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Monday, May 23, 2011

QPR Report Interview : The Nottingham Forest Perspective


Question and Answer with Vital Nottingham Forest's Guinless
http://www.forest.vitalfootball.co.uk. Very many thanks to for agreeing to do this Q&A.


Starting simply: How long have you supported Nottingham Forest? And how long have you been involved with the Vital Nottingham Forest Website?

I've been a Forest supporter for nearly 35 years and have been priveleged enough to have seen the unbelievable highs, as well as the unbearable lows during that time. I have been the editor of Vital Forest since 2007 and a member since 2006.

(How do you get on with the other Nottingham Forest fan sites: Are there any serious inter-Nottingham Forest Messageboard conflicts (as there certainly are between certain QPR boards!)?

Yes. Thay all hate Vital Forest.

Do Nottingham Forest have one (or two) special rivals? (Notts County and Derby County I'd imagine) If so, Is it a mild dislike or a visceral hatred? (and do supporters of those clubs feel the same way about Nottingham Forest)?

Notts County hate us much more than we hate them in my opinion. I look upon them as an annoying little brother. Leicester City would love us to consider them rivals, but they are little more than near neighbours, who happen to play in the same division. The real rivalry/hatred is reserved for the Mutton Molesters down the A52.

Forest v Derby is probably the first fixture fans of both clubs' look for when the lists come out each year and there's no love lost on either side of the divide. Forest supporters are currently lapping it up, having done the double over them this season. Games in recent times have become pretty feisty affairs, probably not helped by the fact that both managers, many of the players and even the coaching staff have had connections with both clubs in the past. "Hatred" might be too strong a word, but on the day of a game between Forest and Derby, you'd struggle to find one more apt.

What do you think of your current manager, Davies? What did you think of his various predecessors?

My opinion on Billy Davies, is that he's the best thing to happen to this club in the past 10 years. I'll be honest and say, I thought his appointment was wrong at the time it was made and never wanted him anywhere near our place. As things have turned out, he's been a breath of fresh air. His footballing style has been a revelation. Entertaining football, the way it should be played, has been served up in the main and he's turned both the clubs' fortunes and prospects around. When he took over from Colin Calderwood in 2008, we were taking the fast route back to League 1. He not only stopped the rot, he saved us from certain relegation, took us to the brink of the Prem in his first full season and is on course to do at least the same again this time round. Much like Warnock, he's brash, obnoxious, hated by the opposition and even by a section of his own clubs' supporters. I love the guy! When you consider some of the dross before him (Megson and Platt), Billy Davies is a football genius.

What do you think of the current Owners and Board? WHY are they involved with Nottingham Forest? What do you expect? Could they realistically have done more to boost your promotion effort?

A delicate subject amongst Forest fans this, because opinion on our Chairman, owner and lifelong Forest fan Nigel Doughty, (whose Son is on the books at QPR) is split. He's been in charge for 11 years and whilst it can't be argued that he has single handedly kept us afloat, he is responsible for the decline into League 1 and some of the most Godawful and disastrous managerial appointments the world of football has ever seen. He does bankroll the club, pays the wages and pays for transfers out of his own pocket, but has he done enough? My opinion is that he has not, but like I say, you can argue for ever and a day on this subject and never get a happy outcome. Nigel Doughty has undoubtedly done much good for NFFC, but it's a mute point as to whether the harm has outweighed the good over the years.

Are you a little surprised with how Nottingham Forest are doing this season? In your heart of hearts, did you really expect promotion this season? Do you expect to improve? Or are you just grateful to be in existence?

Last season was the real surprise from my point of view. Whilst we made some good additions to the squad over that summer, I only expected a mid table finish and would have viewed that as good progress. We were 2nd behind the Geordies before Christmas, but failure to add to a very small squad in the January, meant we ran out of gas and couldn't finish. We were deservedly beaten by Blackpool in the Playoff semis and the thoughts were that we would strengthen over this past summer and have a real go this year. With the exception of Ryan Bertrand on loan from Chelsea for 6 months, we didn't really strengthen at all. We had a slow start, but have generally done well due to some very impressive results at home. We now look to have arrested the away form that was hampering us and after a couple of signings (Tudgay and Konchesky), have gathered some real momentum now. I still think we need just a couple of extra bodies, but it has to be said that we actually look in better shape than we did this time last year.

