Forest boss Billy Davies was tonight demanding that his players keep their feet firmly on the floor and their minds on the job in hand after Dexter Blackstock's 90th minute winner against Bristol City dumped Bryan Gunn's Canaries back in the bottom three.
Tomorrow and Forest travel to the form club of the division – Sheffield United. Norwich, by contrast, play host to mid-table Watford.
The form book would suggest that the two clubs could swap places again. As much as the form book counts for anything at this stage of the season.
One thing, however, is now not in doubt – that Davies and the rookie Gunn will be pitting their managerial wits against eachother for the next three weeks in a desperate, last-ditch bid to avoid the drop.
It might now be Benitez versus Sir Alex for the Premiership title, but that final ticket to the third tier of English football is likely to be decided by what either man says in those two, nerve-shredded dressing rooms.
This weekend and it was Davies looking to bring his players back down to Earth; Gunn looking to pick his up off the floor after yesterday's 2-1 defeat at Swansea.
“We've still got work to do – there's still work in progress at this football club,” Davies told reporters afterwards.
“But it is a very important three points – there's no doubt about that. And with just four games to go, it could be a big, big result for us.”
It will be an even bigger result tomorrow if they can prise anything out of the Blades. A day fresher after that 1-0 away win at Reading on Friday night, United are storming up that table with one eye firmly fixed on that second automatic promotion spot. They are now just one point behind a stuttering Birmingham City.
“It's difficult because they've been given an extra 24 hours recovery – and I'm disappointed from that point of view,” said Davies, well aware of the advantage Kevin Blackwell's side will enjoy going into tomorrow's crunch clash.
“And that extra 24 hours could be crucial. But, again, we'll go there and have a right good go at a side that's pushing for automatic promotion.”
Robert Earnshaw – scorer of Forest's first leveller – may yet miss the game with a knee knock; it is one, small straw for Gunn to cling to as he tries his best to plot Norwich's path to safety.
Like everyone else, he's looked at the remaining fixtures and come to one, simple conclusion – the team with the stoutest heart and biggest characters will avoid the drop.
“If you look at Forest's fixtures; look at Barnsley's fixtures; look at our fixtures – they're all very difficult fixtures. So it'll be down to the bravest team now,” the City chief told BBC Radio Norfolk after yesterday's defeat.
“The team that really, really believe that they can get themselves out of this situation.”
If – and it's a huge if – results go well tomorrow, then advantage will swing back Norwich's way. The hope is that Barnsley likewise stumble at home to Swansea; that Mr Scotland can do another number on them.
“We don't know what's around the corner on Monday, but we hope that we give ourselves a fighting chance and put ourselves up above that line again,” said Gunn. Plymouth travel to Birmingham City; they might find themselves within sight of the struggling Norfolk side.
“There are still a couple of teams there that are in touching distance to us and we've got to really believe that we can get ourselves out of this situation,” added the City chief, defiant to the last.
“I hope no-one in the dressing room has given up – I certainly haven't. And I hope the fans haven't given up. We've got to keep battling right to the final moment. And that's what I'll be putting across to the players when we sit down at Colney tomorrow [Sunday].”
Where the finishing line will be is anyone's guess – the easiest way is to win all four remaining games and hope that someone else stumbles.
“We've got to keep believing that we can win all four – that's where we've got to start,” said Gunn, with no fresh injuries to report ahead of tomorrow's must-win encounter.
“And if we do that we'll have the best opportunity to get ourselves out of this situation. We certainly need to believe that we can win games and it's my job and the staff's job now to lift morale and get a team on the pitch that believe they can win a game of football on Monday.”
He was under no illusions as to just how big a game it was. One false move now and the Fat Lady will, indeed, be warming up her tonsils.
“I just hope everyone realises how important it is and I'm sure once we take to the park at three o'clock and that first whistle, that our players will know in no uncertain terms that they'll have to go out there and perform in very difficult circumstances.
“But they'll have to do it if they want this football club to be in the Championship next season.”
And right now, it's as simple and as straight-forward as that.
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