Behind Enemy Lines: Nottingham Forest

MILLWALL are back under the lights at The Den tonight looking to make it five games unbeaten and three wins in their last four home games.

Nottingham Forest are the visitors to SE16 – looking to maintain their place in the top six.

A win for the Lions would see them move to within two points of the play-off places ahead of the weekend's games.

Alex Grace spoke to Forest fan Steve Gibson this week.

Twitter: @Gibbo8

Why do you support Nottingham Forest?

I chose the red team on the telly during the FA Cup final in 1991, and my mum made sure I stuck with it.

It could have been different as I grew up in London, and my Grandad's a lifelong Millwall fan, so I went to a few games having gone to school in Deptford.

He taught himself how to text just to send me "Millwall won" last year when you beat us in December, knowing full well I went.

What has been your favourite season following the Reds?

It would have to be between 1997-98 when we were last promoted to the Premiership or 2007-08 when we got out of the hell that is League One.

There's been little to shout about since then as we play in the Championship for the 12th consecutive season.

And the worst?

Take your pick. I'd probably choose 2004-05 when we got relegated from the Championship, it was a horrible feeling and we had an awful manager in Gary Megson.

Close behind would be most of the Fawaz Al-Hasawi years – an awful owner who ruined our reputation not only within football but the local community too.

Sabri Lamouchi was appointed manager in the summer – how has he done?

Brilliantly. Not many could confess to knowing either who he was or what he would bring, but it didn't take long for him to get everyone behind the team after last season.

He's got the team confident, enjoying their football and, most importantly, has got us resolute and hard to beat. He only got given a one-year contract so we all hope he gets tied down shortly.

Gary Rowett is now the Millwall manager – what are your thoughts on that and do you think he is a good appointment by Millwall?

We know all about Rowett from his stint up the A52 with Derby (is he still wearing awful trainers?).

To be honest, I was a little shocked Neil Harris left, as I felt from the outside he was doing an alright job on a small budget. But I guess he had his reasons.

In Rowett I think we will see Millwall play a bit more positively and I wouldn't be surprised to see you continue to climb up the table.

Let's hope he doesn't jump ship when the going gets good, though.

Forest have surprised many so far – what have you made of your start to the season?

I think we've also been surprised by it, we've played excellently at times and even when we haven't, we've ground out results, something that we've not seen in years – coming from behind, holding onto leads etc..

The Christmas period is always tough so the real test will be where we are come January. Getting a key man in Samba Sow back from injury will be vital, and if we do good business and keep hold of a manager longer than it takes my Mrs to do her hair, then we could be in with a shout.

What are Forest's aims this season?

The board want promotion, it's as simple as that. It's what Lamouchi has been tasked with and if he doesn't get it he will be gone.

Our owner Evangelos Marinakis is used to success not only in football with Olympiakos but also in business. He wants results and the disappointment of falling away last year would have probably only spurred him on to desire success this year.

The fans are split between play-offs and making good progress, but I think there will be disappointment if we don't achieve top six.

What have you made of Millwall's start to the season?

You started off well I thought in the first couple of games but come the end of August and into September you were affected by the run of winless games, a period when it seemed most teams in the top half kept picking up wins so you fell a bit behind.

But I would have expected Harris to pick you back up and get you into gear again. A few good wins in there too (Charlton, Leeds).

You're in a good position now and on an unbeaten run, so I think there is potential for Millwall to make a late run for the top six if Rowett can keep it up.

If you could sign one Millwall player, who would it be and why?

I said earlier that Forest were resolute but we've also been clinical. There was a stat a few weeks ago that showed even though we were top five in the actual table, we were bottom of the Expected Goals (xG) table, showing chances were few and far between.

That said, I'd go for Jed Wallace as he seems to be where your goals come from either through creating something out of nothing or setting up others.

Who will be your key men on Friday?

It would have been a different game had we been playing a Neil Harris Millwall (as we saw against Cardiff on Saturday – just can't seem to beat him), but I've picked out three men in Brice Samba, Joe Worrall and Tiago Silva.

Samba has been revelation in goal, the best keeper I've seen at Forest since Mark Crossley. His calming presence and confidence I think has also helped Worrall in front of him who is also having a blinding season. How he handles Matt Smith will be key to us getting something from the game.

Finally Tiago Silva, the summer recruit from Feirense in Portugal, had a slow start to the season getting used to the Championship, but he has been dictating games of late and if we can get him on the ball and running things, we will have a great chance of a result on Friday.

Will you be at the game on Friday?

I never miss this one as it's a fixture with that added family rivalry. I was close to missing it due to it being moved to Friday but I'll be with the fellow reds in the North Stand.

What is your predicted Forest line-up and formation?

4-2-3-1: Samba; Cash, Dawson, Worrall, Robinson; Watson, Semedo; Silva, Lolley, Ameobi; Grabban.

Finally, a score prediction?

Will be tight but I fancy us not to lose like our usual trips to The Den of late: 1-1.

Graphic: @ShedCreative