Early doors #1: Nottingham Forest
Prior to the first game, The Seventy Two predicted that Nottingham Forest would finish third in the Championship this season. So what did Forest fans think about their chances and how have those opinions changed with three games gone?
We asked four Reds supporters for their thoughts so far. Many thanks to Richard Keane, Johnathan Sia, Matt Turland and Mike Gibbs for their contributions.
After you have read their opinions, please also check out the excellent Soccer AM/MW blog that Matt helps to run.
If you would like to contribute your own thoughts on your own team’s performance so far for a similar article in the near future, please fill out this short questionnaire.
Q1: Before the season started, where did you think Forest would finish?
Richard Keane: Second. A play-off place at worst.
Johnathan Sia: Champions.
Matt Turland: Top six, but fancied our chances of finishing in the automatic slots.
Mike Gibbs: At least a play-off position.
Q2: What do you think now?
RK: A play-off spot now looks more realistic.
MT: Despite only picking up a couple of points, I still think Forest will finish in the top six.
MG: The same – top six at least.
Q3: Have Forest performed above or below expectations so far? What has gone right/wrong?
RK: Well below expectations. Two points from a possible nine.
Out of the three games, two have been away and our dismal form on the road continues. Draws are obviously better than nothing, but if we are to be serious about an automatic promotion spot then we need to win away games against some of the weaker teams.
Reading and Burnley obviously don’t fall into this category. The draw at home to Leeds was disappointing, in terms of going ahead and then letting them get back into it, as we had plenty of chances to put the game out of sight. But they snuck a goal.
JS: Meets expectations due to the lack of signings. We need new blood desperately and seem to lack serious ambition.
MT: We’ve had a tough run at the start of the season and I expected us to get off the blocks slowly.
It took us eight games to record our first win last term and I had prepared myself for a similar start. I was a little disappointed we didn’t beat Leeds but there is still a long way to go and I’m not panicking. We’ve still got the best manager in the league so we stand a great chance of going up.
MG: Pre-season was poor, but the performances in the league have been encouraging. They are not quite there yet, but with a little luck Forest could have won the two games we drew.
The lack of new signings is a little worrying as we were the most proactive in the transfer market last year, but it is important to keep the club financially sound too.
Q4: What needs to change in order to achieve success this season?
RK: Every man and his dog knows our manager Billy Davies has been very vocal about his desire to get new players in. Without doubt, new signings would bolster what is one of the smallest in the division (in numbers, not height!)
JS: Ditch the transfer acquisitions panel [Forest chief executive Mark Arthur, “football consultant” David Pleat and chief scout Mark Burt work alongside Billy Davies to recruit players to the club, but it is widely reported that Davies is unhappy with the arrangement]. That’s done nought for the past year and only had one burst of signings in the last 3-4 years.
MT: Although we’ve got a few decent strikers, I can’t help but feel that this team lacks goals. It is what has cost us in the last two games. Had we had an out-and-out goal machine, we would have been a few goals up against Leeds before they got a foothold in the game and the same could be said of the Reading match.
We’ve been linked with Peter Whittingham and Darren Pratley but I don’t hold out much hope. We’ve got a good team but we still lack a little strength in depth. I trust the manager though. He knows what he’s doing. I just hope our fans don’t turn on him.
MG: A few new faces wouldn’t go amiss!
Q5: Who has impressed so far?
RK: I’m a massive fan of Paul Anderson. I genuinely think he can play in the Premier League and would love to see him there with us!
JS: Robert Earnshaw scored at Reading on Saturday and is still performing well after a good record in front of goal last season.
MT: Ryan Bertrand has looked a good signing. He played well for Reading last year and he has filled the void that Nicky Shorey left last year.
I haven’t had a chance to watch much football yet so I’m still in the dark over some teams but – and I’m going out on a limb here – Craig Bellamy looks like a good player.
MG: Our goalkeeper Lee Camp has to be in contention soon for an England call-up.
Q6: Who will win the league?
RK: Before the season started, you could pick between Forest, Boro and Burnley.
Now you have to think Cardiff, with the arrival of Craig Bellamy, are surely going to be there or thereabouts come next May. He will score plenty of goals and if their defence performs too, then Cardiff are going to be champs. Simple!
Turning to Forest, if we can pick up the signings the manager so desperately wants then it could well go down to the wire between Cardiff and ourselves. I think Bellamy will prove the difference come the end of the season though.
JS: Cardiff, now that they’ve got Craig Bellamy in – a world class striker.
MT: Middlesbrough because they’ve got a great squad, a great manager and a pocket full of dreams. Cardiff will do well if they can avoid a financial explosion, but I think Boro will have a glorious season.
MG: Early days. No-one has really impressed me yet.