Will stories on or off the pitch be the focus this season?…
Last season promised so much but ultimately delivered so little for Nottingham Forest last season as they flattered to deceive in their bid to finish in at least a play-off position. The return of Billy Davies the season before last had brought about an upturn in form and expectations were high they would finish at least sixth last campaign. The season started very well for them as they suffered just one defeat in their first 12 games and sat comfortably in the top four. They continued their good form over the Christmas period and in mid-February sat 4th in the table having gone 14 games unbeaten in the league. However, off the field their were problems at the club. There was a constant clash over money between the board and the manager throughout the January period which saw Billy Davies hint that his team would not be strong enough to keep up their promotion push. Davies himself was causing problems too. His touchline antics, behaviour towards match officials and refusal to speak to the media all contributed to an uneasy feel about the club. And when results went badly during the last period of the season, 12 games without a win, Davies lost his job after a humiliating 5-0 thrashing at local rivals Derby. Gary Brazil took the team until the end of the season but they could not recover their early season form and finished in a disappointing 10th.
Nottingham Forest have offered a career lifeline to Stuart Pearce in many ways by appointing him as manager this summer. Well known for his illustrious playing career, Pearce’s career as a manager has rather stalled after his stint with England-U21s which ended in dismissal after a disastrous 2013 European Championship campaign. An indifferent spell as Manchester City manager eight years ago is his only club managerial experience. You feel he has been appointed as much for his previous connection to the club than for his managerial ability.
In: Danny Fox (Southampton), Matty Fryatt (Hull City), Lars Veldwijk (Excelsior), Roger Riera (Barcelona), Michael Mancienne (Hamburg), Chris Burke (Birmingham City)
Loans In: Jack Hunt (Crystal Palace)
Out: Matt Derbyshire (Rotherham Utd), Marcus Tudgay (Coventry City), Darius Henderson (Leyton Orient), Ishmael Miller (Blackpool), Jonathan Greening, Guy Moussi, Simon Gillett, Gonzalo Jara (Released)
Loans Out: Radoslaw Majewski (Huddersfield Town)
Forest have lost a lot of experience this summer although on paper they still have a very strong squad even if it is a bit thinner than last season. They do however have a manager who has a lot of questions to answer throughout the season. He looks to already have been undermined by the board with news that deals for Karl Darlow and Jamaal Lascelles to Newcastle had been done behind Pearce’s back. If off the field stories dominate the club this season then I don’t fancy their chances of being successful on the field.