Sorry this is late, but at some point during the match I died, and that takes some getting over.
As Charles Dickens once said, it was the best of games, it was the worst of games. The best stuff was seeing the shirts blazing red in the sunshine, and the sheer attacking intent of a young Forest team; watching a beefed up Burke launching himself goalward on the right with his equally rapid mate Hildeberto; and, of course, the four goals. Four goals, for heaven's sake. After last season's struggles, seeing a Forest side hit the back of the net four times was delightfully daft.
Each goal owed a bit to luck, but more to pressure. For the first, Burke cut inside and caused problems, Henri's shot was deflected to Grant, whose cross/shot was bundled in by Assombalonga, or Ass Man as some disrespectful sod to our left called him. The second came just before half time when Forest were trailing two one, and not only was it much needed but also the best goal of the game. From a corner, the ball found its way to Lam, who drove a spectacular low skidder in at the foot of the post. The third resulted from a Kasami free kick. Kasami had come on for Grant, and had added class and authority to Forest's midfield. His kick came back to him, his drive ballooned over to Burke, who bumped it home. The fourth goal came from the right, with Hildeberto's cross once again ballooning off a defender to find an unmarked Britt, who nodded it home. Great stuff, and a reward for Forest's exuberant intent.
The worst stuff was the defending, which at times was awful. I suppose that a team which drives forward so eagerly is bound to leave gaps, but Burton broke through our midfield too easily at times, and Forest's defenders found themselves lurching out of position too often. Burton's first came from a cross which was met by some bloke whose skied header reduced the Forest defence to jelly as they watched a return ball bundled over the line. The second resulted from a missed tackle, a cross from Grant and a neat finish from some bloke while the Forest defence was reduced to jelly. The third was a simple cross from some woolly bloke which was met by some unmarked bloke as the Forest defence etc. In short, there was far too much jelly reduction going on at the back, which you can put down to a mixture of weak challenges, poor positioning, unfamiliarity with each other's responsibilities, Lam weighing in at eight stone, and Henderson managing to make the goal look awfully big. There is an awful lot of work to do in that defence, which may involve the introduction of better and wiser players.
I think it was near the end of the match that I died, as Burton pressed for an equaliser. For all the excitement generated by Forest's attacking play, that feeling of fatal dread is never far away. I get the feeling that this season will be the best of times and the worst of times over and over again, and it will take some surviving.
GAME 2 AUGUST 12 2016 HOVE 3 FOREST 0
Stop shouting, Stress.
I'm not shouting, Pie. I'm simply expressing my anger in bold face.
Okay, I'll play along. Why would you be expressing your anger in bold face?
Because I'm angry Pie. I'm an angry man.
You don't say.
Oh but I do say. Don't you want to know what I'm angry about, Pie?
Then I'll tell you. I'm angry that nobody seems to see the mess that Forest are in.
Nobody but you, I presume.
I may be a voice crying in the wildebeeste Pie, but all this one-eyed, slack-bottomed optimism is getting up my wick.
Yes, all this Give them time and they'll come good bollocks.
It's wilderness, Stress. And things get on your wick, not up it. But apart from that...
The signs are ominous, Pie. Look at the Hove match. Losing three players before a ball has been kicked wasn't exactly inspiring, was it? It had the familiar whiff of the biscuit factory about it.
That's going a bit...
So what happened to Mountaineer's claim that they would work hard on defence? That paid off big time didn't it? A defence which is crap because they don't know each other is rejigged into another defence which is crapper because
they don't know each other even more and we end up looking like the Tombliboos.
Anyway, that's why the manager wants a deep squad, so that...
Wrong again, Pie. The deep squad myth is just an excuse for shuffling round mediocre players in the vain hope that endless fidding will miraculously cure their mediocrity. It's like rearranging the deck chairs on the Teutonic.
There's plenty of deck chairs, but the boat's still going to sink.
You think Forest are going to sink?
I may well think that or not, Pie.
Don't you think we've enough attacking threat to keep us out of trouble?
Attacking threat? Did you see that Lard bloke up front? Iggle Piggle would have been more effective.
Don't ask. I'll tell you, Pie, my faith in Mister Mountaineer was sorely dented when I saw he'd picked that bag of gravel to lead the line.
