Ahead of tomorrow’s match, we speak to Forest fan Harry Martin about how Stuart Pearce’s side has fared so far this season, and how he thinks the game at Vicarage Road will go
Vital Watford: First of all, tell us a little bit about yourself and your Forest supporting history.
Harry Martin: I’m 17 years old and have been a Forest season ticket holder for a good 12 years. It just runs in the family and from that first game I was taken to see I have been hooked ever since. In terms of my favourite players over this period it has to be Andy Reid. A class act with a wand of a left foot, and now back at the club he is definitely a fans` favourite.
VW: Before this season started, what were your expectations?
HM: I think that’s a tough one to answer. From club legend Stuart Pearce returning at the helm of the club, to the set of quality players coming in like Michael Mancienne, Chris Burke and Britt Assombalonga, there have been many changes at the club during the summer both on and off the field.
The quality of the players coming in does not guarantee the squad will gel quickly and start ticking straight away. So, with the playing squad at Pearce`s disposal I would say expectations are for the club to finish in the top six, but I didn’t expect it to come together this quickly.
Having said that, with the money spent, fans want instant success, but from a personal point of view I would be happy with top six.
VW: Do you have what it takes to go up?
HM: I would like to think we have what it takes to go up, especially with the additions brought into the squad. Having said that, as in the last few seasons, injuries seem to have hit Forest hard already. We`ve lost club captain Chris Cohen for what looks to be the season. We`ve also lost Andy Reid and Jack Hobbs, who are both very influential figures.
I think with a fully fit squad, with the addition of us finally finding a natural goal scorer in Assombalonga, we have what it takes to go up as long as we somehow limit the injuries and get the likes of Reid back.
VW: Your loss away at Fulham on Saturday was your first defeat of the season. How did you go on unabated for so long? Do you deserve to have only lost one so far?
HM: To start with, the unbeaten run was very, very impressive. I saw something from Forest that I hadn’t seen in a long time through this run, and that was the ability to win a football match in many different ways. This was down to the Pearce factor and him not being afraid to change things up if required. This really encouraged the players, as they knew if they weren’t doing their job they were out of the team.
We weren’t battering teams or outplaying them, we have simply been very, very solid at the back as well as being clinical up top – it always felt like we could nick a goal.
This was highlighted in the away game at Bournemouth. At half time we had something like 20% possession, and we were really getting the runaround. We ended up digging deep and ran out 2-1 winners with something like three shots on goal.
The most important thing about the unbeaten record was the determination of the players and the spirit they showed, scoring equalisers four minutes into injury time against Ipswich and so on. We really knew how to get results.
In terms of perhaps deserving to lose, the answer might be yes. The Bournemouth game that I mentioned was incredible because in all truth we didn’t even deserve a point. This was a repeat of Sheffield Wednesday away where Karl Darlow had a sublime showing in goal to win us the game. Overall we probably should have lost before the Cardiff game on Saturday.
VW:Britt Assombalonga is a player most Watford fans will know about, despite only playing a little over two hours in a yellow shirt. His goalscoring record speaks for itself, but how do you rate him so far?
HM: With Britt Assombalonga it really feels we are more of a threat up front, and although it`s early days what a signing he looks to be – the league`s top goalscorer for starters.
Aside from being such a clinical finisher, the thing that’s impressed me the most is his willingness to work for the team and chase down lost causes. It’s really good to see his passion and commitment for Forest and he is really buying into Pearce`s ethic of determination and effort.
He is the complete striker, able to hold the ball up very well to bring others in to play and can also play on the shoulder with the pace and power he possesses. At the age of 21 I think he will go very far.
VW: How do you like to play, and how do you expect to line up against Watford?
HM: We don’t really have a certain style that we deploy, it’s very mix and match and I like that. The fact we can change things up if needs be is really useful.
We usually line up with a basic 4-4-2, with natural width in Chris Burke and Michail Antonio. We can pass the ball around effectively, but to be honest this is mainly when the influential Andy Reid is in the squad – he really does make the difference for Forest, with such class and ability on the ball.
We can also go direct when we give Antonio the role of a wide target man and play off him. That can be effective, but this is more a system that we play when behind.
Regarding the game on Tuesday night, Forest are missing the key figures of Andy Reid through injury and Henri Lansbury through suspension. I would suspect Pearce will send out a side to play 4-4-2 with Fryatt and Assombalonga as the front men and David Vaughan coming in for Lansbury. When fit Vaughan is a very good player at this level.
I should think we will try to keep it tight and compact at the back and then try and hit Watford on the break but only time will tell.
VW: Who is your most in-form player at the moment? Who should we watch out for?
HM: We`re not really in great form at the moment – we`ve not won in five – and no one is bang in form going forward. At the back Michael Mancienne is very solid and assured and arguably the best in the league in his position.
Going forward though, Michail Antonio has had a great start to his Forest career, being the most influential player in the league in terms of assists and goals. He is always a threat even though he sometimes looks like Bambi on ice, but he`s very unpredictable in a good way, with the searing pace his possesses.
Assombalonga is always a threat, and of course with the way football goes you could see him scoring at the Vic.
Last but not least Chris Burke is a very good winger who possesses a peach of a cross on him, and he`s a player who, like Antonio, likes to beat a man.
VW: What`s your score prediction for tomorrow`s match?
HM: It`s very tough to predict the score as this is a very unpredictable SkyBet Championship. Realistically, I would suggest 1-1, but we just seem a little rattled at the moment and lack that composure on the ball that will be required against a very slick and confident Watford team.
If we give away the ball cheaply I just feel that we will get punished so I’m going to go with 2-1 to Watford.
Saying that, we may catch Watford on an off day, although right now that is hard to see with the confidence that must be flowing through that Watford team. Of course, you`ll also want to maintain your place at the top. 2-1 Watford it is.
We`d like to thank Harry for speaking to us. You can follow his thoughts throughout tomorrow`s game by following him on Twitter: ');