As a Newcastle fan living in Nottingham I was obviously very happy when I saw that we’d been drawn to play Nottingham Forest in the Carling cup.
This article is very similar to what Mark has done with some of his “view from the away end” articles but I thought it’d be speaking to one of the many Forest fans that I know. Luckily I have chosen a Forest fan that understands football, and not picked one of many deluded fools. James actually knows his stuff about both Championship football and Premiership football, He also always provides good unbiased views about Newcastle.
I’ve done a small interview about his views about both teams which should hopefully give us an insight into a struggling Forest team before our 3rd round cup tie.
What do you think of our summer business?
It’s a shame you didn’t spend some more of the money you received for Andy Carroll to really improve the squad. Demba Ba will most likely grab goals, but I think you could have spent big on a quality striker. Someone like Papiss Demba Cisse. But your signings in midfield such as Cabaye and Obertan seem decent buys. And you’ve managed to bring in a left back (unlike us) to replace Enrique, who is young and has plenty of time to develop into a really good player.
What do you think to your teams start to the season?
It’s been very poor and extremely disappointing. We normally start slow but this is something different. We’re conceding far too many goals, not picking up points and there’s not enough drive and impetus in the squad. Obviously our performance against Derby at the weekend was a complete shambles and rightly described as “unacceptable” by McClaren. There is no positivity around the club at all at the moment. Something needs to change and fast.
What about our start?
I think you’ve made a brilliant start. You won your Derby fixture which was obviously really important. They should have finished the game with 8 men, but at least you came away with a win. You looked a good team against Villa. Unbeaten in your first 5 games, don’t think you can ask for much more.
Where do you think we will finish in the league?
I don’t think you’ll sustain your opening season form enough to push for a European spot, but I could see you finishing around mid-table and maybe break into the top half. I’ll say 9th come May.
Where do you think you will finish in the league?
With the current squad we have, I don’t think we have the depth to sustain a substantial promotion push for a third season running unfortunately. We have quality in pretty much every position, we just don’t have the right balance in the squad and those players aren’t really performing. We have five or six very good central midfield players, but we still haven’t solved our problems at left-back. At the moment it doesn’t look like we’re going to get close to the play-offs at all. Things can only improve and I think sooner or later we’ll get some results. But I think we’re looking at 9th or 10th at the moment, which is very mediocre and very disappointing.
What do you think of Steve McClaren, Billy Davies’ successor?
Initially I was really pleased with the appointment. We all know Billy Davies worked wonders at Forest but he was very outspoken. McClaren clearly has coaching credentials as he’s been a success in the past, but I’m not totally convinced by him yet. I don’t really see the passion in him. He looks quite lost on the touchline at the moment and casts a despondent figure.
It’s hard to pinpoint who is to blame. Is it the players not performing? Is it the manager not inspiring them? Is it the board not providing the manager with what he was promised? One thing is certain, despite many fans wishes, Billy Davies isn’t coming back, and we’ll have to back McClaren as much as we can for the time being. To be fair, McClaren did look hurt by the Derby day loss, but an apology isn’t a reprieve. He really needs to step up because the pressure on him at the moment is huge.
What do you think of Alan Pardew?
I think he’s a decent manager. I think he did really well at Southampton and was unfortunate to get sacked, but its seemed to benefit both parties with Southampton flying and Pardew landing a good Premiership job. While I can’t see him setting the world alight as a manager, he’s a steady, sensible guy who seems to says all the right things. I’m sure there is differing opinions among Newcastle fans as to whether he is the right guy for the job but, he’s not really done anything wrong so far.
James Perch has played for both teams, we obviously think he’s useless, but what’s your opinion of the Fishy looking character?
I knew that James Perch wasn’t capable of playing in the Premier League, and I was very surprised when Newcastle came in for him. For Forest, his best position was central midfield in a more holding role. I noticed he was playing more at right back at first for Newcastle, but 5 yellow cards in 5 games as well as an own goal shows he’s not performed at all. Although I like the guy from his Forest days, I wouldn’t have him back. He’s way out of his depth in the Premiership.
Given the choice, which Newcastle player would you want the most in your Forest team?
From what I’ve seen of him, Yohan Cabaye looks a good player. Uses the ball well and has a good shot on him, as we saw against Villa. He was catching the ball really sweetly. So from what I’ve seen of your squad so far, I’ll go for Cabaye.
Who should we be most wary of from your team?
I think the obvious one is Lewis McGugan if he plays. He’s an attacking midfield who has scored some fantastic goals in the last year or so. He’s capable of creating a piece of magic from nothing. He’s got a rocket shot so is dangerous from set pieces too, as he showed in Round 1 with a great free kick against Notts County. He also likes to run at people and has very tricky feet. He’ll definitely be a threat.
Other than that I’d say Ishmael Miller. He’s strong, quick and can really bother defenders. He’s proving to be a great signing, offering us bite up front which we’ve lacked. If he plays well, he can be a real handful.
Who do you feel will be the major threat to the Forest defence?
Newcastle possess some players who are good in the air. The likes of Best, Ba, Ameobi, Taylor and Coloccini are all threats in terms of heading the ball. Forest are notoriously bad at dealing with set pieces and crosses, so if you put our centre backs and goalie under pressure for long enough, chances are you’ll score a goal. If Hatem Ben Arfa makes a comeback from injury then he’ll definitely be a threat. He looks a good player and it’s a shame for you that he’s suffered with injuries.
What was your reaction to drawing Newcastle?
Very pleased. After beating lower league opposition in rounds 1 and 2, I was chuffed to get a Premiership side as well as a home draw. I remember the league game at the City Ground where we won 1-0 was a great contest and the atmosphere was really good. So hopefully even though its a cup game we get the same again.
What do you think the score will be?
I’d like us to cause a bit of an upset, because even if the league is the main thing, we’re in a position where we just need to win games to gain confidence, because it’s seemed to hit a new low. But I think Newcastle will be too strong for us. I’ll go for a 2-1 Newcastle win in normal time.
One of the most interesting things from that interview for me is that already James see’s Yohan Cabaye as a real talent and would like him in his Forest team. Yohan Cabaye has pleased a lot of Newcastle fans with his performances, but it’s also good to see that other clubs fans acknowledge his good performances.
He also thinks that Alan Pardew is a decent manager, and that he’s doing a job at the moment. I’m sure a lot of Newcastle fans will agree with him, but others will not, as he’s supposedly a “puppet” but then again, some are just never pleased.
Lewis McGugan is the main player that James pinpointed as a danger to the Newcastle defence, and I agree with him. McGugan is a player who we were linked with this summer, and I’d have liked us to sign him if we didn’t have such a wealth of midfield options. So, we should aim not to give any free kicks away which McGugan could test the keeper with.
It’s interesting to see that James who is a Nottingham Forest season ticket holder thinks that we will beat them 2-1 in normal time. It all depends on what side we play, but I’d expect the game to be very tight with it probably being won by 1 goal either way, so hopefully James is right.
I’d like to say thanks to James for taking time to complete an interview for me, and it’d be good if some of you could look at his Nottingham Forest blog which will have an interview similar to this about my views and other very well written articles.
You can also follow James on twitter @bolton0301.
Come on Newcastle!