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Welcome to the players, officials and supporters of Nottingham Forest for our first game of 2009 – and may I wish a Happy New Year to everybody associated with Manchester City and our visitors today.
Our win over Hull on Boxing Day was one of those happy occasions when everything just clicks. We will always be confident of creating plenty of chances when at home, and importantly we took them when they came along from the word go against Hull. Having started the day in the bottom three, we would have been happy with any kind of win, but such an emphatic one was a just reward, and our positive goal difference is really counting in our favour. I’m sure that everybody who came along enjoyed an entertaining afternoon.
Stephen Ireland rounded off what has been an excellent year for him with another outstanding performance against Hull – he fully deserves all the plaudits that are going his way at the moment. The other player I want to pick out is Felipe Caicedo, who has been so impressive since coming on as a substitute in Santander a couple of weeks ago. It is never easy for a player when they are a little way down the pecking order, but Felipe has really impressed me with his attitude and approach to training throughout the season. I had no qualms about picking him and he has responded superbly. I also think the way the crowd received his two goals on Boxing Day gave him a nice reward for all his hard work of late.
Last Sunday’s return to my old stamping ground proved to be more difficult, as I think we all knew it would be. The lads showed real character to bounce back from two goals down with just a couple of minutes left; it takes a lot of belief and courage to score twice in the dying minutes like we did, and there was a great feeling in the dressing room afterwards. To equalise in front of our own fans as well was a nice moment, now I want to use that result as a springboard into the rest of the season. My teams are traditionally strong in the latter part of a campaign, and we will be aiming to build upon where we are as 2009 begins.
We have the UEFA Cup to look forward to in February, but before then we have more pressing matters in the league and today’s FA Cup tie. I was lucky enough to pick up several winners’ medals in this fantastic competition as a player, and as a manager with my previous club I went to a semi final not so long ago.
I’m looking to go one step further this time around, but I can assure you that we are not underestimating Nottingham Forest despite their current position in the Championship. The FA Cup is all about shock results, and we have already suffered one in another competition this season, so we will do everything we can to ensure we are in the hat for the fourth round draw on Sunday. It is a competition I have great respect for, and I always show it the respect that I think it deserves. The third round is one of the great dates in the football calendar, the FA Cup is very special and that is why there is such huge interest in it around the world.
Enjoy the game, and on behalf of the team and all my staff thank you again for your incredible backing in 2008. The support we receive home and away is a real inspiration to us and we aim to repay you in 2009.
Article courtesy of www.mcfc.co.uk