Tottenham’s poor start to the season has resulted in Mauricio Pochettino losing his job. It was not long ago that Pochettino was one of the most admired and sought after managers in the business, yet now he has been sacked by Spurs despite being heavily linked with the Real Madrid managers’ position in the summer – following his success in guiding The Lilywhites to the Champions League Final. His achievements speak for themselves; when he took over Spurs were a Top 4 outsider, he turned them into the closest challengers to Liverpool, Man City and Leicester for the premiership title. All whilst developing young players and playing attractive attacking football. It comes as no surprise to me that he is already being linked with another top job as Bayern Munich are reportedly interested as are Real Madrid once more.
What went wrong?
Tottenham’s success was considered more remarkable due to the fact Lucas was their only signing over 2 transfer windows. But this created a togetherness and team spirit which were key elements in reaching the illusive Champions League final. This summer this changed with money being spent on new players, existing players linked with moves away and Pochettino himself linked with other clubs. Bringing players in with the aim of building on what he had already done was what it seemed Spurs needed. But with players like Christian Eriksen and Toby Alderweireld seemingly seeking moves away it all added up to less cohesion and team spirit than beforehand.
Tottenham became one of my favourite sides to watch under his management and I fear this could change under the new man in control. José Mourinho is renowned for defensive football or “parking the bus” as it has been referred to as and this is the complete opposite of Pochettino. He likes 2 defensive midfielders whose prime focus is to protect the back 4; this could result in Eric Dier being brought back into the team in place of Harry Winks – despite his recent success in the International break for England. His wide players in a 4-2-3-1/4-3-3 formation need to track back which for me casts further doubts on Eriksen’s future at the club. However one thing that Mourinho always seems to do is win trophies and that is the one thing Spurs under Poch didn’t do, so the question is whilst they might not be as entertaining or attacking if they win a trophy will this be forgiven?
Do you think Mourinho is a good replacement for Pochettino?
Nottingham Forest made it 3 consecutive east-midlands derby wins for the first time since 1990, by beating the Rams 1-0 at the City Ground. The win also means it is 8 consecutive visits and 7 years since Derby’s last win in Nottingham and keeps Forest in the Top 6 whilst Derby stay in the bottom half of the league table.
The goal came following a mistake by Derby right back Jaden Bogle, when a loose pass across his defensive line went straight to Grabban who smartly finished first time into the bottom corner. Grabban spoke about the goal:
“I had a little glance at where the keeper was and it looked like he hadn’t covered the near post so I just tried to aim for that and fortunately it went in.” He added: “The main thing was that we got the win. It was good for the fans, so I’m very happy. Their support gives us that little bit of a boost.”
In scoring, Grabban upped his tally for the season to seven, meaning he has now scored 80 times in the EFL since the start of the 2013-14 campaign, four more than any other player.
The match started evenly amid a raucous atmosphere at The City Ground and it was Forest keeper Brice Samba who was the first keeper called into action, doing well to keep out Tom Lawrence’s shot from inside the penalty area following a good run by Bogle. Lawrence was unsurprisingly constantly jeered by the home faithful following the drink driving scandal, however, he was probably Derby’s main threat and handled the reception well. That was until a second-half challenge on Yuri Ribeiro which he saw yellow.
It was extremely competitive, with both sides fighting for the ball and putting in committed challenges. Bogle and Ben Watson were both shown yellow cards for fouls on halfway, whilst Ryan Yates was somewhat fortunate not to be added to the list of booking’s following a challenge on Clarke, who had to be replaced.
Forest were effective in pressing the Derby backline and won the ball high up the pitch a few times, possibly leading to the goal. Forest’s best efforts in the first half both came from winger Sammy Ameobi who shot twice from the left-hand corner of the penalty area to force Derby Keeper Roos into decent saves.
