A big week for the Rams…decisions, decisions
It is fair to say that despite an okay league placing and some great results this season, there is ,as usual, plenty of criticism of Clough at present. Mainly due to the 20,000+ home fans not seeing too much to be optimistic about so far. This week won’t affect the season too much but its massive in terms of the general mood and goodwill towards Clough – Forest away next Saturday and geographically close non-rivals Leicester in the Cup on Tuesday. Can Clough afford to rest players for Tuesday? What would we think if we won after 120 minutes in the Cup only to be trounced by the Red Dogs?
Its an unenviable situation for Clough – we’re playing two top six teams away from home in the space of a few days. If we were playing, for example, QPR and Watford, expectations would be realistic i.e. low. The problem is we’re playing two teams who we really do not like to lose against (not that you like losing to anyone!)
In my eyes, Clough had three options for the Leicester match:
1) Go with his strongest team (that is to say at least 10 starters from the last couple of games).
Pros – Theoretically gives the maximum chance of getting a result in both games.
Cons – High risk of injury and fatigue. The knives would be out if a key player was injured at Leicester or we looked knackered at the City ground after potentially 120 minutes. Clough has been saying how he’s happy with his first 18 and could play anyone. If he doesn’t rotate on Tuesday, it doesn’t show much faith in the others.
2) Make a couple of changes, perhaps start with Sammon, bring Coutts back in and consider starts for Freeman and Jacobs.
Pros – Freshens things up, gives someone a rest and some would say produces a stronger team. If we don’t win, we know we’ve got more in the tank for Saturday.
Cons – Tweaking a couple of players is neither here nor there. It will be more or less the same team, showing that the squad isn’t actually that versatile beyond swapping a striker here or there. If we lose, there are still no excuses.
3) Make significant changes, including a couple of wild cards:
Pros – everyone likes to see some new faces and experimentation and will be more forgiving in defeat. Leicester will probably mix it up and its the Carling Cup after all. As for who should come in – Freeman, Bennett, Jacobs, Sammon. Considering the dearth of left footed players in the main ‘squad’ I would also consider Hoganson, new Northern Ireland 21 cap Rhys Sharpe and even Max Lowe who bagged a couple of goals for the U21s this week. Admittedly, I’ve seen limited amounts of these players (but seen them all nevertheless) and given Forsyth’s up and down form, it wouldn’t be a bad thing to add one or two to the squad. Gjokaj should also be considered, seeing as he’s the only other defender in the squad!
Cons – risk of a morale sapping heavy defeat. Accusations of not taking the cup seriously when its our best run in years.
Personally, I’d go for option 3. How about you?