Oh come on, Stress. Give the poor bloke a chance.
And that's what really gets in my wick, this soppy idea that everything will get better with time. You can't teach pigs to fly, Pie, except perhaps after painful surgery and an extensive course of practical aeronautics, and that would take years. We don't have years. The Championship isn't a prolonged practice session.
But what about the positives?
The positives will soon lose interest if we keep losing heavily. Loyalties will be tested to breaking point.
Surely you're ejaculating prematurely, Stress?
It was a joke, Stress.
That's a matter of opinion, but my thrust still stands.
What thrust would that be then, Stress?
I've no idea. But what I do know is that time is not on our side. This idea that teams take years to build is just an excuse for repeated failure. Ooh look, we've lost ten nil again, but don't worry because we're building a team. What daftiness is that? Time and tide wait for Norman, whoever Norman is, especially in the Championship, especially at Forest.
But to conclude that after two matches is just as dafty, Stress.
Two matches in which we've conceded six goals, almost been embarrassed by the aptly named Burton Down, been thumped by the ill-favoured Hove who may be a bunch of referee-assisted bullies but made our defence look like the Pontipines.
Don't ask. I've seen a lot in these two matches, and much of it I don't like. I don't like having a right back who isn't a right back but that's okay because he's probably crazy, a left back who is a midfielder or a centre half but that's okay because versatility is important, a Burke whose finishing is wayward but that's okay because he's brilliant, a Pastrami who gets as frustrated as a hobbled bull but that's okay because he reminds people of Guedioura, a Paterson who does a passable impression of a moth but that's okay because he probably is a moth. I definitely don't like that we've replaced the best goalkeeper in the Championship with some chubby chap but that's okay because he looks a bit like Upsy Daisy.
Don't ask. All I've seen so far is muddle and mess, a manager who seems intent on shuffling a dog-eared pack but who has no idea what his best formation is or who his best players are. And I don't like being owned by the Man in the Mist. This season promises to be not so much a roller coaster as a series of clifftop accidents.
I'm sorry, Stress, you're describing a club I don't recognize at all. What happened to patience and support?
It ran out, Pie.
Where's your appreciation of decent, fluent, attacking football?
Somewhere in the night garden, Pie, playing footsy with Ninky Nonk.
I told you, don't ask.
GAME 3 AUGUST 16 2016 BENTFORD 1 FOREST 0
Before I begin, I would like to apologise for Stress's wholly negative contribution to the Hove match report. It was the demented outpourings of a perennially disappointed man.
Hey, I'm here you know.
I would like to reassure you that my views on Forest are more positive, and though a one-nil defeat might not seem the best example to use, the Bentford match provided enough evidence to suggest that better days are ahead for Forest.
The kit looked good, if you like the slit-belly look.
For a start, the defence looked better, as Mister Montanier finally realised that dedicated defenders do a better job than makeshift ones. Even so, it took Forest a while to get into the game against a neat passing side.
What on earth has happened to Lansbury's hair?
Forest looked strong down the right, with Hildeberto, playing further forward, causing problems with his pace and trickery.
Ah, Pace and Trickery, solicitors to the idle rich.
Lansbury had a pop, Hildeberto latched on to a long clearance and missed by inches, Fox crossed for Vellios who missed a good chance...
No surprise there then.
...but it was clear that Forest's progressive approach was causing the home side problems. Ironically, it was during Forest's most threatening period that Bentford scored, a scrappy affair which took three efforts to cross the line thanks to some brave work by Henderson.
And what was heartening was Forest's response. After a couple of anxious moments, they regained their composure and determination, and pressed on. A rejuvenated Osborn produced a wonderful run which culminated in a decent penalty appeal which was denied by the latest in a long line of the worst referees in the world.
They have a meeting, you know.
The referees have a meeting just before the season starts to decide which teams they're going to punish most. Forest are always top of the list - something to do with unpaid bills or something.
You're sure about that, are you Stress?
The truth is out there, Pie.
Anyway, Forest's performance in the second half deserved a lot more than it got. They controlled the game, carved out several half chances, were denied progress and penalties by a referee who was only doing what he was paid for, and generally had no luck at all. In the dying moments a lovely move gave Britt the opportunity to equalise, but he was thwarted by an outstanding save.