The second half started with The Reds firmly in the ascendancy, applying plenty of pressure on the Derby goal. Several crosses were fizzed into the area, with only glancing headers from a Derby defender keeping the ball away from danger. It was just before the hour-mark when Derby were their own worst enemy in making the costly mistake which gave Forest the lead.
Forest sensed they could put the game beyond doubt as Derby were on the ropes following the mistake, but couldn’t find the second goal. Derby came back into the game towards the end and the closest they came to an equaliser was when Jack Marriott had a sniff of goal, but The Reds defended resolutely to hold onto their one-goal lead and claim a brilliant victory against their arch-rivals.
Man of the match
Tiago Silva – The Portuguese midfielder put in an outstanding performance, he had great energy, tenacity and put in some great tackles. Along with that, he showed his skill with some lovely touches to beat opposition players. When Silva was signed from Benfica in the summer many forest fans assumer he would an alternative to fellow Portuguese playmaker João Carvalho, however, he has shown he is a more all-round midfielder than João.
Forest head coach Sabri Lamouchi was delighted to claim victory in his second East Midlands derby of the season. Lamouchi was satisfied with his side’s second-half display which he believed was a marked improvement on the first 45 minutes. Speaking after the game, he said:
“It was a difficult, emotional game and maybe that is why we found it difficult in the first half. The second half was much better and fortunately, they made a mistake at the back and Grabbs produced another fantastic finish like the killer that he is. It was important for us to be compact, patient and focused and in the end, I think we deserved the victory because in the second half we went out for the three points. After the goal, I put more attacking players on the field to try and get that second goal but it wasn’t meant to be. It has been a good day, the perfect way to spend my birthday, and I am happy that our supporters could enjoy it too. When we play with this sort of attitude and character then we can always win games like this. We know we can still play better and control the ball better but it is important that we take three points when we don’t play at our best. It is a fantastic result and I’m happy because we’ve made our fans proud of the players. Now we can go into the international break with a positive mentality before we come back to play Bristol City.”
It doesn’t get any bigger than this for Nottingham Forest and Derby, in particular, the Fans, they look forward to it from the moment the fixtures are announced in pre-season.
No other match brings the anticipation, excitement, and nerves that this one does. A win will last long in the memory whilst a defeat will haunt you, it’s quite simply the biggest match of the season.
The sides have already met at the City Ground this season, just over 2 months ago Forest ran out comfortable 3-0 winners.
How ever satisfying that night was, this will mean so much more as that night was almost 2 second-string sides.
Forest will more than likely still be without key trio Michael Dawson, Samba Sow and Alfa Semedo. The trio’s absence played a massive role in the recent defeats to Wigan and Hull City, Dawson was said to back in training this week, however a place in the team remains unlikely.
The return of Ryan Yates in midfield helped fill the void left by Sow and Semedo in last weekend’s win over Luton.
I would largely stick with that line up with only Jack Robinson coming in to provide extra defensive nous at left back for Yuri Ribeiro.
Tom Lawrence, who has endured a challenging couple of months after being convicted of drink-driving, netted two goals in Saturday’s Pride Park win over Middlesbrough, a fourth straight home success. He is a key man for Derby, but in my opinion he shouldn’t be available for selection following the drink-driving incident, which also involved teammate Mason Bennett and saw Captain Richard Keogh injured for the season and subsequently suspended by the club.
The Professional Footballers’ Association has said it will “robustly defend” Richard Keogh after his dismissal, the BBC has reported.
Lawrence and Bennett were both fined six weeks’ wages by the Rams and pleaded guilty to drink driving. “We will robustly defend our member because we feel he has been unfairly treated,” said a PFA spokesman.
Keogh, 33, suffered a knee injury in the crash on 24 September and will be out for around 15 months. His contract was due to expire in 2021.
It is understood Derby offered Keogh a revised deal on reduced wages. The player will appeal against Derby’s decision and the PFA have told him they will back him in that and any subsequent challenge to his dismissal because they do not view the treatment of Keogh as being in line with the action taken against Lawrence and Bennett.