Who are you Dangermen/Most valued/most overrated/most underrated players? (Lee Camp/Dexter Blackstock Injured) Earnshaw

Lee Camp has been one of the best signings made by us in recent years and IMO, the best keeper in the Championship at present. He's consistently good and rarely makes a mistake ( I hope that isn't the kiss of death for Sunday). I must admit to being gobsmacked when you let Dex go, but I understand that boardroom rifts may have had something to do with that? Needless to say, we're glad to have him, but it's such a shame he's out for the season. He will be missed. Marcus Tudgay has filled his boots well and for £400,000, he could prove a real bargain. Everyone knows about Earnshaw and after a slow start to the season, looks to be back to his goalscoring best. He's often given a rest by the manager in away games, so it's debatable whether he'll start. One player missing for us on Sunday will be Frenchman Guy Moussi. He's also out for the foreseable future and has been immense for us this year in midfield, up until getting injured last week. His form was instrumental in our success so far. Predicting Billy Davies' team selections is difficult at the best of times and this week will be no different. If he plays, keep an eye on our young Polish midfielder Radoslaw Majewski. He stands at 5ft and a fag paket, but is as tough as old boots and also has an abundance of skill.

Your Prediction for season promotion/relegation places - And how would that compare with pre-season prediction?

I'm useless at predictions and thought Pompey would have done better. I thought Hull would struggle, but they look to be sorting themselves out and are now my outside bet for promotion. Norwich have been the surprise package for me and I think they'll be there or there abouts. Leicester are making a go of it now and could creep up. Come the final run in, I think it will be any from QPR, Forest, Swansea and Cardiff. I'm really hoping Cardiff screw up big time, simply because I consider them cheats.

As for the drop. To me, it looks pretty much sorted already. As much as I'd like Derby to be in the mix, I think they'll survive.

What is your view and the general reading view of QPR (If we even feature in your consciousness)? Over the years: Quite a number of shared players including of course Lee Camp, Blackstock, Quashie, Bowles, Hodge, Cullip, Needham, Woods, etc.

Richest club outside the Premiership apparently, but you've never appeared to spend like it. However, you do seem to be buying/loaning well under the guidance of Warnock. Although I don't think the Championship is as strong as it was last year and it's anyone's to win, I do think the two strongest teams (on the evidence I've seen) are the two in the top spots right now. I watched your game with Reading last week and whilst it wasn't a classic, you showed the sort of grit and character, that is required to last the pace.

There have been a few player exchanges over the years. Needham did well. Bowles was a legend for you guys, but had seen his best by the time we got to see him in a Red shirt. Cullip, whilst not particularly good, was the type of player we needed at the time. You must have pissed yourselves laughing when we took Gino Padula off your hands. We've had our fair share of dog shit over the years and he's right up there with the best on that front. As for Hodge, he was a bit of class for us.

It would be easy to pick Stan Bowles as a fav player, but I always thought Gerry Francis was an excellent midfielder and would have done well with us under Cloughie.

What are your past Encounter Memories - Best Memory/Worst Memory of Past Forest-QPR Encounters? Who is your favourite QPR Player over the years? (And your least favourite)? Ditto any view of Neil Warnock?

Best memories are Camp at the City Ground when he went back to you after being here on loan. I'm sure he deliberately had a stinker that day and some would say was even our 12th man. I was at Loftus Road the day we were relegated to L1 and have to say it was one of the sorriest days of my Forest supporting life. We were absolute dog shit and that game was a perfect example of life under Megson. Painful to watch and still painful to think about.

As for Sunday. My main worry is Adel Taarabt. If we can keep him quiet, then I think we'll control the game. It will also be worth keeping an eye on the touchline, because there's no better pair of characters in the game to make sure everyone's on their toes. that could prove as entertaining as the game itself.

Are you happy with how your club treats the fans? Do you think your ticket prices are fair? What other clubs in the Championship (or elsewhere) do you admire/wish Nottingham Foest could emulate? Bottom line: Do those running Nottingham Forest make you proud?

I suppose we get treated much the same as any club treats their fans, which is cough up and shut up from Forest. We pay £27 for a match day ticket, which is pretty expensive in my book to watch football. The stewards at the City Ground are amongst the most over zealous in the land and not just with away fans. NFFC could do a helluva lot more to improve relations with fans, but I dare say the same could be said for many clubs. I can't say there is another club I admire for the way they treat the fans, but the lower down the football ladder you go it does seem to improve. That maybe down to the fact they need your money so much more.

Are you looking forward to playing QPR?

Can't wait for this one to be honest. For some reason, I expect it to be better than the dullfest served up at our place, when we both showed each other too much respect. We're all feeling very confident, as we all should given the position we're both in.

SCORE PREDICTION for QPR-Nottingham Forest?

You wont like this. QPR 1-3 Forest.

Where, realistically, do you think Nottingham Forest will be in five years time?

Impossible to say. I'd like to think we're holding our own in the Prem.

Do you have any advice for QPR fans, in the event that we do go up? (Spend more/spend less; keep the manager; change the manager, etc)

I could ask you the same question. It's been such a long time since we were there and it's changed an awful lot. Love him or loathe him, I'd percevere with Warnock. He has the experience and knows what it takes to survive in that league. The one advantage you do have, is that you will have to spend and if you get there, it's the last of your worries. Isn't it?]

*Very Many thanks to Vital Nottingham Forest's Guinless.

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