Five home games and five wins is quite remarkable form for a Nottingham Forest side that seemed so hapless towards the back end of Stuart Pearce’s tenure.
Dougie Freedman wasn’t particularly fancied by anyone when it was announced he would be replacing the departing Pearce but credit where it is due he has swung us all in his favour.
If we were to lose Freedman at the end of the season I would be gutted and keeping him now is a must.
During last night’s game with Rotherham United, Forest weren’t at their fluent best but what they have developed under the new boss is character, and we are currently showing it in abundance.
Credit where it’s due, Steve Evans’ side were organised and came with a game plan. Unfortunately their plan didn’t compensate for a Forest goal and from the moment Dexter Blackstock opened the scoring with a cheeky lob the points were only going in one direction.
Back to Forest under Freedman though and if someone had said to me after the home defeat to Millwall on January 31st that we would win the next five games at the City Ground, I would have labelled them as deluded. We were playing that poorly I couldn’t see where the next home goal was coming from, never mind a win.
Forest are a different animal at present though and every player looks like they are working for each other and more importantly buying into the manager’s philosophies.
Freedman said this week that talent alone will not get a player into his side but sheer determination and willingness to do well would contribute also. Eric Lichaj is a prime example of that. The American full-back will never be technically the best but his work rate and desire for the cause since Freedman’s arrival has been second to none.
Michail Antonio netted his 13th goal of the season last night and I have to say I really am starting to run out of superlatives for this boy.
If Eden Hazard or Wayne Rooney had scored the same goal as Antonio did against the Millers last night, Sky Sports would currently be editing it to feature on adverts showcasing the beautiful game.
After picking the ball up in his own half the former Sheffield Wednesday man held off five, possibly six, players before unleashing an unstoppable effort past the outstretched arm of Adam Collin in the Millers goal.
If he keeps producing goals like that I doubt he will be a Forest player for long, and he will certainly be attracting interest from bigger clubs than West Bromwich Albion too.
We move on to Norwich on Saturday now in what is looking like our biggest game of Freedman’s tenure so far.
Our following two games see Wolves come to the City Ground on Good Friday before an Easter Monday trip south to face Brentford.
I have said all along that we need to stay in touch with the promotion pack ready for one of them to wobble and as we sit eight points away from sixth place it is imperative we collect a decent points total from the next three games.
I still think to expect us to reach the play-off places is a little farfetched but it would be nice to keep winning football matches between now and the end of the season and let’s see where it takes us. If we should miss out then we get ‘back on the bike’ and prepare to go again next season.
One thing that we are showing at the minute is just how good our squad is. Freedman is unable to call upon Chris Cohen, Andy Reid, Jack Hobbs, Britt Assombalonga and Matty Fryatt.
I saw Derby supporters moaning the other night that they failed to beat Middlesbrough due to the injury to Chris Martin. Blimey lads, shall we swap injury lists. We put two past Boro and beat them even with our medical mishaps – it’s called hard work and getting on with the task in hand.
The point I am making is that Freedman isn’t interested in waxing lyrical about the people he can’t pick but instead is focusing on the group of players he does have available.
We finally have a manager who isn’t interested in making excuses for poor results and is happy to be working with a squad of players as strong as the one which we currently have on Trentside.