In announcing Keogh’s dismissal, Derby said they would not comment further until the outcome of any appeal was known.
In any other professionalism if you are convicted of a serious crime your job would be at risk. The fact that Lawrence is a professional footballer, who is in the public eye and gets to play is sending out the wrong message.
Lawrence is set for unpleasant reception on Saturday but says Derby will be ready for the cauldron atmosphere awaiting them at – and is plotting to silence a sold-out City Ground.
“We all know how big this game is coming on Saturday so we will be ready for it.
“Yes, as expected,” the 25-year-old then said when asked about the vibrant Trentside atmosphere, saying his teammates know what’s needed to record a rare win in Nottingham.
The Rams are looking to claim a first win on Trentside since September 2012, and in the process dent Forest’s promotion hopes.
Forest got back to winning ways last weekend with a 2-1 success away at Luton, this was a vital victory following 2 successive defeats at Wigan and Home to Hull City as the last thing Forest would have wanted would have been to go into the Derby game on the back of three successive defeats.
Although, Forest defender Joe Worrall says, “On track? We were never off it” previous to these defeats Forest hadn’t lost in the league since the opening day of the season and they sit 5th in the table (with a game in hand due to the match against reading being postponed) and have an opportunity to close the gap on league leaders, West Bromwich Albion who are five points in front.
Derby are 10 places below, but only four points behind Forest.
Their home form has kept them in touch with the top six, however, on the road, things have been marked different for the Rams who haven’t tasted victory since the opening night at Huddersfield.
It is sure to be a heated encounter, as ever. A strong referee that won’t fall for any nonsense will be required, there will be some strong challenges and players trying to deceive the referee and it is vital he doesn’t lose control.
He can’t produce unnecessary cards or let players get away with anything early on.
Darren England will be the man in the middle for the match, he has officiated two Forest matches already this season, with the Reds suffering defeats on both occasions.
The pre-match build-up will be added to as Forest will pay tribute to all those who lost their lives in conflict ahead of the match at the City Ground.
Before kick-off, there will be a performance of the Last Post from the Military band, while both sets of players will be sporting the poppy on the front of their shirts for the game itself.
The Champions league continued to entertain on Tuesday night with an eight goal thriller, a comeback and some smaller clubs proving hard nuts to crack.
There is only one place to start, and that is Stamford Bridge where Chelsea hosted last year’s semi-finalists, Ajax. Chelsea won the corresponding fixture two weeks ago in Amsterdam meaning the two teams were level at the top of the group and a win for either side would mean they were in control of their own destiny with regards to qualification.
The match started as it would carry on with 2 goals in the opening 4 minutes. Ajax got the first when they won a free-kick and Quincy Promes’ quality delivery caught Tammy Abraham napping as he diverted the cross into his own net. Chelsea’s response was immediate with Christian Pulisic bursting into the box and drawing a late challenge from Veltman which allowed Jorginho the chance to score from the spot, and he didn’t pass up the opportunity.
The game continued to flow entertainingly with Hakim Ziyech providing the quality to take the game away from the hosts. It was his magnificent cross from the right that caught out Azpilicueta and allowed Promes to dart in and finish from close range to make it 2-1.
Ziyech’s left boot did further damage just before the break as Ajax extended their advantage, although there was a touch of luck about the goal. His delivery from near the corner flag caught out Chelsea keeper, Kepa Arrizabalaga, and the ball bounced back off the post and into the net via the unfortunate goalkeeper’s face.
Things got worse for the Blues when Ziyech found Van de Beek in the area and the classy midfielder found the bottom corner with a clever finish to make it 4-1 and seemingly put the game beyond Chelsea.
Tammy Abraham made up for his error by getting one back before the match entered a crazy period which swung it towards Chelsea.
Daley Blind was shown a second yellow card for fouling Abraham, the referee had played advantage before showing the red card, in the pursuing advantage Veltman was judged to have handballed a Callum Hudson-Odoi’s shot and a penalty was awarded.
