Q – How long have you been following Forest and what was your first game?
30-odd years. My Mum, Granddad & Great Uncle took me to the Forest v Villa FA Cup game in January 1979. I stood on an upturned beer crate at the front of the Bridgford End. I was 5 and hooked on the Reds.
Q – What are your most memorable moments as a Forest fan? Good and Bad.
The first season back in the Premier League under Frank Clark was magic – we played some cracking football and finished third. Taking 6 points off Derby in a league season (thank you BD & Robert Earnshaw), the 5-2 win at home was electric. The 8-1 home defeat by Man United was awful, especially because my in-laws are all United fans. In truth we were outclassed that day – but it is worth remembering we had a perfectly good goal ruled out to go 2-1 up.
Q – Since you have been following Forest , what would your best starting eleven be? And who is your all time favourite player?
Favourite player: Stuart Pearce by a mile & he`d captain the following team:
Shilton, Anderson, Walker, Burns, Pearce, Stone, Keane, Webb, Robertson, Collymore, Francis.
Q – In your opinion, what is the best goal you have seen Forest score?
McGugan`s rocket versus Ipswich season before last takes some beating.
Q – Best and worst away ground visited?
Best in the UK is Bolton `s Reebok Stadium – it`s certainly the best ‘new` ground as it seems to hold the noise. I also like Upton Park & The Hawthorns of the older grounds for the same reason – they come alive when the crowd is jumping. The worst away grounds I`ve been to were both home to Doncaster Rovers: Belle Vue was given a license even after the former owner had set fire to it (in a failed insurance fraud) and the Keepmoat is a glorious example of new stadium being built for a price (i.e. the loos in the away end, the gents had loads of space with just 1 hand basin and 1 cubicle and very long queue). Also the journey back after full time was awful – took ages to get back to the M18.
Q- Which player(s) would you like to see us sign this summer (realistically)?
Q – All seater stadia. Good thing, or a bad thing?
Both good and bad. All seater stands are safer, more inclusive, family friendly. Terracing is much better for atmosphere.
Q – What are your thoughts on how Forest did last season and how did it compare to your expectations?
I reckon, at the start of last season, we all expected to be around the play off positions come Easter. I am not part of the ‘Bring Billy Back` brigade – whilst the home form was impressive some of the away performances were very poor and the team set ups were tactically and technically inept (no pace, no width with wingers and quick strikers on the bench?!). Arguably BD talked his way into garden leave. Steve McClaren was probably a step up in class. A poor pre-season and poor signings didn`t help. SMc also had the valid excuse of losing key players to long injuries (Cohen`s injury versus Derby seemed to knock the team despite having an extra man). There was so much bile, frustration & bad feeling aired during the Birmingham game that change was inevitable. Steve Cotterill inherited a squad with problems (Captain Chambers in poor form, Camp in a permanent mood, Miller not wanting to be here, Big holes in the squad due to injuries & suspensions). By the turn of the year escaping the threat of relegation was the only target. We sold Wes & Pat Bamford to fund loans to fill the gaps, performances improved and ultimately championship status assured with a couple of games to go. Ultimately the season was disappointing and many in the squad should feel they could`ve done a whole lot better. However, would we have stayed up if Pompey hadn`t had the point deduction? It would`ve put a very spin on the closing fixtures.
Q – What are your expectations for next season in the Championship/Where will we finish?
It`s too early to say, but it`s not looking good. The club quickly needs a plan to secure a fourth bottom finish – especially if we don`t find a buyer for the club. Work out which players are to be sold & plan where to spend the money. Decide whether we`ll accept a loss on Miller & Co in order to re-invest some of the wages. If Steve Cotterill thought he had holes in his squad before, blimey he`s got ’em now. A number of the out of contract players will need to go to clear wages. McCleary had a very strong second half of the season and we couldn`t compete on wages – it would have been nice to get a fee for him, but even in December 2011 few supporters would`ve offered him a new contract.
Q – With the introduction of Financial Fair Play coming soon, do you think NFFC should spend their way to promotion, or adopt a more frugal approach in trying to achieve it?
Forest should look to off-load the non-contributing high earners who don`t want to be here (Miller, Derbyshire) and re-balance the squad. In comparison to other teams, we carry a lot of higher earning players. We need to sign a few experienced players, preferably on frees, then use them to blood nippers sparingly over the course of a few seasons. The club also need to review contracts much earlier as trading will become a vital source of income over the next few years (especially if we don`t find a buyer). Norwich , Swansea & Southampton would be a better blueprint than Leicester/QPR.
Q – Name a former Forest player you were most disappointed to see sign for another club?
John Robertson signing for Derby , Lars Bohinen signing for Derby , Kris Commons signing for Derby , Nathan Tyson signing for Derby . Matt Forestshire signing for Derby (hang on, my medication`s wearing off).
Q – What’s your opinion on Steve Cotterill and will he bring success to the club?
Billy Davies said that managing Forest was like managing with one hand tied behind his back If that`s the case for BD, then Steve Cotterill has had both arms tied behind his back, feet bound together, placed in a large hessian sack with a couple of lead weights, thrown off Trent end bridge and then asked to swim. SC hasn`t always helped himself. There are times he`s appeared to manage a bit like ‘a rabbit in headlights` (i.e. comments like ‘if we`d kept a clean sheet we`d have got a point` paint a stark picture of someone under real pressure). Bringing in SO`D appeared to pay big dividends quickly – Stuart Gray has big boots to fill. That being said, SC has been credited with improving some players confidence and performances did improve in the later months of the season. All his loan signings worked. Will SC be able to trade and make necessary changes to the squad? His level of success may depend on whether he`s forced to play Cohen & Mouse in defence.
Q – New stadium, or renovate the City Ground?
Renovate the City Ground – we have one of the best stadiums in the country, the club should make it shine. We should also make more use of it – rock concerts, boxing etc.
Q – If you could give one piece of advice to the eventual new owners of NFFC, what would it be?
Not just one, but three: Try not to take your fans for granted; Try not to let good players leave for free; Try to ensure the board, management, players and fans all sing from the same sheet to pull the club in the same direction.
Q – Where do you sit/stand at the City Ground?
Middle of Brian Clough Upper. Have sat in almost every part of the Ground & BCU is best.
Q – Name the celebrity you would most like to meet.
I would most like to ‘meet` Scarlett Johansson. She`s a very sexy woman? and with lips like that I could stick her to my window and she`d still be there a week later. Failing that, Holly Willoughbooby because The Voice would have to be shown after the watershed if it were broadcast in 3D.
Many thanks to Nigel for taking the time out to answer the questions. If you would like to take part in the Vital Forest Fan Interviews, then you can find a copy of the questions here. Just email your answers to email@example.com and we will publish them on the front page.
The Vital Forest Fan Interview: Sidthelemming
Q – How long have you been following Forest and what was your first game?