Preview - Nottingham Forest v Norwich

Norwich go to Forest on good form, so Jon Rogers speaks to David Marples about all things Forest, Taylor Swift, horrific haircuts and lumps.  Big ones.

Jon: So Nottingham Forest, personally seem like the most romantic and unfulfilled club to me, more so than Leeds, or Derby. Maybe it was Cloughy, I don't know - but will you ever get out of the league?

David: The Premier League and Nottingham Forest are a bit like the Taylor Swift song: ‘We Are Never Ever, Ever Getting Back Together’. Ever. It’s been a bajillion year since we unceremoniously slid out of the Premier League’s DMs. She won’t even give us a follow now – all we get is a patronising ‘like’ once-in-a-while when we lose against Woking in some lower league cup competition and battered with the stick labeled, ‘look and laugh how the once double European Champions have fallen’. It’s rather a large stick. And it really hurts.

Sure, we’ve come close to a ‘follow’ but if we can avoid talk of the play-offs, that’d be preferable. Us and your bessies, Ipswich – we ARE the Championship. We’ve been here for so long now that we’ve re-arranged the furniture and brought in Martin from Frasier’s comfy chair and plonked it in front of the telly. Sometimes, we threaten to take our battered old chair downstairs and watch telly from the cellar. We did that once, you know – stayed in the cellar for three years. Don’t make us do that again....anything but that.

Jon: Well someone needs to keep those boys in blue company, you pair of losers, you. How’s the beginning of our 95th consecutive season in tier two been so far?

David: Oddly, alright actually, thanks for asking. Away from home, we are shakier than Shakin’ Stevens on a Shake Machine enjoying a big old milkshake. But at home, wowzers – go get your party poppers because we are FUN. A couple of 4-3 thrillers and three goals past everyone’s least favourite fellow ownership crisis club Leeds United has made the City Ground a living embodiment of Russ Abbott’s 80s classic. We love a party with a happy atmosphere.

Of course, this was before we went and sold Oliver Burke without a sell-on clause and before Britt Ass clambered on the treatment table. In short though, with a new manager, the departure of stacks of loan signings and the arrival of stacks of cheap, imported knock-offs, it’s all going a little bit better than we dared to imagine.

Jon: Lansbury seems to get better with every shit haircut?  Like some sort of fashionable Samson?

David: Yeah. Henri Lansbury: discuss. As frustrating as he is talented, that boy. One day, mark my words now, one day, he might just pick up this old league and tear it in two with his bare hands. Just when you think it’s time to cash in on Henri and sell him to Burnley, he hits form and reminds you why he was so coveted as a younger man. Standard behaviour after such a purple patch is to then be offered a lucrative new contract and then go and get injured. Repeat.

In a withdrawn midfield role, he can look very ordinary while he goes about his business of taking out his frustrations on anyone in an opposition shirt by booting them up into the air. In a more advanced role, he can look utterly delightful.

Either way, he’ll annoy the bejeezus out of you with his yapping at the referee and whatever hairstyle he happens to be sporting this week. That’s his essence.

Jon:  Let’s talk about the elephant in the room.  Britt Ass. What are his worst attributes so we can feel better for failing to buy him in the window?

David: Injuries. Apart from that, he is the business. He returned from long-term injury at the end of last season and his goal in the last game of the season was arguably the highpoint (yeah – that bad). He started this season banging in goals too until he pulled a hamstring after, er, banging in a goal. He doesn’t tackle back, he can’t head the ball particularly well and he doesn’t really link play. But give him a ball around the area and chances are you’ll be fishing it out of the net. Now go away and swipe left or something.

Jon : I was watching the Villa game and I was just saying what a lump Apostolos Vellio was until he pelted it into the top corner from 85 yards. What your thoughts of him so far?

David: Just when we had him earmarked to be the latest in a long line of lumbering immobile forwards, he goes and does that. That’s pretty much all he has done so far.

Jon: Who are you scared of in the Norwich team?

David: Howson is a tidy player and Wes Hoolahan always has a good game against us. Never been impressed by Cameron Jerome but no doubt he’ll score a scruffy header. Naturally, stick your money on Oliveira for a muted celebration when he sticks one in from 20 yards.

Jon: We’ve yet to see him. He’s been hidden away for the unwritten law of scoring against his old club. Who is the unsung hero?

David: Ben Osborn. Little and cuddly but stationed out on the wing when he’s really a creative midfielder. He has a beautiful touch but sometimes looks ineffective as he’s expected to burst past opposition full backs when that’s not really his game.

Ready for a weird one? Michael Mancienne. Underrated by lots of people, including many Forest fans.

Jon: Yeah! I’ve liked him since his Chelsea days. Good call. So, score Prediction?

David: There will be goals. Lots of them but not sure in which end.

David co-produces the brand new Nottingham Forest quarterly magazine Bandy&Shinty and also writes for the official match day programme. He tweets at @DavidMarples