To make matters worse for Ajax, Veltman had already been booked and was shown a red. Jorginho rolled in his second penalty of the night and suddenly Chelsea went from being 4-1 down to 8 minutes later being just one goal behind and playing against 9 men for the last 20 minutes.
It was not long before they levelled the match as Reece James hammered home from a corner and Chelsea would have backed themselves to win the match
Azpilicueta thought he had done just that but VAR dampened the celebrations by spotting a handball from Abraham in the build-up.
A crazy night at Stamford Bridge, that had everything ends as a 4-4 draw and the other result in the group, a 4-1 win for Valencia over Lille, means 3 teams are tied on 7 points.
Another dramatic match was played out in Dortmund as Borussia Dortmund played Inter Milan.
Barcelona had dropped points earlier in the day by only drawing at home to Slavia Prague meaning the winner of this one would close the gap on Barca to a single point.
Inter Milan controlled the first half and were 2-0 up at half-time thanks to goals from Lautaro Martínez and Matías Vecino.
This however was to be a story of two halfs, Dortmund came out like a completely different team after the break and 6 minutes into it had got one back through Achraf Hakimi, who incredibly had scored all of Dortmund’s goals in the campaign.
Paco Alcácer came on after 64 minutes and with his first touch set up Julian Brandt whose right footed shot from the left side of the box equalised for Dortmund.
They continued to push and Jadon Sancho played a delightful through ball to that man again, Achraf Hakim and the right-back scored yet again to complete the turnaround.
Qualification from this group is still wide open with 2 matchdays remaining with 4 points separating Barca in 1st and Inter in 3rd with Barca still to play both Dortmund and Inter.
Elsewhere, Liverpool were given a scare at home to Genk but overcame it to go top of Group E after Napoli were held by Red Bull Salzburg.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain scored in a second consecutive Champions League game as Liverpool won 2-1 but they were made to work for their victory.
Oxlade-Chamberlain scored another superb goal in the Champions League to ultimately seal a vital three points for the holders.
However, it was far from a walk in Stanley Park, with a thunderous Mbwana Samatta header leveling things up in the first half after an instinctive finish from Georginio Wijnaldum for Liverpool’s 14th-minute opener.
Genk could well have left Anfield with a point, but Liverpool had Alisson Becker to thank for some wonderful late saves.
My Initial reaction as a fan to Saturday’s match being postponed due to a waterlogged pitch was one of annoyance.
Forest are in need of a win to put the disappointment of 2 successive defeats behind them and move back into the top 6.
On reflection, the safety of the players is of paramount importance and cannot be risked and as the pictures below show, the correct decision was made. The rearranged fixture has yet to be arranged.
One thing that Forest did to make the most of a bad situation was to donate 3,000 food parcels to the homeless. Instead of letting the pies, pasties and sandwiches go to waste; the club decided to give it to Framework; a homeless charity based in Nottingham, this is the second time it has happened.
Fans praised the move, with one saying, “I love what this club has become – it’s every bit as important as what happens on the pitch as far as I’m concerned.” Another added: “Well done all at NFFC! A kind gesture that puts a bit of faith back into Human kindness.”
I have to go along with these comments and “Why are more clubs not doing this? It makes perfect sense. The food would’ve been wasted otherwise as Forest don’t have another home match scheduled until the 9th of November (2 weeks from original matchday).
Nottingham’s homelessness is a big problem and gestures such as these go some way to helping.
Back on the pitch, the postponement has meant that Forest’s injured party have longer to recover before a match is played. Michael Dawson, Samba Sow and Alfa Semedo are all on the injury list and their absence has played a massive influence on the two defeats.
In both matches, they have been outmuscled in midfield, which is the problem that Sow and Semedo were brought to the club in the summer to solve. They have also missed Dawson’s leadership at the back having conceded many more chances and goals since his injury.