Championship previews: Derby boss Clough admits Forest's fall is heartbreaking
Published 08:23 04/02/12 By MirrorFootball
Nigel Clough can inflict more misery on his beloved Nottingham Forest this weekend – but admits their plight causes him pain.
Clough’s Derby side are on a mission to complete a double over their struggling East Midlands rivals and bid to pile more relegation pressure on Steve Cotterill.
The Rams boss won two League Cups and reached an FA Cup Final and two semi-finals in a glittering nine-year spell at the City Ground – but received huge criticism from fans for taking over at Pride Park.
Clough has not spoken about his love for the club since his appointment down the Brian Clough Way, but has lifted the lid ahead of tomorrow’s bitter local argument.
And the former Forest striker has insisted he will take no pleasure in watching the club his dad built make another humiliating drop into League One.
He said: “I’m surprised to see Forest in the position they’re in and there’s an element of sadness because I have many happy memories. My best moment as a supporter was the European Cup wins, then I won a couple of trophies there as a player in the late 1980s.
“I grew up as a Forest fan – when your dad’s been the manager there for 18 years it’s difficult not to. But they’re our local rivals, and while we don’t wish them any goodwill, we don’t wish them any ill-will either.
“The person I feel most sorry for is the former chairman Nigel Doughty, who pumped an incredible amount of money in over the last 10 years and now sees his club in this position.
“Ideally both clubs would be up there doing well and in the Premier League. If us and Forest aren’t in the same division, we don’t have these derbies so we’d miss that.
“But we achieved one of the best results of my time here when we won there in September and we want to try and get another one in front of our own fans.”
Forest are five points adrift of safety while Cotterill admits he is “suffering in silence” and must feel cursed after a similarly turbulent spell at former club Portsmouth.
He said: “I’ve been dealt a bad hand. Sometimes you feel like saying something and when you don’t you just end up getting more stick.
“There is not much money to address the situation and even on deadline day I was trying to get players in at 6pm, when we had a game against Burnley less than two hours later.
“But I can only believe this experience will make me a better manager.
This is the sort of game that can kick-start the remaining 17 games of the season if we can win.”
Tony Mowbray has called for Middlesbrough to put aside their fatigue and rise to the “pressure” of needing a win at home to Crystal Palac e, writes Simon Bird .
They are without a Championship victory since Boxing Day and their place in the promotion race top six is under threat.
“Three points are crucial for us because it keeps us in and among the leading teams,” said Boro boss Mowbray. “We slipped out of the top six on Tuesday night and Wednesday’s draw put us back in there so a win against Palace keeps us in the top six. The pressure is on us to keep our foot on the gas.
“In reality we’re playing three games in six days and the intensity of the two so far means it’s going to be a difficult game. Knowing the team we’re playing, it’s going to be tough, especially the way they’re set up.”
Billy Sharp has spent most of the season trying to outscore Rickie Lambert, but now aims to form a deadly double act with his new Southampton strike partner.
The pair were two of the early season favourites to land the Championship’s coveted golden boot, but 10-goal Sharp has been left trailing by Lambert’s haul of 19.
Sharp, who plays alongside Lambert for the first time at Birmingham today following a £1.8million move from Doncaster, said: “I’ve been trying to catch Rickie up all season, but he keeps scoring every time I do. He is doing really well.
“He came to Southampton and hasn’t stopped scoring since he arrived, hopefully that will continue and I will get the goals with him.
“We have a great chance of getting into the Premier League. Everyone knows that I want to play there, and I’m really looking forward to the challenge.”
Goal-getter Sharp, who initially rejected a move to Saints last summer, said: “I have worked with [manager] Nigel Adkins before [at Scunthorpe] and enjoyed my football when I was with him.
“That is what you need to do when you play football. If you are enjoying it you tend to do well, so hopefully that will happen again.
“I haven’t signed to get away from the things that have been well publicised, and people thought I wouldn’t sign here because I like Yorkshire too much.
“That’s not the case, I just happened to be around Yorkshire for most of my career, but the time felt right to make this move and I am absolutely delighted.
“I’ve gone from second bottom to second top – not bad for a day’s work!”
Adkins believes Sharp can play a key role in Saints ending their seven-year Premier League exile.
He said: “Billy will be a super addition to our squad. It’s good that I’ve worked with him – he scores plenty of goals.”
Michael Tonge is relieved finally to see the back of his soul-destroying Saturdays now he has switched to Barnsley .
The loan signing admits he hated match-days after failing to make the grade at parent club Stoke.
Tonge used to spend his time in front of the TV, checking on goals, when he would rather have been scoring his own.
Ahead of today's trip to Watford , he revealed: “You feel like you’re missing something when you’re sat at home. When the results come in, I was on a bit of a low.
“When I was at Sheffield United I was used to being involved week in, week out. When you’re not, it’s soul-destroying.”
Now Tonge, 28, is hoping to land a permanent move to Oakwell and resurrect a faltering career.
“I’ve been impressed with what I’ve seen so far,” he said.
Seyi Olofinjana is ready to come in from the cold and take Hull back to the Premier League.
The Nigerian midfielder, 31, will end almost two years in the wilderness against Portsmouth today by making his first league start since April 2010.
And the former Wolves ace, who arrived at the KC Stadium in a £3million switch from Stoke three years ago, already has his sights firmly set on promotion.
Olofinjana, who has made only 20 appearances for City because of form and fitness problems, said: “I have 17 months left on my contract, but I want to be here longer and help us get back to the Premier League.
“I hope we can kick on and get up there. Absolutely we can get back. Why not? I am fit again now after a knee operation last summer and I feel sharp.”