Paul Taylor: Tactics were not the main issue for Nottingham Forest on Saturday
AMID a brutal, honest assessment of his side's performance on Saturday evening, one comment from Alex McLeish drew more attention than any other.
Amid some cutting criticisms of his players, it was little more than a passing comment when he said: "I felt, tactically, we were fine."
These six simple words were greeted, on the internet, like the ramblings of a madman.
But, to a degree, McLeish had a valid point. There was a logic to his team selection.
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This was, after all the same line-up that had tormented Derby County in the final 20 minutes at Pride Park.
Against the Rams, after Dexter Blackstock had been introduced as a substitute, Forest looked dangerous with both Billy Sharp and Simon Cox trying to pick up the pieces off him.
While, at the back, asides from the moment Simon Gillett uncharacteristically gave away possession to Connor Sammon, Forest's defence had looked more than solid.
And, against a Watford side that like to play fluid football – just as Derby do on home turf – McLeish probably hoped for more of the same, when he gave the same group another chance to impress.
He will also have been hoping for more of the same in the sense that the formation is the one that has been most successful for the Reds this season.
There were several reasons behind Forest's dismal, disappointing defeat – and McLeish, as manager, will ultimately have to take responsibility for every single one of them.
But the choice of tactics and even team selection would be a long way down that particular, gloomy, disconcerting list of what went wrong.
Right at the top would be a shocking, previously unforeseen level of fragility in a back four that, while recently finding clean sheets hard to come by, had not been in the habit of handing the opposition goals on a plate on a regular basis.
And it would be closely followed by the failure of that attacking trio to show anything like the same level of attacking menace and cutting edge as they had done during a one-sided finale at the other end of the A52.
Between now and Saturday, when McLeish takes his side to the familiar surroundings of St Andrews, his task is exactly the same as the one faced by his predecessor. And that is to rid Forest of the inconsistency that has dogged them all season.
But, once the players cross the white line, it is also their responsibility to ensure that they perform.
McLeish can arm them with a plan; with a tactical approach. That is his responsibility; his job.
But it is also down to the players to fulfil their side of the bargain, once they step out on to the pitch.