And we lost. Again.
Yes we did, but this time we didn't deserve to. Even the Bentford fans said that. Things are beginning to click.
Things have been beginning to click for years, Pie. Beginning to click doesn't cut it any more.
Forgive me if I treat your pessimism with the contempt it deserves, Stress. This was my match report, and despite your attempts to derail it, I remain convinced that Forest are on the right track.
We'll see, Pie. Do you know why Dutch people appear so tall?
Because they're tall?
No, it's because their country is so flat.
Gosh, you know many things, Stress. All of which, sadly, are wrong. See you at the Wiggum match.
GAME 4 AUGUST 20 2016 FOREST 4 WIGGUM 3
Died again, several times. Of course, it's not the dying, so much as where it leaves you, that matters.
So, when Forest pressed high, forced a Wiggum mistake, and Britt ran through to slot home the perfect striker's goal, you may have died and gone to heaven. Not any old heaven, this, but a heaven characterised by sweet precision and that general air of things slotting into place and the cheerful promise of abundance. This particular heaven, sadly, was almost immediately stained by the sight of Britt limping out of his celebration and, not long afterwards, out of the match.
A few moments later, it seemed, we died and went to hell. A Wiggum player was freed on Forest's left, and amidst a confusion of sluggish reaction and poor marking, a sharp finish darted across Henderson into the net. This was a hell of freezing silence punctuated by muttered foulness, and that terrible feeling of dread which seems to spread from the defence to the crowd to the defence again.
Hell hath no fury like a Forest scorned, they say, and hopes were raised as the youngsters in red pressed for a second goal. Matty Cash, who absolutely made the most of his opportunity on the day, pitched a wonderful shot against the post, but Kasami couldn't convert the rebound. Vellios's cracker was saved, Osborn tried his luck when perhaps he should have passed. Twisty's pace took him beyond a labouring Wiggum defence, but he too failed to beat their goalkeeper. The half ended with the match threatening to become a frustrating hell all of its own.
Eight minutes into the second half, and we were in heaven again. This time the heaven was of its own making, composed entirely of a splendid sequence of events: Cohen simultaneously placing the ball for a free kick and staring downfield to track Twisty's run, then delivering a sixty yard pass onto Twisty's chest. Twisty controlled it perfectly and bounced it past their keeper. A heavenly move, accompanied by hugs and relief and that swelling conviction that one of our own was becoming a star before our very eyes.
And then a penalty, manufactured by the wise old head of Chris Cohen. And then hell again, as Vellios, desperate for his first goal, delivered a weak attempt which was saved. And then a deeper hell, as Hildeberto failed to stop a cross and a completely unmarked Grigg nodded home past a surprised Henderson. This hell was worse because it was not entirely unexpected. Another reshuffled defence, another chaos of dim reaction and uncoordinated effort, another simple goal for the opposition. The Forest players looked at each other, not exactly knowing who to blame.
The City Ground was turning into the Theatre of the Absurd. A beautiful through pass by Cash (we think) was collected by Twisty, who scored an angled goal with some expertise. Heaven again, surely this time one that promised light at the end of a rocky journey. But no. Not long later a Wiggum throw in was headed backwards by Mancienne, and Grigg pounced again. This really was hellish, like being trapped in some Victorian asylum full of half-lit, haunted faces. The crowd were now anticipating the deepest hell of all, the one we'd be plunged into when Wiggum scored their winner.
Well at least Forest seemed to be avoiding that particular horror, as full time ticked into extra time, leading to odd musings about why Forest matches always last longer than everybody else's, about whether Will Grigg's unenthusiastic celebrations meant that he was off to pastures new, about how the Forest defence could possibly manufacture
the father of all cockups in the dying moments. And then, in added time, came the final death, the final petite mort as the French say (look it up). Hildeberto performed one last bit of wriggling magic and crossed precisely to Lam, who swept it home. What fresh heaven was this? The lunatics broke out of the asylum and scattered joyously through the grounds. Grown men swore undying love for the centre half. The Theatre of the Absurd exploded in earthy appreciation. Forest had won 4-3 again.
