Forest gain something from nothing

The lone English survivors in the Uefa Cup can progress further, says Glenn Moore
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The Independent Online
In European football, the result is all. Enough good ones and the riches and glory will follow. In many ways, Nottingham Forest are the arch exponents of this policy. Frank Clark's team, like Brian Clough's Forest vintage, concentrates on defence, on strangling the opposition, then maximising their own rare attacking opportunities.

In seven Uefa Cup matches, Forest have only once dominated the opposition, at home to Malmo in the first round of the competition. On Wednesday, as in most of their other games, they were indebted to Mark Crossley's sharpness in goal and an eight-man defence. They returned with the result they sought - a narrow defeat, and an away goal.

Yet, for once, their satisfaction was muted. The mood in the dressing- room afterwards dwelt more on what the team felt was a poor performance, than the result it garnered.

Such an attitude is as encouraging as it is realistic. If Forest just got by in defence, in attack they were poor. Pity Bryan Roy and Kevin Campbell who, outnumbered and isolated, barely received a decent pass all night. Only Ian Woan, with his languid left foot, sought to play the ball from defence with any regularity.

Forest will need to play better in the return leg at the City Ground on 19 March if they are to progress. But so will Bayern Munich. They were as disappointing as Forest, although they dominated the match their movement and imagination was unexceptional.

Jurgen Klinsmann was as threatening as ever, the busy Mehmet Scholl and the thoughtful Ciri Sforza impressed in midfield, but there was little else from the leaders of the Bundesliga. Forest, who will have Scot Gemmill suspended for the second leg, could find themselves in the semi-finals.

England can learn some lessons from Forest's progress. Forest's style is an amalgam of what is generally accepted to be the English game and the European one.

The latter is shown when they attack. When the opposition is behind the ball, Forest are prepared to pass it around, looking patiently for an opening. When their opponents have been caught upfield, they break quickly, passing short and long primarily along the ground. Not much of either practice was seen on Tuesday.

Their defending is more traditionally English. When in doubt, kick it out, and harry and chase everyone and everything. This is fine on a sub- zero night in Germany, but as the Irish have found, it is exhausting during a summer tournament.