It was a sad old end to the season, wasn't it? All the sadder because the only joy to be found in an otherwise disappointing day was the demise of the Sheep. Forest have enough problems of their own, for heaven's sake. Concentrating on the heartbreaking failure of our rivals is poor consolation.
I mean, you've got to feel sorry for them. Not so long ago they were the darlings of whatever media bothered to cover the Championship, cruising towards promotion by playing "the best football in the league", driven by a manager whose media training couldn't disguise his florid smugness. But gradually reality set in to reveal the fundamental weakness of the whole set up. The defence was awful, let down by a leader who was inexplicably included in the Championship team of the year yet found it impossible to even stand properly when put under pressure; let down by a multi-million pound starlet who turned out to be so weak he couldn't even grow a beard; let down by a striker who couldn't even dive properly because he was too fat; let down by a couple of loan signings who promised to be the "perfect fit" but ended up being impotent bottlers; let down by a manager who, as soon as there was real work to do, lacked the resources to do it. If you've any heart at all, you've got to feel sorry for a team whose naked inadequacies were revealed so publicly. Those poor faces, bleached by nightmare, will haunt me for about a week.
At least Forest's disappointments went mostly under the radar (which, ironically, is what many Forest fans were calling for after the turmoil of last season). On Saturday, Forest were guaranteed less coverage than the Mongolian Stock Exchange. The world didn't miss much. Forest began like a group of players who had just pitched out of bed, went two down after some wretched defending, looked a bit rattled when they realised the crowd were more interested in Derby, and finally woke up when Caerdydd's goalkeeper was sent off for being a dumbass. The last fifteen minutes were okay. There were flashes of the good Forest, and some consolation when Dex got a well deserved goal. We like Dex, mainly because he acts as a channel for the crowd's hopes, rarely lets them down, and actually seems to be getting better with age. But that's just our opinion.
As for the bigger picture, me and Stress have worked out that there are over 18,600,000 ways to analyse the season, ranging from Particulate Chaos theory to Primitive Magic, and none of them are satisfactory. All we know is that we started well, slumped badly, then started well again, then slumped badly again. Looking at this very broad-brush summary, it seems that "new manager bounce" goes a long way to explaining the highs, but worryingly, a combination of injuries, managerial ordinariness and player inconsistency has to explain the lows.
And that's where we are now - a fairly ordinary manager running a fairly ordinary team. Whether Mister Dug transforms himself into the perfect fit remains to be seen. Who will leave, who will join the playing staff, and the effects these changes will have also remains to be seen. Those who already know the answers to these imponderables are, in fact, simply choosing out of eighteen million possibilities, which is a neat but facile trick. As Old Uncle Boff used to say, The only thing history teaches us is that death is inevitable and Derby are crap. Everything else is opinion.