IT’S about time we all had a bit of realism where Saints is concerned.
People are talking about whether Jan Poortvliet should be sacked, about systems of play, about a lack of effort from the players.
The trouble Saints have got is an issue of quality in one particular area of the field – unfortunately that area is the most important one.
It wouldn’t matter whether Alex Ferguson or Jose Mourinho were in charge – Saints don’t have a natural goalscorer available to pick and, without one, they are starting to look increasingly doomed.
It wouldn’t matter whether you played eight up front if none of them could score goals regularly.
And it wouldn’t matter if the players started sweating blood and weren’t able to walk for three days after a game as they had run so much, because a bit of effort is not what’s missing.
Saints lack a bit of quality, pure and simple.
And that can only be put right at the very top of the club by somehow finding the money it costs to remedy that problem. If not this match proved what can be expected over the rest of the season.
It’s actually got to the point where you start to feel sorry for Jan and the players because it’s hard to see what more they can do.
Yes, they were very poor against Forest. At times they were dismal.
But look at the striking options open to Poortvliet – what options?
David McGoldrick was harshly treated as some fans booed him off the pitch.
He doesn’t deserve that.
Though he does sometimes have a lethargic look about him, the guy is giving his all but he is so short of confidence it’s almost cruel to keep putting him out there.
Every striker has these problems, even the best. When it does they get a rest, but that can’t happen at Saints because there is virtually no one else to choose from.
Make no mistake, Saints are in big trouble. The ship is sinking and it may disappear without trace if it carries on this way much longer.
But accusing the players of not trying, or sacking Poortvliet, is not the answer.
There is a very real possibility that with the players available this is as good as it gets.
Unless the squad changes with some extra quality drafted in where it’s needed most, then this is it.
Talk of long term plans and what can be achieved next season is all very well but Saints need a boost now before it’s too late.
Losing at home to Forest was a disastrous result and, barring some miraculous run, leaves Saints facing a battle to stay up.
And of course that might be minus a few others come the end of January.
Saints deserved to lose to Forest. They were poor, sloppy and look like a collective bunch so short on confidence that if they don’t take the lead within the first 15 minutes then it’s game over.
Only trouble is when that happens with young players you take them out and give them a breather – but Saints don’t have anybody else to replace them.
A case in point is McGoldrick who had the first chance of the game on seven minutes.
Lee Camp spilled a cross but McGoldrick was so tentative that his attempt to lob the keeper barely got off the ground.
At the other end Kelvin Davis produced a fine save to stop Arron Davies’ sidefooted effort after Rob Earnshaw had prayed on an unfortunate slip by Alex Pearce and crossed low to the far post.
Andrew Surman provided a rare bright moment for Saints on 20 minutes with a speculative effort from 20 yards that skimmed over the surface but hit the post.
But Forest always looked like they might get a goal and would have done had it not been for Jason Euell clearing Matt Thornhill’s volley off the line.
However, the reprieve was only temporary as Forest made it 1-0 three minutes before half time.
The referee gave a free-kick that never was on the left wing and Saints failed to defend it.
Chris Cohen whipped the ball in and picked out the head of Wes Morgan, who had the freedom of the area to give his side the lead. It was dreadful defending.
That had a hammer effect on Saints, who were in their shells for much of the second half and on the occasions they weren’t could barely find a cross to beat the first man.
Forest could have doubled their lead when Cohen headed over and when Davis showed a strong wrist to block a fierce near post effort from Paul Anderson.
But it was 2-0 on 75 minutes when Saints lost the ball, didn’t quite close down Joe Garner quickly enough and saw the Forest man produce a sublime piece of skill to lob Davis from 35 yards.