Forest and County

Are Forest too good to go down?

Each year there is a team that is considered by many as ‘too good to go down’. Pundits and fans alike will look at the squad, the manager and even the size of a club and prematurely deem them safe. Do Nottingham Forest fall under this category, or, given the current turmoil that engulfs the club, is there a serious risk that the Reds could plunge into League 1?  

It’s around this time of year that teams finally come to terms with what battle they’re involved in, whether this be for promotion or for staving off relegation.

The most optimistic, or less delicately put, deluded fans will argue that overcoming that 19 point gap to mount a promotion push is still achievable for Forest. In reality, Nottingham Forest are firmly in a relegation dog-fight, despite having a tiny bit of breathing room between themselves and the drop zone.

Are Nottingham Forest too good to go down? Myself, alongside many football fans and analysts, are surprised to find a club like Forest, who possess such a wealth of talent, in the position they’re in. So will the West Bridgford club be plying their trade in the Championship, or will Ben Osborn and co. be travelling to Fleetwood Town on a Tuesday night come next season?

On paper, with the squad they have, Forest shouldn’t be in the lower echelons of the table. Not only does the squad boast a number of players who have played at a higher level, including the likes of Nicklas Bendtner and Pajtim Kasami, but also many who have considerable experience playing at this level, such as Matt Mills, David Vaughan and Eric Lichaj.

This mixture of quality and experience, with the addition of young hungry talent being produced consistently by the impressive academy, really should be competing at the upper end of the table. Especially when you compare their squad to that of teams like Huddersfield and Barnsley.

However, this issue isn’t uncommon in sport. It isn’t an unusual phenomenon for clubs that have teams littered with talent to struggle. A prime example is Newcastle last year.

Consistently Newcastle were considered ‘too good to go down’, due to the strength of their squad. Players such as Moussa Sissoko and Gini Wijinaldum were considered to have the quality to at least keep Newcastle up – especially under the stewardship of an experienced manager like Rafa Benetiez.

Despite this, Newcastle find themselves in a lower division this season, while teams perceived to be worse than them, including their North-East rivals Sunderland, retained their place. Could Forest follow the same pattern?

There are considerable similarities between the two clubs. Both have expectant fan bases, having been treated to considerably more success in the past.

Alongside this, both sets of fans have tumultuous relationships with their respective owners; a factor which has no doubt contributed to their recent struggles. Issues off the pitch tend to effect performances on the pitch, and Forest’s recent issues at the boardroom level has definitely dampened moral.

However, this excuse can only go so far. The current squad must take responsibility for their poor season and react soon, or face a season in League 1, which has been a graveyard for many big clubs in recent years.

So will Forest go down? Both my heart and head say no. Although there are blatant problems that need to be addressed at all levels of the club, the quality of the current squad, under the interim manager Gary Brazil, should be enough to see them through a tough season.

A big January transfer window, especially the signing of proven Championship players in the form of Zach Clough and Ross McCormack should be a massive help in the run in.

Despite Al-Hasawi having his critics, these signings, as well as writing off around £18 million of debt, should provide a lift that the club was in dire need of. The remaining fixtures include many of the teams around them, and as long as complacency doesn’t seep in, Forest should be winning these games, confirming their place in the Championship next year.

Alex Buxton

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