The M42/A42/A453 derby

Here come Nottingham Forest. Lucky them.

Saturday afternoon sees the arrival of Nottingham Forest, by far the least offensive visitors we’ve welcomed lately. It’s hard to sum up feelings one way or the other about Forest; they finally got back into the Premier League, just about stayed up last season and look like they’ll manage to do it a lot easier this time, based on at least three clubs being worse than them. Unless, of course, the FA decide to make an example of them and dock a few points for buying almost as many players as Manchester City have got charges they’ll eventually be cleared of.

Forest haven’t got any great sense of entitlement and no annoying celebrity supporters that I can think of apart from Carl Froch and you wouldn’t call him annoying, at least not within earshot. They’ve got an anonymous set of players, they’re neither media darlings nor plucky underdogs. They just exist.

A lot of players have been with both clubs, including Matty Cash. Forest have gone through 22 managers this century, which is impressive, and four of them have got Villa connections*. None of them, or the others, will be remembered as long as Brian Clough; it’s the law that whenever you write about Forest Clouh has to be mentioned. The current incumbent is Nuno, talking a step down from clubs who have dominated world football, in their own minds at least, to two-time former European champions. We’ve got no more injuries so far although the idea that we might have any of the existing ones back is wildly optimistic. At the Villa, if you’re out, you’re out for a very long time.

We played badly at Forest and we’ve been almost as bad at Villa Park lately. Saturday is where both these things are put right.

*David Platt, Colin Calderwood, Alex McLeish and Martin O’Neill. Ron Atkinson was there in 1999 as well.