If, like me, the pain of Tuesday night was too much to bear then you probably can’t even look at the football headlines let alone read the match reports.
Nottingham Forest’s capitulation in a play-off semi-final AGAIN proves that there’s no such thing as third time lucky. We didn’t beat Blackpool in the third or even fourth game we played them this season – and we certainly didn’t succeed in our third play-off following heartbreak against Sheffield United and Yeovil Town.
But there remains hope. There are questions – ‘what if’ works on many levels. There are concerns. And there are the facts.
This season has been an unqualified success. We finished third in a very tough division. We beat the two teams who gained automatic promotion, we thrashed the likes of Leicester, QPR and Doncaster and we played some beautiful, beautiful football. If you saw Leyton Orient-Forest just a couple of years ago you’ll know how far we’ve come – League One is a horrible, horible place. I never want to go back there.
The clubs coming down from the Premier League are in dire straits – Portsmouth remain in administration, Hull are fighting administration and Burnley aren’t the same Burnley without Owen Coyle. There are no favourites next season, the Championship (as usual) is wide open.
With a handful of key signings this summer, Forest should have a full and balanced squad. Two players for every position will make a huge difference.
Some players may leave, we’ll manage. Again, Billy Davies’ posturing raises questions. If he’s angling for a better contract, a bigger budget and, presumably, a bigger say in the club then fair enough. His media style might grate a little but, to be fair, it’s taken the pressure off the players for most of the season.
Nigel Doughty insists that he’s staying – and I want to believe him. If he means it then there must be concessions being made.
But if history is repeating itself then I have more concerns for Davies’ career than that of Forest’s immediate future. Rubbing chairmen and fans up the wrong way, leaving after just a few seasons and never quite making the Premier League raises questions about commitment — let’s hope after Preston and Derby it’s third time lucky at Forest. The manager’s position is no longer the poisoned chalice it once was, we can find somebody new. But I’d much rather he settled down, created a team that will bag an automatic position and prepare us for a long future in the Premier League. It’s been far too long… Bring on 2010/2011.