here. The issue here is how long before you stop blithering on about these Foresting no-hopers and tell cook to make some dinner.

Sadly, cook died, sir. Of food poisoning, ironically. But she left your dinner warming in the oven.

Now that's loyalty to the cause, Vetch. Some of us could learn a lot from cook.

CAUGHT UP
GAME 8: SEPTEMBER 19 2018
FOREST 2 WENDIES 1

The "report" for this game can be found in the video box thing at the bottom of the home page. Thank you.

GAME 9: SEPTEMBER 22 2018
FOREST 1 ROTHERINGHAM 0

We have no knowledge of this game, what with its taking place during our return journey from somewhere that doesn't concern you so stop being nosey. However, other people do have knowledge of this game, and they inform us that Rotheringham came to park their bus because it was broken down eventually by persistence. We understand none of this, though we vaguely remember what buses were. Anyway, Grabban's well taken penalty won it, and that's us up to date, just in time for the League Cup match against Stoke which we won't be covering because we don't do cup matches unless we win.

We won. Next we play Burton. We won't do a report of that either. Unless we win.

NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN
GAME 10: SEPTEMBER 29 2018
Blackbum 2 FOREST 2

This Championship stuff is no country for old men. The way things are going, I may not last the season.

Visiting Ewood Park is a bit like rediscovering some long forgotten past, an unpleasant place with its primeval mound of a pitch and its fervently incoherent crowd and a whole petrified swamp of dark football memories. Forest may have squeaked a few wins lately, but I didn't hold out much hope for them here.

So the game began with the two sides trying to press the pips out of each other until Forest got a corner and the life threatening stuff began. As the corner kick sailed over, a Blackbum defender did something unspeakable to Hefele and Forest were awarded a penalty. Grabban placed the ball with the confidence of a man who intended to strike it powerfully onto the top of the bar and away, and sure enough... It's this kind of thing which makes young men angry and old men ache, this shuttle between hope and despair. This was only the start of it.

Forest pushed hard for a bit until they did that daydreamy thing which Forest do, and allowed Blackbum to start running things. I say "Blackbum", but I really mean Graham and Dack. I am ashamed to admit that I thought Graham had packed it in long ago, and that Bradley Dack was somebody Blackbum had picked up living off road-kill by the M56. Turns out they are quite good. Dack had a couple of efforts which went too close for comfort, and so did Graham, one of which was saved by Colback's impossible flying header. Things were getting too stretched for an old man's comfort, and it went on like that, to and fro, till half time came as a relief.

The second half started well for Forest, whose attacking intent paid dividends with a smart goal from Grabban. Lolley drove down the right and crossed to Carvalho who nodded it back inside for Grabban to head home. The defiant snarl on Grabban's face spoke volumes about how snarlingly defiant he was, and the Forest contingent roared at the wonder of it all. Foolish young men began to think that this might be Forest's day. Old men just ached for the end of the game.

The game gradually sank into the kind of random lunacy which all Championship games sink into. Some Blackbum bloke scored what the BBC later described as "a stunning long range strike" when in fact it looked more like a badly directed cross, after which Blackbum really put the pressure on, presumably sensing there would be more flukes on offer. Forest clearances became less and less convincing until Graham combined with Dack to net a simple second.

There is a kind of peace to be had from the prospect of defeat. Young men may agonise over what might have been if the defence weren't so shit, but old men resign themselves to grumpy melancholy, blaming no-one but life itself. Despair has its own compensations. The real danger, as everybody knows, is hope.

Annoyingly, the Forest players wouldn't stop trying, especially Lolley, who had been a pain in the opposition's blackside all afternoon. Once more he burst into the box and drew a foul from the oddly positioned Rodwell. Another penalty.

Many people were injured in the following minute. Blackbum fans exploded like angry boils. Forest fans bit through their own lips. And amidst all the pain of anticipation, forward stepped Lewis Grabban.

