Cottagers Confidential: Congratulations on hiring a manager. That's something I wish Fulham could emulate. What can you tell us about Dougie Freedman (and what kind of adult exactly still goes by Dougie?) and what do the supporters thing of him so far?
Seat Pitch: Well, we’re actually pretty good at hiring managers — it’s keeping hold of them we seem to have a problem with. The fact that Freedman’s still here is testament to the fact our owner Fawaz Al Hasawi is showing some patience for a change, rather than exercising that twitchy finger of his. We’ve not had the same manager for a whole season since he bought the club in July 2012, although many currently question whether he’s finally decided to give a stay of execution to the wrong man. After winning seven out of 10, we’ve only won five in 26 — although the football has undoubtedly been impressive on occasions and despite attempts on goal, scoring is the main problem. He’s made some impressive signings given our FFP-imposed situation and if/when Britt Assombalonga returns from his year-long knee injury we *might* be looking in pretty good shape. Of course, it could all go tits up very soon; in which case Dougie will be off. And yes, Dougie is an odd name for a grown man. As is Billy. We seem to have a penchant for Glaswegian managers with schoolboy names. Mind you, it’s probably preferable to Douglas or Doug; and infinitely preferable to doing an Andy/Andrew Cole.[*]
CC: You're currently 16th, 8 points off the last playoff spot, and with a negative goal differential. Is promotion still a viable target, or have you already started to build towards a push for next season?
SP: I prefer to think of it as five points clear of the relegation zone, which we were perilously close to before last Saturday’s comfortable 3-1 win over Reading. I don’t think promotion’s ever been a serious consideration this season, many thought we could at least trouble the play-off positions but as it transpires we’re battling our demons — transfer embargo, injuries, lack of strategy/plan/direction/leadership — and hoping it’s simply a period of transition before we can shake off some of those shackles. If we continue to progress this season, bring back some of those long-term injured players (notably the strikers Assombalonga and Matty Fryatt, alongside dynamo midfielder Chris Cohen) and come out of the embargo next summer, then we might be with a fighting chance of doing something — but that’s a lot of ifs.
CC: What style of football is Forest currently playing? If you were going to setup a team to beat them, how would you do it?
In a sense, it’s classic Forest — absorb pressure and hit on the break with pacey, attacking players. Except we’re inconsistent, sometimes poor and occasionally brilliant. We’ve been pretty solid in defence — just 19 goals in 18 games — but it’s that profligacy in front of goal that has prevented us climbing the table: just 16 goals from 220 chances created, more than any other Championship side. We did score three against Reading, the first time we’ve scored more than two goals in a league game since April, so maybe we’re on to something? (Maybe not.) If you want to beat us, score goals. Simples.
CC: Expected Lineup? Expected Result?
Predicted line-up: de Vries; Lichaj, Mills, Wilson, Pinillos; Mendes, Vaughan, Lansbury (c), Osborn; Oliveira, O’Grady.
As I’m ever hopeful, I’ll go for 2-1 to Forest.
[*] As someone who often goes by Andy, I will disagree with this statement vehemently.↩