So after all these deaths, where does that leave us? Well, somewhere between heaven and hell, in a place that's called Purgatory. That sounds bad, but I would remind you that everyone who enters Purgatory is eventually purged of their sins and ends up in heaven. How long we have to wait for that, however, is anybody's guess.
GAME 5 AUGUST 27 2016 FOREST 3 LEED 1
We were going to say what an exciting match that was, how even Stress was begiinning to admit that the team was becoming a more coherent outfit, that the defence was beginning to find its feet, that the midfield and attack, even without Britt, was looking threatening and occasionally awesome. How well they played, we were going to say - Perquis, Osborn, Lansbury, Kasami, the mad Hildeberto, in fact all of them.
We were going to comment on Monk's graceless and wildly inaccurate analysis of the match, putting it down to the pressure he is under at that club, a pressure which turns all its managers sour. Contrast that, we thought, with Mister Mountaineer's calm rationality.
We were going to say that the only down-side to our victory was the increasing speculation about the sale of Oliver Burke. It seemed that every comment on his success was accompanied by some cynical side-note: the that's put another five million on his value kind of quip, or that remark during the latest incarnation of crap League Football shows: All they've got to do is keep him till Wednesday. It seemed that everybody was trying to sell him, the best Forest prospect for years and years. We were going to reassure ourselves with Mister Mountaineer's words about Burke's future, that he would be best served staying at Forest.
And then they sold him, within hours of that bit of brilliance which clinched the victory against Dirty Leed.
We were not shocked, just disillusioned, again. Forest, or rather Fawaz, had sold our best prospect, the young man who was going to drive Forest into an exciting future, to some German side financed by a company that produced canned caffeine. We read all the reactions, the emotional, the reasonable, the conspiracy-based garbage, the bite-your-tongue-and-try-to-explain-it-away brigade, and ended up feeling exactly how we had done when we first heard the news. Disillusioned.
Why was he sold? Because Fawaz needed to re-finance the club to buy players without plunging us back into embargo. Because Fawaz is still the C.E.O. making the big decisions, which, worryingly, casts doubt on the "investment" deal which doesn't seem to have turned up yet. However much is re-invested, it's not going to replace Burke. However much people try to rationalise their way through it, selling Burke is not going to make Forest a better side. It does, however, say a lot about the fragile authority of the manager and director of football at Forest. It says an awful lot about the state of modern football with its cattle-market capitalism and its cynical disregard for supporters' hopes.
We just wanted Twisty to stay, to mature with the team which had fostered his career. We think he would have stayed, happily. We're just disillusioned. But we tell ourselves not to worry, because whatever happens, Fawaz won't allow us to end up like Blackburn. He's far too clever for that.
GAME 6 SEPTEMBER 11 2016 VILLA 2 FOREST 2
How anybody could feel anything but pride in the team and the fans after that display is beyond us.
Consider the odds stacked against Forest. Several of our best players were missing. Two more injuries during the match added to the toll. We were "weak" up front. The team is still in the "slightly incoherent" stage of development. Villa sported an expensive set of Premier League players. They were at home, as was the boiled egg of a referee. The media script was pre-written - Villa were a class outfit who would cruise past a higgle-piggle Forest side on their inevitable rise to the top. It was simply a matter of waiting for the goals to come.
It seemed like that in the first half - waiting for the goals to come. There were several of those "watch through your fingers" moments, or in some cases "lower your eyes and pretend to be interested in your shoelaces" moments. Come on, we've all done it - if you're not looking then nothing bad will happen, innit? Forest's possession seemed to consist mostly of clearances, as Villa pressed high and exploited our flanks, Lansbury played deep, Kasami was having an off day, Osborn struggled on the wing etc. It did seem a matter of time. But as the first half ticked by, there came the tentative realisation that Forest appeared to have misread the script.
For a start, though the midfield weren't doing too well, the Forest defence were not playing that badly. Fox sort of dealt with Ayew early on; Gardner loosed a skier; Ayew cleared the bar with a free kick; the overrated McCormack muffed a chance at the foot of the post; Ayew bobbled a chance wide; Codger drove a powerful header low to Vlad's right, but Vlad impaled it brilliantly. None of this was luck. It was a combination of poor finishing, brave defensive play and brilliant goalkeeping. It was also evident that Forest's stubbornness was causing some funny looks between Villa team mates.
