Forest destined for more mid-table mediocrity this season?

It’s been 17 years since Nottingham Forest last played in the top flight of English football, and that is far too long for a club of their size. After all, Nottingham Forest have won the FA Cup twice, the League Cup four times, the league championship once and the European cup on no less than two occasions.

But despite this rich history, success has been hard to come by since the turn of the century, and has been largely characterised by near misses. The club have lost four play-off semi-finals, three of which were in the Championship.

Since their most recent play-off defeat in 2011, Forest have been sliding towards mediocrity, with a 16th place mid-table finish last season becoming all too familiar.

However, a new season has brought fresh optimism, with the club appointing Frenchman Philippe Montanier as their new manager. He has made some shrewd signings in the transfer market, such as Apostolos Vellios and Patjim Kasami, two players with Premier League pedigree. However, the signing which grabbed the headlines was, of course, Nicklas Bendtner.

The Dane is somewhat of a cult hero in this country for his outspoken nature, which has earned him the nickname “Lord Bendtner”. Since leaving Arsenal, Bendtner’s career has somewhat stagnated, but his former manager Arsene Wenger offered Forest fans hope by suggesting that ‘he’s still only 28, so if he keeps fit he still has a chance to come back to the top level’.

There was one notable departure during the summer and that was young Scottish winger Oliver Burke, who joined Bundesliga side Red Bull Leipzig for £13 million, making him the most expensive Scottish player ever.

This has been widely criticised by fans, due to his fine early season form which saw him score four goals, and the fact that he was sold so late in the window, leaving the club with little time to spend the money they received.

“The new manager promised attacking football and no doubt this has been delivered, with Forest among the top scorers in the division”

While Burke will definitely be a huge miss, it could also be argued that £13 million was simply too good an offer to turn down for a 19-year-old who is still largely unproven, especially considering Forest’s recent financial struggles.

It has so far been a solid if not spectacular start to the season for Nottingham Forest, who find themselves just outside the top half of the Championship table. The new manager promised attacking football and no doubt this has been delivered, with Forest among the top scorers in the division.

However, they have one of the worst defences in the division and clearly this is an area which will have to improve if the club are to achieve promotion this season. This was demonstrated in their 4-0 defeat at home to Arsenal in the EFL Cup, which was an embarrassing performance for Montanier’s side, albeit against Premier League opposition.

Achieving promotion will be far from easy though, due to the competitive nature of the Championship. The spending power of Championship clubs is ever increasing, with a record £215 million being spent, making the Championship the fifth-highest spending league in Europe.

Nottingham Forest were amongst the lowest spenders in the division during the summer, and so promotion is always going to be a struggle. Nevertheless, if Assombalonga and Vellios can keep up their promising goal scoring form and Bendtner finally fulfills his potential, who knows what Forest could achieve this season?

Words by Tyler Gerrard

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