Nottingham Forest travel to Stoke City today looking to make it five games without defeat in their quest to reach the Championship play-offs.
Martin O’Neill’s men go into the game on a crest of a wave following their first win in four years over fierce rivals Derby County on Monday night.
The Potters were in the Premier League this time last season and although this campaign is proving a tricky one, they will represent formidable opponents for Forest tomorrow.
Stoke are currently 18th in the Championship, so what has gone wrong for the club this season.
Having been tipped to waltz to the title we wanted to find out more about tomorrow’s opposition.
Seat Pitch sat down with David Cowlishaw from Wizards of Drivel and he gave us the lowdown on all things Stoke City ahead of today’s clash with Nottingham Forest.
Seat Pitch: You started the season as promotion favourites. Where did it all go wrong for Gary Rowett?
David Cowlishaw: Terrible football and terrible recruitment, with liberal dashes of arrogance and chipping off at the fans. We were fairly optimistic at his appointment, but having started the season with a sieve of a defence, Rowett stripped all attacking flair from the team and games became a real chore to watch. Save for Derby at home, we never managed a complete performance. Not only that, but we had a great knack of throwing games away. Just miserable viewing, with the most expensive squad in the league.
SP: You’ve recently plumped for Nathan Jones but don’t seem to have kicked on with a new manager bounce, is there an underlying issue at Stoke City?
DC: Yeah, the underlying issue is the squad. A mixture of Rowett and Hughes players who either lack the ability or just seemingly don’t want to be here. It’s going to take quite some time before we can really call this a ‘Nathan Jones team’. Our poor recruitment, not just this summer but in previous seasons, has cost us an immediate return to the top flight. Moreover, there seems to be a mentality issue in the side – see how agitated the crowd are at home games, how nervously some players seem to play, and our dreadful penalty record.
SP: What do you know about Nottingham Forest and what do you expect from today’s game?
DC: I think O’Neill’s a good short-term appointment but I can’t say I’d be particularly excited if he was our manager – though obviously he’s got the emotional connection to Forest. You’ve been a bit like us in that you’ve underwhelmed when you factor in what you’ve spent – just not to the same extent. If O’Neill can get you into the play-offs he’ll have done a great job. I’d rather you got in at the expense of Frank Lampard’s Derby, anyway. It’ll be a tough game, we’ve drawn and lost to you already this season and we’ve not got going yet – and you have more to play for. We’ll have to be on our mettle at the back.
SP: Which of our current squad would you love to see in your team?
DC: Most of them to be honest. We’ve lacked invention and guile this season so I imagine most of your attacking players would walk into our starting eleven. How we could do with someone like Lewis Grabban leading our line.
SP: Who is your danger man that we need to look out for today?
DC: Well, Tom Ince can have strong games but he certainly hasn’t shown that recently. If Bojan comes off the bench he has the potential to make a difference, as does Charlie Adam from deeper on the pitch. If Vokes is fit, he’s our best striker and already looks like an improvement on Afobe, he could cause you guys some issues with his hold-up play.
SP: What will the score be?
DC: I’m not confident, but I think our run of draws could continue. 0-0.