Now consider for a moment what this would have done to Grabban if he had missed another penalty. Let's just say we would all have understood if he declined the invitation. He had already got his goal as a kind of redemption for the first miss, so there was no need for further risks. But, stubbornly, he grabbed the ball again and this time scored with the routine ruthlessness of a man in complete control of everything physical and emotional, and the younger Forest fans ate humble pie and worshipped him from afar, and the older ones sat down and prayed for peace. But peace would not come. Forest actually tried to win it. This side which had been on its knees after Blackbum's second goal, now stood tall and square and started throwing punches.

It was those last minutes when Forest threatened to win it that nearly killed me. If Guedioura had headed in the winner, I would certainly have died. I'm sending him a note thanking him for my continued survival.

In summary, this Forest team simply has more guts than sense. Somebody will have to tell it to back off and give the old men a bit of peace, otherwise they'll end up winning something and sending us all to an early grave.

WTF
GAME 11: OCTOBER 3 2018
FOREST 2 MEWO 2

In 1985 German physicist Wilhelm Thaddeus Franzen posited the existence of a particle whose presence could only be detected after it was no longer there. "Trying to measure or predict the properties of the WTF particle," noted one leading scientist, "is like ordering drinks for an unknown number of unidentified people you don't remember inviting in the first place, and then they don't turn up."

Forest are fast becoming the WTF particle of the Championship. You simply cannot predict what they're going to do, and even when they've done it you cannot convincingly explain what has just happened.

Leading up to the Mewo match, Forest were bumbling along quite successfully with three home victories in a row and a fairly creditable away draw at Blackbum. Spirit and confidence were high, and a home victory against struggling Mewo seemed a fairly safe bet. But then the WTF factor kicked in.

In the first half, Forest were mostly crap. Mewo's approach was primitive - get the ball into the box, usually by means of a free kick, for their bruisers to fight for. A sensible response from a superior footballing side would have been to play the ball quickly through them and cut them to pieces. Instead, Forest were slow and laboured, and indimidated into trying to outmuscle their opponents, thus providing them with a steady supply of free kicks. Forest's central defenders were shaky, Pantilimon had obviously been drinking, and Forest were lucky not to concede a small bagful of goals. The collective, bemused sigh of WTF was evidence that no one in the scientifically minded Forest crowd could explain what was going on.

After half an hour Forest went ahead with a blistering goal from Lolley, and things appeared to fall into place. "Ah," we grinned, "Forest have resisted the Mewo assault, and killed them with one moment of quality." It sounded good at the time, though everybody knew that Forest would have to do a lot better in the second half.

They did. They picked up the pace and moved with greater purpose. The lights went out for a bit, after which dark relief Forest got the second goal they craved from Carvalho's superb free kick, and the sentiment that Forest had now "killed off" Mewo seemed justified. As things stood, Forest were up to fifth.

Then it all went wrong. No one could put their finger on why, even though everyone sensed that something bad was going to happen. Pantilimon, by now completely drunk, waved alcoholically at a passing train as a high cross evaded him and was nodded home by Williams. WTF. In the 90th minute, Pantilimon (and, to be honest, everybody back there with him) cocked up again as a cross squirted through/under him to reach Gregory who tapped in. WTF. Gregory celebrated like a dick. WTF.

WTF indeed. No-one has yet come up with an explanation of what happened in this match - why Forest played so poorly, where the confidence went, why the defence seemed unprepared for the obvious, why Pantilimon was drunk, why the stars of recent matches faded in this one, why the lights went out, how much the ref was paid, what happened to all the white dog poo, and so on.

However, WTF also implies that this match cannot be used as a basis for future predictions, which is a kind of relief. To prove this, I rang up a scientist and asked him whether, after a forgettable home performance against Mewo, Forest had any chance away against Miserablebugger. I think you can guess what he said. "WTF?" he said, thus proving that everything I've said in this report is true.









Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow, creeps in this petty pace from day to day, to the last syllable of recorded time; and all our yesterdays have lighted fools the way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle! Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage and then is heard no more. It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury signifying nothing.