A new year, a new signing but sadly another disappointing and early exit from the FA Cup. Forest were good value for the win and there can be no defence from either Mark Hughes or the players for a display as lifeless as any we have seen this season.
To compound the afternoons events, the injury to Shaun Wright-Phillips is likely to sideline him for the whole of January - leaving a big hole in our side.
- Shorn of our three best players - certainly from an attacking and creative perspective - the lack of quality in squad depth was starkly exposed today.
- With the signing of Bridge confirmed (god knows what he made of it today) Hughes must strengthen the centre of defence next. Far too many goals have been shipped this season and the form of Dunne and Richards continues to be a concern.
- Elano's pre-game comments about a move to Lazio were mis-timed and having appeared to work himself out of Hughes's doghouse, has he talked himself out of the club?
- At least we still have the UEFA Cup. We have played the most number of games of any Premier League side so not having any further games in this competition will be benefical. Hardly a consolation though is it?
- Hughes was defiant after the game about his position, but having weathered a storm of late with a positive return over Christmas, speculation will invariably begin again.
“I won’t defend it because it was indefensible. At the end of the day we’re playing a team that’s struggling in a lower league than ourselves and we should make a better fist of it than we did.
“They showed more desire, physically they pushed themselves, ran around and forced errors. They took their chances when they presented themselves. It was a great strike for the first goal but in fairness they fully deserved the victory. The manner of our performance was nowhere near the level of where it needs to be.
“We were missing the creative spark of Robinho, Shaun Wright-Phillips and obviously Stevie Ireland, that’s no excuse the players on the field of play today should have made a better fist of it than we were able to.
“Credit to Nottingham Forest they really worked hard for each other and they could sense an upset today. We got to be much better than we showed today.
“I think people have to be honest and accept that today we didn’t perform. We’re not good enough to be able to carry players when we play games, irrespective of the opposition, if we’ve got three, four or five players not at the level we know they’re capable of then it compromises the team. That was evident today we had too many players nowhere near that level and as a consequence we lost the game.
“I was concerned with the collective showing of the team itself. Today, without the shining lights of the season so far, Stevie Ireland, Robinho and Shaun Wright-Phillips, we looked lacking. We’re honest in that respect and I think we’ve possibly relied on those players too much and allowed them to carry the team somewhat.
“We’re obviously disappointed to go out of the FA Cup, it’s a fantastic competition, as we all know. But where we are at this moment in time we can’t compete on all fronts. We’ve got the UEFA Cup and important league games ahead of us but maybe we’re just not in a position, given the strength of the squad to be able to carry the fight on all fronts. That’s an honest assessment at this moment in time I would suggest.”