The second half started with a couple more wayward efforts from Villa, and it looked as though normal service would resume. But then something funny happened. It was obvious that Forest couldn't get much forward momentum, and this seemed to piss Henri Lansbury off. He took it upon himself to run over half the length of the pitch to close down the Villa goalkeeper. It was not much in itself, but what it signalled was that Forest weren't going to lie down and simply take it, and it had the Forest fans on their feet.
Not long afterwards Forest scored. A move down the left saw the ball moved to Vellios, twenty five yards out from goal, and the Greek bloke launched a missile into the top of the net, the goalkeeper beaten by sheer pace and swerve. And that's why we're at odds with those who say we were lucky or we didn't deserve the result or those who analyse games to death. In the end, football is not about luck or analysis or agenda-driven gripes. It's about moments, the kind of special moments you'll remember for a long time. Vellios's goal was one of these. There was an even better one to come.
Anyway, Villa tried to hit back with a ferocious shot which struck the bar - you know, one of those which isn't actually a goal because the frame of the goal doesn't count the last I heard - and after more pressure Forest cracked. Within a couple of minutes the overrated McCormack had fluked one through Mancienne's legs and Gestede had kicked Lichaj's face into the net - something which is apparently allowed these days unless you're Forest. Everything looked lost, until, once more, a Forest player got pissed off.
Everybody knows that at least a couple of the Forest players are probably unbalanced, and one of these is Hilderberto. He managed to get himself booked in a kerfuffle which should have resulted in harsher punishment for a Villa player. This seemed to upset him greatly, to the point where he decided to win the game himself. He set off from several miles out on what seemed a kamikaze run towards goal, glided past one, bamboozled another two, and ended his run with a piece of wonderment that beggared description. The ball rolled sideways to Lansbury, who slotted it gleefully into the net with the outside of his right foot. It was such a brilliant display of bewildering skill that the roar for the goal had gone up before the goal had been scored.
There were many swear words employed to express joy and disbelief, but even more greeted Hildeberto's dismissal. Those defending the boiled egg's decision, and there aren't many, quote the rules about perimeter walls or something, but forget that the ref has a degree of discretion in such matters. He could just as easily have warned Hildeberto about his future conduct, but he chose to follow the script, which dictated that he should do everything in his power to spoil Forest's day.
Well, that was that. Forest re-wrote the script and nourished a legend. We will long remember Vellios' thunderbolt, Vlad's amusing behaviour, Hildeberto's blinding run, Henri's goal and the subsequent celebrations, and the Sky-funded boiled egg of a referee. Everything else is just history's dishwater.
GAME 7 SEPTEMBER 14 2016 ROTHERINGHAM 2 FOREST 2
I love this kind of football, not only because it's entertaining, but also because it makes conventional match reporting almost impossible. In order to fully understand this match, and indeed what is going on at Forest, you would need to consult a reputable psycho-analyst rather than the bland mutterings of mainstream media.
I think the club has gone mental, in a nice way. We already know that some of the players are a bit unbalanced, but this is only one issue in a catalogue of oddnesses that keeps cropping up on matchday.
The Plan, for example. The Plan seems to comprise the following:
1.   Because of either injury or an apparently unhinged desire to rotate everything under the sun, the defensive personnel change match by match and even within the match itself. This leads to an exciting brand of chaos. At key moments players forget not only their own responsibilities but also those of their team mates. Sometimes they seem to forget who or where they are. Rotheringham's first goal came from some of our defenders, including the defensive midfield players we don't have, being sucked upfield, leaving some Rotheringham bloke to run at our backtracking defence. The bloke who ran wide and scored went unnoticed until it was too late. Rotheringham's second goal admittedly was a bit lucky as the ball was won by a foul, but watching the Forest defenders skittering around like bluebottles was painful. You can't coach that kind of mental breakdown. It stems from an inability to sense danger early enough. It can be cured, but only by installing a proper defensive midfielder, delivering a defensive arse-kicking, or subjecting the defensive players to a course of severe mental readjustment.
