At the City Ground, Nottingham Forest have beaten Leeds, Newcastle, Huddersfield and Brighton. All these four clubs are in the top five of the Championship. In fact, the only teams in the top five they haven’t beaten at home is Reading, and that is because they are yet to play them at the City Ground. But this past week, they have lost at home to relegation-threatened Blackburn, which will also hurt Forest’s chances of staying up. To deny that Forest are in a dogfight to stay up is to be ignorant, it’s happening and Forest fans will have to prepare themselves for a hard end to the season.
You can pinpoint Forest’s issues to a few key factors, and many fans have been very vocal about these issues over the 2016-17 campaign. The main one is Fawaz Al-Hasawi, for me, he seems like a chairman who has only just started to get an idea of what it is to run a football club. Never having placed trust in a manager for a full season, he has hacked his way through a plethora of managers. That being said, he seems to be getting a bit more ‘clued up’ about NFFC, hiring key backroom staff such as a Director of Football and Chief Financial Officer but are yet to appoint a proper Chief Executive, a post that has been lacking a candidate for over a year.
Another factor is the vast amounts of managers the club has gone through. As I stated previously, Nottingham Forest, during Al-Hasawi’s duration as owner, chairman, and director, have never had a manager for a full season of football, the closest being Dougie Freedman who went from February 2015 to March 2016. Now if you’re a lifelong Forest fan, you’d have most likely heard this quote; ‘If a Chairman sacks the manager he initially appointed, he should go as well’. That quote is from Brian Clough. If you don’t know that name, you should not be reading this post, and you should not consider yourself a football fan. If Ol’Big Head were still around today, I reckon his opinion on Mr. Al Hasawi would be the same as many fans, and would go along with that quote above. Unfortunately, Mr. Clough is not here today, but the fans are just a vocal as he could ever be. Now is the time to trust in your appointment, knee-jerk decisions aren’t going to get Forest anywhere, they need a bit of stability and that could mean going down a league for the club to realise it. They have to trust in Mark Warburton now to not only keep them up but to build a team that he can play.
Another factor is one that Forest have had an issue with for a while now. Defence. Forest have conceded the second-highest amount of goals in the Championship. Only already relegated Rotherham have conceded less and they have conceded over 90 goals which is a tough tally to beat. Still, Forest have scored over 50 goals, which puts them in the same bracket as the promotion contenders in terms of firing goals in. Injuries have hampered their goalkeepers and a few key defenders like Pinillos and Lichaj, but Forest’s main target point for transfers, provided they remain at Championship level is to sign some high-quality defenders.
Forest are now part of the relegation dog fight. Something befitting of the team’s performances this season. They have not performed like they were expected to in some matches and have massively overperformed in others. Now is the time for the Forest squad to step up and show their worth as a team, No-one wants to see a club steeped in so much history fall into the third tier of English football (apart from Derby Fans).