Amid the seemingly endless questions, Nottingham Forest delivered an answer of sorts on Tuesday night.

And then more questions.

In the build up to a meeting with Sheffield Wednesday, and for several weeks prior to that, the same issues kept cropping up.

When will Costel Pantilimon be dropped?

Why is Ben Osborn in the side?

Ditto Ben Watson?

What does Arvin Appiah have to do to get a look in?

How is Daryl Murphy leading the line?

Does Martin O’Neill know what he is doing?

When the team sheet dropped at Hillsborough, it felt like the Reds boss had deserted his principles in some ways.


(Photo by George Wood/Getty Images)

All of the questions above were answered.

Luke Steele was between the sticks, Jack Robinson at left-back, Watson not in the squad, Appiah handed a full debut and Murphy on the bench.

The result?

More away day woes and a 3-0 defeat.

That went well!

O’Neill had been keen to point out before heading to South Yorkshire that he, and he alone will pick the side that he considers best suited to do a job.

He said in the Nottingham Post: “I cannot – and you will understand this – explain the composition of my team every week.

“Whatever things come your way, that is up to me, I pick the team now.

“I deal with the players, I see them every single day. I see them on the training ground and I see them in matches.”

Against Wednesday, he appeared to be catering to the masses.



Joao Carvalho was once again among the substitutes, but that was about the only box the Reds boss didn’t tick.

And nothing changed.

Apart from the somewhat tiring questioning of whoever occupies the managerial hot-seat at any given time.

The constant blame game is doing nobody any favours.

There are no winners here, only losers – quite literally over the course of the last few days.

As boss, the buck ultimately stops with O’Neill.

We know that, he knows that, everybody knows that.

There are, however, a number of issues outside of his control that he cannot be expected to predict.

Regardless of your take on team selections and tactical blueprints, once an XI is picked it is down to the players to deliver.


(Photo by George Wood/Getty Images)

They aren’t.

Against Wednesday, how was O’Neill to know that Matty Cash would struggle to control a bag of cement at times, that Steele would go walkabouts, Lewis Grabban would shoot rather than pass and that Yohan Benalouane would persist with that cross-field ball to the assistant referee?

For 45 minutes, the Reds were well in the game.

Then they collapsed.

That is on the players, not the manager.

O’Neill has spoken of his side being “brittle”, and he is not wrong.

It is up to him to fix those faults, but to be lumping all of the blame at his door is to ignore the bigger picture.

What is the answer?

Well, we’re back to those questions again aren’t we!

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