Being visited by Forest must be like getting an unwanted call from a particularly hard hearted doctor - one whose sole aim is to find something wrong with you and deliver his bad news with merciless relish. Leed felt the sharp edge of his tongue yesterday as he made plain to them that they have a team suffering from lumpen melancholy and a manager in the final stages of morbid obesity and delusional despair.
Of course, Forest need to do a bit of self-diagnosis too, but this responsibility should not be usurped by sour opponents or those diehard pessimists who think it's somehow cool to criticise the club or its style of play. Mister Blobby (that's what the Leed fans call him) tried to exploit the "dour Forest" bandwagon both before and after the game in a manner so graceless it even embarrassed his own fans. The sad thing is, his comments echoed those of some Forest supporters, even reasonable ones, who feel the need to say things like "I appreciate the result, but I don't like the style of play", as if enthusiasm for and appreciation of their own club is an admission of weakness.
First of all, the Leed match didn't justify the "dour Forest" criticism at all. Forest were better not only in defence but in all areas of the pitch. The counter-attacking option led to chances for Ward, Osborn, Tesche and of course Oliveira, more shots on goal, and even a 50/50 penalty shout. Leed had one chance early on, a difficult header which skimmed wide. Forest always looked the more impressive, even after Oliveira's goal. "Parking the bus" it wasn't, unless that silly phrase refers to a very dangerous bus indeed. Enjoyable it was, as evidenced by 2000 Forest voices raised high throughout the match. As for the self-diagnosis bit, the only problem with the Forest performance was the chronic one of not converting more chances, but we've known about that for most of the season.
Secondly, and more personally, I actually enjoy and appreciate defensive solidity. The Forest defence is developing into the best Forest defence I've seen in years, and it is a pleasure (at least for me) to watch them work. This appreciation of good defence goes back a long way - right back to the Italian catenaccio system which used to kill games stone dead, and on through some of Cloughie's best European performances, or Chelsea's corraling of Barcelona's tippy tappers into dead ends. And by the way, people have finally come to admire the part played by Leicester's defence in their remarkable success. You didn't hear a murmur of criticism about the way Leicester absorbed Man City's pressure before killing them on the break. Yes, I know all these teams had and have more cutting edge than us in attack, but that shouldn't detract from a celebration of fine defensive football. There may even have been signs in the Leed match that, with such a secure defence, Forest were gaining the confidence to sit higher up the pitch and not give in to the temptation to fall too deep. It felt like progress, but that may just have been because Leed were crap. We're not sure yet. Nor are we allowing ourselves to get too excited about Forest's prospects in the league, because we don't score freely enough to guarantee wins or even total security.
What we are sure of, however, is that the "dour Forest" label is the result of misguided and lazy thinking, the kind of thinking that should be left to idiots like Mister Blobby.