2.   Because of either injury or an apparently unhinged desire to rotate everything under the sun, the midfield personnel change match by match and even within the match itself. This leads to an exciting brand of chaos. As well as leading to defensive problems when the midfield wanders off for a fag, it generates an unpredictability which is scary for the opposition, and a pace and fluency which can be spectacular. Of course it doesn't always link up properly, but that's because relationships haven't yet formed between whoever is playing at the time, but the promise is there in bucketloads.
3.   Because of either injury or an apparently unhinged desire to play Vellios up front on his own, the Greek bloke has started scoring some of the most breathtaking goals you will ever see. Last night's goal was a feat of world class athleticism. This seems to be a core part of The Plan - don't give Vellios the ball much so that he gets cheesed off enough to try something remarkable.
4.   "Getting cheesed off" is also part of The Plan. When Forest are up against it, they seem to react with adrenalin-fuelled anger. The latter stages of last night's match were frenetic, driven by a team spirit so intense it bordered on the insane. Watching Forest in such a mood is a bit frightening to be honest, especially to ageing supporters whose knees aren't what they were.
5.   Forget the previous four points. There is, of course, no Plan. Or at least, The Plan is so long term its fulfilment is miles away. It probably has something to do with fluid selection, positioning and responsibilities, a total footballing ethos which is wonderful when it works but at the moment, here on the battlefields of the Championship, seems alien and a bit crazy. What we're left with is a variably functional group of talented players who alternately take the breath away and shred your sphincters, but who, and this is most important, have formed an emotional bond with their fans
which hasn't been there for years. We appear, probably by Alchemy, to have become the most exciting and entertaining team in the league.
MISTER EGG'S CHAMPIONSHIP REVIEW
SEPTEMBER 17th 2016
FOREST 1 NORRIDGE 2
Monty's Flying Circus lost for the first time on home soil as Norridge came from behind to blah blah blahdy blah. Boss Neil said: "I just questioned them. I asked them how much they wanted it. Did they want to go on and win this game? What were they made of? How many U.S. presidents had served a second term? How many Diehard films had been made? They answered all these questions in the second half. Well, almost all of them. In the end, all you can ask of your players is pretty vague questions which require non-verbal responses and then pray to God they get the rub of the green. Which they did."
Reds head coach Philip Mountaineer was disappointed with the manner of his team's performance.
"Norridge are one of zer big cheeses in zer Championship and we needed to be at zer higher level. We were a little timide wiz zer ball and also in defence. We made things too easy for zem.
After zer penalty save we had a good reaction and we took zer lead. We wanted to keep playing in zer same way, but our level of mindless brilliance fell away and we handed them zer game on a platter. It was disappointing but at least it was not us playing like time-wasting robots at zer end. "
DIPSWITCH 0 VILLA 0
Villa boss Di Matteo insisted his side had not been lucky despite failing to register a shot on target during the whole match. "We played reasonably well during the first half," he said. "The second half was a bit more difficult but it was a good solid performance at a place that is always difficult to play at, because it is always so boring here, stuck out in the middle of nowhere, and so flat. I have never been to a place that is so flat."
Dipswitch boss Mick McCarthorse said: "My players gave everything they had. That doesn't amount to a hill of beans, or a hill of any size, I know, but when you've played in this part of the country for as long as I have you come to realise that mind-crushing boredom is an integral part of life here, which suits me fine."
CAERDYDD 0 LEED 2
"We have a new group, new manager, new ideas, and we are taking it step by step," Leed boss Monk said after second-half goals from Chris Wood and Pablo Hernandez settled the contest. "This victory was another step in me keeping the job for another week or two."
Caerdydd remain in the bottom three after a fourth successive defeat, with the club having won only once all season. Bluebirds boss Paul "Who?" Trollope said referee Graham Scott "changed the game" when he blew his whistle for the kick off. "If he hadn't done that, we might have got away with a result," said Trollope. "As it was, his actions instigated another woeful display, and once more we see that officials at this level are simply not up to the job."
