Happy hump day! Here’s Matt with his Forest in the future save. Things have taken a dramatic turn – catch up with part 6 here.
You join me on Boxing Day 2006 in my quest to make Nottingham Forest great again. We’re mid-way through season 2 and out of Europe but keeping pace with the front runners in the league, if only we could find some sort of form…
It’s 4th against 9th on Boxing Day as we take on Bolton away. Injuries have robbed us of some key performers, but I’m hopeful my squad can weather the busy festive period.
We’re not great and rely on Inge to rescue us a point. I think I might be relying on young Thompson in the absence of Debbah a little too much.
Some stalwarts are starting to return from injury, but none are fit enough to face Everton at home. We start well through Rubini, then concede immediately. Its back and forth for the rest of the half until Inge pops up in the box to send us into halftime in front. Young Thompson extends our lead and although Everton pull one back, we hold out for a win that keeps us 4th but a point off top spot.
Little Luis Enrique is recalled by Las Palmas so I’m short on defensive options at right wingback but keep faith with young Costacurta.
We fall behind to Birmingham away in our FA Cup quest but recover well to seal a 4-1 win. A returning Ascencio helping himself to 2 goals.
Staying with cup action, it’s a midweek visit from Sheff Utd in the League Cup Quarter Finals. It’s a tight game, their keeper getting MOTM tells most of the story, but a minute from time young Dutch maestro Inge seals the win and a semi-final spot against Newcastle.
It’s a strong statement of intent as we brush aside Ipswich at Portman Road on our return to league action, which is just aswell as the 3 teams above also record wins.
It’s tight at the top…
Things may change in our next match as we take on first place Watford, who have Figo and Giggs on either wing, but it’s Shay Given in goal who earns them a point in a fairly even 0-0 draw.
There’s nothing even when we take on West ham in the FA Cup 4th round, Inge and Debbah combining to devastating effect. Young Inge is growing into a vital player in this team now.
Of course, being the team we are, it’s back down to earth with a bump against man City in the league, leaving us 4th and 4 pts off Man Utd in 1st.
Maybe we’re just cut out for the domestic cup competition’s like Cloughie’s team of the late 80’s/early 90’s. This is reinforced when we sweep aside Newcastle in the first leg of the League Cup Semi-Final, 6-1. Rubini with 4! Shame we conceded one though.
Before the second leg, we’ll stick with the cup and our 5th round tie against Norwich City. Nelo settles the game, it was text book, and we’re into the quarters.
We’re even further than that in the League Cup. With a 5 goal cushion, I ring the changes for the return leg and am happy with a 1-1 draw to take us into the final against Leeds United.
Back to league action and we brush aside Hull 3-1, but we’re still 7pts off top spot. Ok we have a game in hand, but still.
Julen Guerrero has been a real bargain buy for us and has stayed fairly free of injury for a veteran. In contrast, young Brendan ‘Gazza’ Fisher has just recovered from shin splints, only to damage his hip in training and he’s out for the rest of the season. Always seems to be the problem with this regen.
I’m not sure if this signing is really worth it as he’s 34, but he may pop up with the odd important goal in the run in.
We’re too strong again for Newcastle at home in the league, Nelo, Inge and Debbah getting the goals to put us 3rd with a game in hand.
That game in hand is a midweek trip away to Sheff Utd, and it’s Debbah with a treble to put us 2nd and 2 pts off Man Utd.
Its FA Cup Quarter Final time and Rubini puts us in control against Sunderland before Jancker pulls one back. Guerrero makes the game safe and I give his compatriot Alfonso a 20 minute cameo, but no goals on his debut.
We’ll have Spurs in the semi-final, a replay of the 91 final, as I expect the papers will caption it.
It’s a dress rehearsal in the league in another midweek catch up game and it’’s action right from the start. Rubini after 5 minutes, then a response from Kovacevic 4 minutes later. Rubini puts us back in front, then Debbah makes it 3-1 before half time. The floodgates open in the second half and it’s a 7-2 rout. Good times!
Even though the troops are tired, I send the same team out 3 days later to face Leeds, where a 2-nil win and favourable results elsewhere puts us top of the pile with nine games to go, which seems like the perfect place to end this part. Join me next week where we’ll have the League Cup Final, the FA Cup semi-final and the league run in, it promises to be very interesting!
A quick look elsewhere:
Liverpool are up to 4th in Division 1 and looking good for a playoff spot, Czech striker Marek Suchoparek banging in the goals for them.
Lazio have pulled themselves out of the relegation zone in Serie A but are still 1pt from the drop zone.
Espanyol are 2nd in La Liga, 2 pts off Real Sociedad, they’re also in the Champions League quarter-finals, holding Milan to a 0-0 draw in the first leg.
You can follow Matt on Twitter @Matt_C_Wills