Nottingham Forest: McLeish's verdict on Watford defeat
THE sharpness of Watford's strikers – and the lack of cutting edge from Forest's front men – was the key factor in a painful afternoon at the City Ground, said Alex McLeish.
While Matej Vydra netted twice and also set up strike-partner Troy Deeney for another, the Reds forward line produced a lacklustre display, with Dexter Blackstock spurning one golden, first-half chance in uncharacteristic fashion.
Reds boss McLeish fielded all three of his big name front men, with Simon Cox playing in the hole just off Billy Sharp and Blackstock. But it was Watford's ruthless finishing that decided the game.
And McLeish said: "I felt, tactically, we were fine. But the two centre forwards caused our back four a real problem.
"We knew Vydra would sit in the hole and be a danger on the break.
"The second goal was a little fortunate for them, in that I think the pass was meant for Troy Deeney, who would have been offside. But Vydra ran through from a deeper position.
"Even then, however, I'd like to see the final pass again, to see if there was a question of offside there as well.
"But the linesman let it go and we found ourselves 2-0 down.
"We had a chance to get ourselves back into it, just before half time.
"We could have got the fans going again, when Dexter had a chance just before half time.
"Dexter knows he should be burying chances like that.
"He is disappointed. He is a striker who loves to score goals and he will know that was a gilt-edged chance for him."
McLeish conceded the performance suggested Forest are a long way from being a side capable of challenging for the top six.
"The fans would be right to think that, on this performance," he said.
"I have to pick these guys up and show some leadership. I will do that.
"I also know they are much better than they showed here.
"I have stuck to the formula that has taken us so far this season.
"We tinkered with things a little in the Oldham game, but otherwise we have not changed too much.
"We had Andy Reid missing for a few weeks, Daniel Ayala is still missing – there are missing players who are crucial to our attempt to make the play-offs.
"I also have to evaluate why there was a lack of sharpness.
"We know Watford have been away this week, getting some sun on their bodies.
"I remember that being useful when I was an Aberdeen player.
"We would go away every January."