BOREMINGHAM 2 WENDIES 1
Boremingham scored two late goals to come from behind to beat Wendies who lost because they only scored one. Boremingham boss Rowett went on for ages about revenge and spirit and penalty taking technique and matters of such soul-blenching insignificance that rumours of Hinkley Point C's completion were rife before he had finished.
Wendies manager Carlos Carlosvalhalos could not hide his disappointment with the result. He said: "I am very happy with our form. I am happy we are playing fantastic but not scoring. I am not happy with our not scoring. I am happy we scored one, but one is never enough when the opposition score more than one. About this I am not very happy. I do not know whether I am happy or not happy. I find it odd that when you repeat a word over and over it seems to lose all meaning. Happy. Happy. See what I mean?"
BRISTOLS 1 SHEEP 1
Bristols' boss Lee Johnson was grateful to substitute Aaron Wilbraham (yes, he's still alive) for a stoppage time equaliser against the goal-shy Sheep. Johnson said: "I'm really pleased for goalkeeper Frank Fielding. Someone said well done in the dressing room afterwards and there was a spontaneous round of applause from the players because they all love him. That's the kind of cheesily disturbing atmosphere I like to foster in the changing room, after all."
Sheep boss Nigel Pearson had good cause to regret his side's lack of finishing power.
"You could see by the players' reaction at full-time how disappointed they were," he said. "We continue to stutter as a direct result of not converting the chances we are making." Pearson continues to sound like one of those weather presenters who insist that the only reason for increasing turbulence in our weather systems is the dislocation of the jet stream, notably failing to explain why the jet stream is acting so weirdly in the first place. In the same way, Pearson consistently fails to explain why his players are not converting chances. Are they crap? Does his influence inhibit them? We'll probably never know, because according to Pearson, "You can't spend too much time beating yourselves up about it."
BENTFORD 5 PRESTON NOB END (misprint) 0
Four goals in 13 minutes, including a first Bees hat-trick for Scott Hogan, a Harlee Dean strike and a Chris Humphreys own goal, gave the scoreline an emphatic look that Nob End supremo Simon "Flies in the Eyes" Grayson insisted didn't reflect the game. He said: "We started well and were on top, created good chances and counter attacked well and then Brentford scored against the run of play. We started positively but then they scored their second, and even though we started positively they scored a third, but despite our postive start they scored a fourth, and their fifth came after we started positively. This is a massive learning curve." No it's not, Simon. A learning curve is something that's plotted over time. This was just a shit performance.
BLACKBum 4 ROTHERINGHAM 2
Blackbum manager Owen Coyle was quick to praise the courage of his team to keep playing positive football.
"The most important thing today was to win," he said. "It was important we got the three points, but it was the manner of the performance and how we won which was most important. What was most important was the way we played after going one down, and even at 3-2 they picked themselves up and scored a wonderful fourth goal. That was the most important thing of all." No, Owen, what's most important is that you occasionally shut up, because a highly significant number of people don't care.
Millers manager Alan Stubbs, the position of whose eyes continues to intrigue, was angry at the 'significant' part his side's defending played in the defeat and threatened to make changes in future.
He said: "To be honest, I'm saying the same thing most weeks. First of all, you have to keep working at it and keep saying the same things week in week out. If not, leave them out." Which we've done.
Words, after all, do not avoid relegation.
WIGGUM 0 COTTAGING 0
Wiggum boss Gary Caldwell believes his side are up there with the best attacking teams in the Championship despite their dull 0-0 draw with Cottaging.
"As an attacking team, I don't think there's many better in the league. The way we pass the ball is excellent, we cause teams a lot of problems, and we have attacking players who can score goals. My God we're good. Sometimes on my home computer I watch our videos all night just to remind myself how pleasurable our performances are."
Fulham head coach Slavisa Jokanoslavisovic said he was not satisfied with the Cottagings overall performance. "I cannot be satisfied because we didn't score," Jokanoslavisovic said. "At the end it's good news because we kept the clean sheet but we didn't score a goal. We are trying to build something different here." A non-scoring team, presumably.
