Raving Red: Jury still out

With just one win in ten games, you might be forgiven for thinking life on the banks of the river Trent is not as rosy as Billy Davies makes out.

While the international break may well serve as a welcomed reprieve for both players and supporters, there is no guarantee Forest will come out firing on all cylinders at Elland Road come Saturday.

Having had more than a week to mull over what was a comprehensive defeat at the hands of Swansea, the fiery Scot will be hoping his team show more of the scintillating form which propelled them into second spot in the Championship in early February, rather than that of late.

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It would seem, however, the Reds boss might just be getting a little ahead of himself.

Amongst the post-match pre-prepared media mumbo jumbo supporters have come to expect, there was little talk of the game itself at the Liberty Stadium.

Little on how desperate his side looked chasing Scott Sinclair’s shadow, or how unimaginative Forest looked going forwards, or how the score line could, and probably should, have been far greater than it appeared on paper.

He was more concerned on how this grand occasion marked the end of The Bad Run which has seen Forest freefall to sixth, with the possibility of being edged out of the play-offs all together if Reading win their game in hand.

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As the experienced manager that he is, Davies will know more than most he is only as good as his last game.

And against Swansea we were dire.

The continuity had gone, confidence was dented, and the clinical and incisive breakaways, which were a highlight amid January, were nowhere to be seen.

Surprisingly though, at a ground which is less favourable for away teams to score at, Forest managed to find the net not just once, but twice - almost grabbing what would have been an unlikely, and on the face of it, undeserved, equaliser late on through Paul Anderson’s diving header, which bounced back off the post.

But it is here where Davies’ biggest problem lies, goals.

He has at his disposal a front line which makes envy reading for most Championship managers, yet only Hull City have scored less home and away in the top ten this season.

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Without the injured Dexter Blackstock, who netted five times before his horrific injury, the Reds have a small army of what we have been led to believe were goalscorers.

Robert Earnshaw, Marcus Tudgay, David McGoldrick, Dele Adebola, Nathan Tyson, and most recently £30,000-a-week loanee Kris Boyd, have a combined total of 19 goals between them.

You could argue a defence for Boyd, considering he’s only been at the club for five minutes, but as a whole the front pack are not weighing in with enough to warrant a realistic promotion push.

And while the forwards are firing blanks - and Lewis McGugan searches for the same pair of boots he was wearing v Ipswich at the City Ground - much praise has to go to the back five.

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Without Northern Ireland’s new number one, and the form of Wes Morgan and Luke Chambers at the heart of the defence, the Reds would be swilling around in mid-table austerity.

Not the progression Davies, or the fans, would have wanted after last season’s dizzy heights.

So far, Davies’ reign at the City Ground reads more than impressive.

He has, under his own admission, taken this club from fighting one end of the table to the other.

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No easy feat. And one that has ignited some to suggest he is the best manager we’ve had at the club since Brian Clough.

Some stretch of the imagination when you consider the road to European football in 1994/95, under Frank Clark, and promotion to the Premiership in 1998, under Dave Bassett.

Both these sides boasted at least one proven goalscorer in Stan Collymore (alongside Bryan Roy) and Pierre Van Hooijdonk (with Kevin Campbell).

Attaining someone who could inject such volume of goals is a different story - though given some of their records you wonder why we aren’t shattering the goals for column every week.

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There is no doubt Davies has got the club moving in the right direction, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves, most fans will know Davies is a decent Championship manager.

With eight games to play, the jury is still out on whether he can fire us in to the Prem, or at least get his strikers to.