Joe Kinnear was spoiling for a fight. Nottingham Forest's followers, having seen Paul Peschisolido lead a Derby rampage in a tribal tussle that had a wider bearing on the First Division relegation issue, were entitled to ask why the same could not be said of his team.
In a tirade which echoed the "us against the world" mentality that defined his time with Wimbledon, Kinnear alleged a negative attitude to his new club within the media. Win, lose or draw, "the same old crap" was "rammed down my throat". And the thing that so riles him? This offensive and unreasonable question: "Will Forest go down?"
Having posed it himself - the only person to do so, incidentally - Kinnear gave his own, predictable answer. "I've no doubt that we'll stay up. You can all print different at the end of the season if I'm wrong."
Why there would be any such ill will against Forest or their new manager is hard to fathom. Brian Clough's presence at Pride Park was a reminder of their purist values when they ruled Europe, while Kinnear's Wimbledon similarly upset the moneyed élite in the Premiership.
Yet this was a shambolic, supine display by Forest; no scribe worth his salt could argue otherwise. Why, even Kinnear admitted it was "a disaster". Peschisolido did most to make it so. The Canadian striker, who recently made Derby his eighth club, possessed too much know-how for Forest's young central defenders. Not only did he score twice to take his tally to four in three games, but he made the other goals.
While his new team remain in the drop zone, they have winnable home fixtures against Walsall, Bradford and Preston to come. The odd away victory would help, but only the soon-to-be MK Dons have a worse record on their travels. More's the pity, sighed Derby's manager, George Burley, that Peschisolido is prevented from playing at Sheffield United tomorrow by the terms of his transfer from Bramall Lane.
"Paul has been tremendous for us," Burley said. "Goals are so important. We had 32 shots against Crewe and it finished 0-0. We haven't had a forward scoring regularly and our top scorer is a midfielder, Ian Taylor. The fact that Paul took a pay cut to come here shows his attitude."
Peschisolido also had the technique to exploit his good fortune when, with Derby leading through another Taylor strike, a back-pass struck a coffee cup that had been blown on to the pitch by the high winds. The ball bobbled enough to make Forest's goalkeeper, Barry Roche, slice his clearance skywards, whereupon Mr Karren Brady volleyed in.
"I felt sorry for the keeper," Peschisolido said. "I was about to turn around when it went off his shin. I thought, 'Here we go. It's Christmas'." He revelled in an atmosphere which seemed to daunt Forest's back line. "This is what it's all about, 33,000 spectators going crazy," he added. "I just want to play regularly but I was in and out of the side at Sheffield and I got frustrated."
Peschisolido made it 3-0 with a shot on the run, only for Gareth Taylor and Gareth Williams to give Forest hope. Derby's fourth, a Marcus Tudgay drive that appeared to be diverted in by Leon Osman, an eye-catching midfielder on loan from Everton, ensured that the scoreline reflected the contest.
Kinnear was right about one thing. If Forest win at home to Crewe next Saturday, this surrender of East Midlands bragging rights will be largely forgotten. What the longer term holds for Clough's old clubs is harder to predict, however, the finances of both being so fragile.
When Kinnear was at the height of his rant about endlessly being queried about going down, a reporter decided to ask, as if to highlight the facile direction the press conference had taken, whether they might go up. "Yes. Next season," came the reply. He did not specify from which division.
Goals: Taylor (3) 1-0; Peschisolido (27) 2-0; Peschisolido (37) 3-0; G Taylor (45) 3-1; Williams (67) 3-2; Tudgay (82) 4-2.
Derby County (4-4-2): Grant; Jackson (Boertien, h-t), Mawene, M Johnson, Kenna; Costa (Holmes, 72), Huddlestone, Osman, I Taylor; Tudgay, Peschisolido. Substitutes not used: Oakes (gk), Labarthe Tomé, Whelan.
Nottingham Forest (4-4-1-1): Roche; Louis-Jean, Dawson, Morgan, Impey; Jess, Sonner, Williams, Reid; Barmby (D Johnson, 36); G Taylor. Substitutes not used: Formann (gk), Thompson, Doig, Westcarr.
Referee: D Pugh (Merseyside).
Bookings: Nottingham Forest: Dawson, Reid, Williams, G Taylor.
Man of the Match: Peschisolido.
Attendance: 32,390.Reuse content