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Things Are On The Up
By: Todd Bontoft
Despite what seems on paper only one measly point out of six, things are certainly on the up as far as the team's performances are concerned and, moreover, the club's prospects as a whole.
After decades of clutching at any straw lying about and proclaiming it's summer after the first sighting of a swallow, I have thought long and hard about making this proclamation.
An idle glance at the POM table will demonstrate that predictions are not my speciality, but in mitigation this is not helped by a pathological requirement never to forecast a defeat. But I am more confident than ever that we will avoid the drop and the future is becoming rosier.
On the playing side the difference for me is the style and the manner of the recent performances. The team has a menacing and threatening posture when attacking - if not the killer punch, clear resilience in midfield and the defence is looking more solid and assured. Unlucky against Bolton only to get a draw - not many of us would have thought that, unlucky to come away from Forest with nothing - beaten by early injuries that affected the side's effectiveness and performance and a fatal two-goal blitz.
Any point at all away from home has nearly always in recent times been gained by holding out against all the odds. This usually means employing what seems like an eleven-man defence, with a desperate attempt to kick the ball into the nearest stand on every occasion. These last two games, for long spells, the mariners have held their own, often playing flowing creative football and doing this against two of the division's better sides. Bolton is currently second in the table and Forest is hot on the heels of a play-off spot.
Away from the playing side some passing comments on the reportedly scandalous behaviour of 'stewarding' at Nottingham Forest's City Ground are appropriate. Smoke without fire is very unusual and such alleged incidents and the reports that follow them are far from helpful and conducive in attempts by clubs to turn the sport we love into a family attraction.
I am now extremely glad I did not take my wife and three children to the game as had been planned. As a family - excluding Wembley - we have never attended an away match, as despite considerable improvements to crowd safety and an apparent drop in violence I have never considered it responsible to risk their well being. This was to be our first true football family outing to an away game. I considered Nottingham Forest the club and its supporters friendly and welcoming. I have not changed this view but such unpleasant reports have certainly put plans for my family to attend an away game on the back burner for at least another season.
Whatever the incident(s) I remain sceptical that a thorough and detailed enquiry will be undertaken and that something will be learned. Let's hope officials at Nottingham Forest and the local police prove me wrong. The Fishy has never condoned violence and has regularly called for tolerance and understanding. This will continue to be the case but let us not forget the same rules equally apply to those given authority over others. But back to the playing side that should be the only real talking point, unfortunately, this seems likely to remain a utopian dream.
Provided the recent injection of confidence - evidenced by the players' body language - does not wane then hopefully the clichÃ© 'luck will balance itself out' will hold true. But it remains incredibly tight with only seven points separating 13th placed Gillingham on 39 points from 22nd placed Sheffield Wednesday, who currently occupy the last relegation spot, on 32 points. From the teams between 13th and 24th it would be a brave person to perm the final three sides to go down from these twelve. The plus for Grimsby Town is the run-in has more home games than away and back at clichÃ© corner 'it's in our own hands'. I calculate nine home games and five away! But the bad news is the play-offs are definitely out! Ha Ha!
Talking of news, exactly when is still not yet known, but soon we will hear the outcome of the Secretary of State's deliberations on the new stadium. Should the news be positive - and the precedent elsewhere suggests this will be the case - then this will be a significant fillip for everyone involved with the club. The whole atmosphere around the place will shift towards a new hopefully brighter future. Much uncertainty will be removed and everyone will know in which direction we will be heading.
Lennie Lawrence is already making interesting noises about long-term plans and his rebuilding work this summer. This season's retained list is sure to be the subject of much speculation in the forthcoming months and many debates following its eventual announcement. Add into this the ingredients of Campbell and Willems likely to become permanent members of the crew, possibly some more new faces in the close season and the playing side will certainly be taking shape.
I trust that at the top of Lennie's more immediate list will be signing a new striker! He has been actively pursuing 'hot signings' in this department for weeks! There must be an announcement soon, surely?
So, all in all, while muttering away under our breath and licking our wounds in the darker moments following a weekend's defeat, let's not forget, it's not all doom and gloom.
Just remember things really are on the up!
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