NEWCASTLE 0 WONDERBRAS 2
Asked if his players had allowed themselves to be carried away by their exploits at Loftus Road, Newcastle chief Benítez said: “No, I don’t think so because we were talking about that the day after, we were talking about that the day before, we were talking about that the day itself, so they knew how important it was to be concentrated and then do the things we had talked about on these days. But it’s more about the decisions. The football decisions were wrong and then we put ourselves under pressure. It’s not that you have to forget – you have to forget but try to understand why and try to correct things as soon as possible.” All of which might make some sense if it made any sense at all.
Walter Zenga was more plain speaking. He insisted that he was enjoying certain aspects of his visit to earth, though he was looking forward to returning to his home planet of Zenga'a when his work here was done.
GAME 10 SEPTEMBER 24 2016 WENDIES 2 FOREST 1
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Why do we do "Frequently Asked Questions", Pie?
Because it's less boring. "Frequently Asked Questions" gets to the truth with surgical precision, as well as furnishing the reader with those fascinating details which sadly go missing in the tedious bumfluff you get in regular match reports.
For instance, did you know that there are places in Shropshire where, whichever way you walk, you end up going uphill? You'd never get that in a match report.
Probably because it's both irrelevant and untrue. But tell me, are you of Mister Mountaineer's opinion, that most referees are bastards?
He didn't say that, did he?
I'm asking the questions, Pie.
I take it you're referring to Mister Friend's performance during the Wendies game. He did miss the obvious foul on Osborn which led to the breakaway for their goal. He and his linesman did misread the throw-in decision which immediately preceded their goal. But what Mister Mountaineer has to learn about the Championship, amongst other things, is that the referees are the spawn of Satan whose anti-Forest bias is ingrained in their blackened and wholly incompetent souls.
So we were unlucky to lose?
Of course we were unlucky to lose. Some say that "these things even themselves out" which is such a stupid argument. First of all it provides an excuse for referees' incompetence. Secondly, it's like telling somebody in Shropshire not to worry because they're bound to be heading downhill sooner or later.
So Wendies didn't deserve to win?
A draw would have been fair. It was, to be honest, not much of a match. It looked to me like two fairly average sides battling away in a fairly average fixture. Forest's problem, apart from the referee, was that they didn't create enough, which sounds odd when you consider their defensive weaknesses. There were some fluent passages of play, but too little punch up front. I thought the defence did okay, not brilliant, but okay. I think we would have been a more potent attacking force with Hildeberto playing higher up, Lichaj at right back and Cohen at left back.
So you think Mister Mountaineer tinkers too much?
I think Mister Mountaineer wants the players to be versatile, to be able to play in a number of positions, and to play football. Unfortunately this approach is being hampered by, firstly, the chronic Forest injury problem. Players who are more comfortable with this style, such as Lam and Perquis, are not available. Secondly, there is the perception that rotation and readjustment does not work in Championship football, that "the settled side" is far more effective. This has been fairly evident in the last few matches in terms of the opposition. The Wendies for example did at times look a more settled and coherent side than Forest, with slicker, more practised moves. Thirdly, this kind of analysis bores the crap out of me, whereas the sporadic brilliance of Forest's play I find engaging, so I don't mind Mister Mountaineer persevering with his experiments for the time being.
Are you sure?
Nope. I'm pretty much as mixed up as Forest's form and results. What I do know is the sooner we get Britt back, the more sure I'll be. And the sooner we get a win or two, the safer I'll feel.
So how did you feel, honestly, after the Wendies match?
A bit angry at the manner of our defeat. A bit gloomy at Henri and his fifth booking. A bit disappointed that we only played okay for much of the match. A bit worried about three defeats in a row. But mostly a bit sad when I learned that the Sheep had lost at home to Blackbum and I laughed out loud. It is sad, isn't it, when your mood is brightened by the misfortune of others, when you find succour in the febrile rantings on the Sheep forums? Sad, in the sense of being bloody hilarious, you understand.
Football is a funny old game, isn't it?
It's certainly funnier than walking miles uphill in Shropshire, then turning round and seeing that the way back is uphill too. That's not funny at all.
Do you know that there's a crossroads near us where, whichever way you walk, the wind's against you?
No, I'm lying. But it's more interesting than doing a match report on another defeat.
Which is, my wise young friend, why we do "Frequently Asked Questions", isn't it?
I thought so.