Cottagers Confidential: Given your recent form, the play-offs have to be even less likely for Forest as they are for Fulham. What's your goal for the season now?
Seat Pitch: Admittedly we all had our hopes up at the start of the season – as we do most seasons – but it felt different this time, as though everything was finally coming together. Of course that feeling ended and it was quite crushing to realize that, in reality, this was to be a season of rebuilding; something I think many of us knew deep down anyway.
Whether Stuart Pearce is deserved of the criticism that comes his way remains to be seen, but he deserves a whole season (as any new manager should) and the majority of fans unquestionably want him to succeed; after all, he is a club legend. It's difficult to describe what he means to a certain generation of Forest fans, Neil Heath did a good job, but he inspires a certain love, passion and loyalty very few modern footballers will ever gain.
After the mess Billy Davies left us in (again) we were a club that needed fixing – scouting, academy links, board structure, finances – and off the pitch much is going right. We just need to build on Saturday's momentous win against Derby and show signs of a togetherness on the pitch that offers a glimpse of things to come.
In the Top One: Our goal, as always, is to run away with the league title, taking on all new comers and blowing them away in an ecstasy of dazzling and total football. But that's probably out of the question for this season.
Some still gaze longingly up at the play-offs, even though we seem solidly entrenched in mid-table and until Saturday, in the midst of a relegation form type run. Given events on Saturday, it's difficult to say since such events MIGHT change everything (yes, it's that big a result). Dignity has been emphatically restored now and obviously, seasons should not hinge on isolated results but there is the hope that confidence has been restored alongside the aforementioned dignity. Standard Forest protocol in recent seasons is to either reach the play-offs and bow out dramatically or to just miss out. Prior to Saturday, we were hurtling towards the bottom end of the table but now....well, in some ways, we'll be in a better position to say after this particular match since it's no good beating your close rivals in such a manner only to slump back to the form previously displayed (even though it was hugely satisfactory).
CC: Britt Assombalonga might be the steal of the season. What are the chances Forest can stop a bigger team from swooping in for him?
SP: It’s fair to say that we've not had a 20-goals-a-season striker for years – he’s not quite there yet but it’s difficult to see us capitalizing on that form this year (ie. promotion). I’d like to think he’ll be here for years but I think it’s important he’s here next season – another year in the Championship should make him ready for the step up to the Premier League, and hopefully it would be with us. Our Financial Fair Play situation will makes us vulnerable, to an extent, in the summer but fingers crossed he’ll stay put — his valuation at least will be a stretch for anyone to meet.
ITTO: Britt started astonishingly well and his goals record is impressive this season and the last calendar year. Stuart Pearce has been prone to asking him to warm the bench on occasions which is surprising but there has been the dd game where he has been anonymous, although this is more of a reflection of the performance of the team as whole rather than Britt personally. Against Derby (yes, that game again), he looked like he was back to the player we saw in August and September: harassing, incisive and scoring goals with a cheeky twinkle in his eye and on a mission to unsettle defenders before notching an obligatory goal. He still looks a little raw for the Premier League (even though I fully acknowledge the achievements of another ex-Peterborough player, Dwight Gayle) and I would be surprised if such a club thought he was worth the gamble yet. If another club made us an offer we couldn't refuse, that would be interesting since we are, after all, in the midst of a potentially long yet rather complicated transfer embargo.
CC: With the transfer window coming up, everyone is thinking about strengthening their squads. What positions do you feel need strengthening? If you could choose one Fulham player to move to your team who would it be and why?
SP: We're slightly hamstrung by a certain transfer embargo – we can sign players but there are conditions.
We've brought in Todd Kane and Gary Gardner on loan, from Chelsea and Aston Villa respectively, and I suspect we might add another youthful loan but that'll probably be it. To be honest, a fit Andy Reid for the rest of the season would do me - we've looked lost at times without our mercurial midfield talisman.
Obviously I'd take your goal scorers — Ross McCormack, Hugo Rodallega — but Lasse Vigen Christensen is clearly the man of the moment. Pearce likes youth and his performances in midfield would be more than useful.
ITTO: Ah...about that transfer window...even though we are under an embargo, this hasn't prevented us from making two signings in the shape of Gary Gardner and Todd Kane due to slippery rules regarding squad size and age of players. That might well be the extent of our business but it is difficult to tell. However, there is a school of thought that sees this as a sort of blessing in that it might create a sense of stability. As usual, we could do with a left back, even though it must be acknowledged that Eric Lichaj is starting to look more assured in this position (although he is very much right footed). With Jack Hobbs finally making a comeback after injury at centre back and Andy Reid close to a return, we possess a very good squad. Scott Parker has the potential to rip this league apart and would slot nicely into our midfield, bringing experience and leadership which we have sorely missed in Reid's absence. Ross McCormack always looks decent against us too, but so did another Leeds player in the shape of Luciano Becchio, to be fair. McCormack is one of those players that always seems to score against us so it would be nice to have him in our squad to prevent such an occurrence materializing.
Given that extraordinary game in September in which we somehow ran out 5-3 winners, this is not a game I had down as an away win but it will be very interesting to see how our payers react after Saturday: revert to meek and insipid performances or start playing like we all know they can. Should be interesting.