Blues v Forest preview

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February 1, 2013 by Made In Brum

So, it’s the eagerly-awaited return of Mr McLeish (rumours last night suggested he had resigned, apparently not) to St Andrews as we play host to a Nottingham Forest side struggling for form at the minute. Though I can understand why a lot of Blues fans are angry with McLeish for leaving us to go to Villa, my desire for a win is purely based on the need for 3 points rather than personal revenge. I’m sure many people will disagree with me, but my own opinion is that he wasn’t that good a manager for us anyway, he had us playing boring football and what happened is in the past, so I think we should rise above him.

A look at the squad

Jack Butland completed a £4 million transfer to Stoke, although he remains at Blues on loan until the end of the season. Whilst I think that’s a respectable deal for us (if the money we receive goes back into the club, that is) I would have liked to have got it done earlier. It frustrates me how long it takes for transfers to go through, because we badly need to improve the squad and get a couple of players in on loan. Wes Thomas could be in the squad after he joined on loan from Bournemouth.

We’ve kept hold of Curtis Davies which I’m very relieved about. If we lost him at the centre of the defence I would really fear for us, because Caldwell and Pablo lack a physical presence. One thing that is for certain is that Chris Burke will be playing on Saturday as a bid thought to be in the region of £500K from Forest was turned down by Blues and McLeish refused to go any higher.

Thankfully the return of Mullins hasn’t marked the end of the Gomis-Reilly partnership, because with Spector out, that’s our best midfield duo. In matches I’ve seen them play together, such as the first half at Huddersfield (before Reilly went off in that match) we’re rarely outrun in the centre of the park. That’s not really the case with Mullins. I’m hoping the knock Rob Hall picked up at Burnley last week wasn’t a telling one, because he’s been vital for us in his loan spell, contributing a very useful ability from set pieces.

It was Zigic who made the impact again last week. It was him who got the flick-on for King to score the winner, and I do think his threat is increased when he comes off the substitutes bench. Over the last couple of months or so when Marlon King has been injured, the defence has had to play against the pace of players like Redmond and Morrison for 70 minutes. It means that when Zigic comes on, they’re already quite tired and don’t have the energy to compete for those direct, high balls, which Zigic has an easy time getting. It can seem like a dubious decision from Clark not to start with a recognised striker in games when Zigic is fully fit available, but I do believe there has been a strong enough dose of method in his apparent madness.

A bit about Forest

It seems strange to think that little over 30 years ago, Nottingham Forest were twice Champions of Europe, under the guidance of the great man Brian Clough. I think it’s fair to say that since then, they’ve gone backwards in terms of division and in quality of manager!

Interestingly, when it was founded, the club’s traditional colours were chosen to be ‘Garibaldi Red’- that’s just ‘red’ to you and me. It was actually a mark of respect for Giuseppe Garibaldi, the leader of the Italian freedom fighters who were popular in England at the time. They always wore red shirts.

Nowadays, Forest are hitting a bit of a lull in form, and need to step things up again quickly if they want to make a push for the play-offs. Sean O’Driscoll was very strangely sacked by the new board after they beat Leeds 4-2 and went within a point off the play-off places, but Alex McLeish has won just 1 of his opening 6 games in charge. They are now 6pts away from the play-offs, having played a game more than a couple of teams above them, and their play-off ambitions took big setback last week when they lost 3-0 at home to Watford.

My prediction

I’ve got a very good feeling about the game. Although I’m not particularly inspired by the idea of giving McLeish a hostile reception – I would rather just forget about him – I think it may create an intimidating atmosphere, which the young players can thrive in. There’s got to be a clean sheet around the corner somewhere, we’ve gone 16 games without one, so I think goals from Marlon King and Nikola Zigic will give us a 2-0 win.

By Gabriel Sutton (@_thescore)

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