Oh how you red dogs are already wanting to shoot me down for even bringing this up in a headline. It made you look though, clickbait is the word, you can thank Sport Bible, Lad Bible, Givemesport and all those other infuriating websites where each paragraph is separated by a Google ad for something your other half once looked at whilst using your iPhone! That’s the sponsors out the way…
What started as a transfer window of promise, obliterated into absolute carnage. And it’s still going… Forest fans on Twitter often making it up by the hour, and half of it would come true.
The rumours started pretty much as soon as the first train left Wembley Parkway on the night of the playoff final v Huddy, fans would immediately start to ponder on potential targets. Eyeing up those from the likes of Burnley, Norwich and Watford who came down in the opposite direction.
It was soon apparent that the club had bigger fish to catch than pitiful relegation fodder… The Marinakis scouting network supposedly big in Germany. Taiwo Awoniyi the first through the door, a cool £17m plus to become Reds record signing. A statement of intent, capturing a striker who last season netted 15 Bundesliga goals for Union Berlin.
Throw in a swerve ball that much-loved goalkeeper Brice Samba dare ask for a pay rise upon promotion. That wasn’t granted and on his way he went, suddenly talks of England Internationals Nick Pope and Dean Henderson arose to replace him, the latter loaned in from Manchester United on huge money, utility man Giulian Biancone shortly after, heading in from Troyes in France, left back Omar Richards from Bayern Munich, centre half Moussa Niakhate from Mainz and right back Neco Williams from Liverpool would follow, the Reds building ambitiously and catching the eye of not just those in England, but in Europe and the world too.
It was all going nicely, adding the bits and bobs needed to replace the departing loanees, Forest after all, needed a good seven or eight signings to strengthen on last season, with the likes of Djed Spence, James Garner and Keinan Davis needed to be swapped for permanent models… People got it, fans of other clubs started to ponder whether Forest could even break the top ten, the little old Reds who’ve been gone so long, much missed, much loved, soon to be everyone’s second favourite club again…
Then came Jesse Lingard…
Murmurs that Forest dare snatch him away from the jaws of West Ham United were gelatinous, media slandering big money thrown at a player who’d invariably tossed it for his last year at Manchester United, it seemed everyone had an opinion, and not many on the side of Forest…
The £200k a week club came knocking, ‘he’s only joining for the money’ despite those rumours far-fetched, the signing of Lingard seemingly infuriating the football world… How dare this recently promoted club take from West Ham, one who’s frequently pushing from just outside to get into the ‘big six’. I still wonder if West Ham even made Lingard an offer in the first place?
The Lingard transfer, it’s fair to say, turned Nottingham Forest into circus for a good couple of weeks, as ‘JLINGZ’ and his social repertoire took centre stage, the Reds on one hand, commended by the expert minority for their ambition, on the other, disgruntled by the uneducated masses for their ludicrous ‘buy anybody’ policy… Never mind the inevitable questions of whether Lingard is ‘up for the challenge’ of what small provincial football clubs can offer a social superstar like him.
What followed (amongst #jlingzgate) was an almost daily dose of twitter touting tons of new players that were coming to the City Ground… By the time the first match of the season against Newcastle United did come around on Saturday, there was some relief, that we could finally just talk about football.
As well as Lingard, Forest captured Lewis O’Brien and Harry Toffolo from Huddersfield Town who the Reds pipped to the Premier League post… Welsh International Wayne Hennesey joined as back up goalkeeper from Burnley and exciting midfielder Orel Mangala became the clubs fourth Bundesliga capture from Stuttgart.
In all twelve players signed, that’s if you include 19-year-old Costa Rican Brandon Aguilera who was instantly loaned to Guanacasteca in his home nation, whilst a significant, similar number left, some on loan, some out of contract, some not wanting to renew their contract, the scattergun approach from those that don’t know the ins and outs will of course stir headlines, but it cannot be further from the truth once the finer details are looked into.
But that’s not to say the hierarchy need to calm it down a little either. If you fast forward to Saturday gone, the opening match of the season and one in which it’s fair to say Nottingham Forest where outplayed in, against a very strong Newcastle United all be it, who we expect will finish somewhere near the middle of the Premier League table this season. The result might have been expected, the performance however was disappointing, and whilst a famous man once said, he wasn’t on the job to build Rome in a day, those who understand football will understand that building teams takes time, even despite the Steve Cooper magic effect that lifted the club from the bottom of the Championship table last year to the top flight of English football, Cooper now needs more time to work more magic on getting his current crop to speed with the world’s toughest domestic competition.
The rumours continue though, Forest concerned by an injury to Omar Richards, concerned too that Harry Toffolo, who looks like a make-weight in the Lewis O’Brien transfer, is not good enough at left wing back, which reminds me, a friend of mine likened him to that of Stuart Pearce in the Ian Butterworth joint transfer from Coventry City in 1985, folklore states that Brian Clough was happy to take on the left back as he needed some plug sockets fitting, Pearce went on of course to play 78 times for England and appeared in over 500 matches for the Reds, Butterworth lasted a season before being sold to Norwich. Let’s not right off the Toff just yet.
The concern now however, is that Forest linked with too many players, have had bids accepted, but players have rejected. Perhaps wising up to this team from middle England, trying to sign their way out of desperate potential trouble?
Alex Moreno of Real Betis said no to leaving sunny Andalucía for Nottingham, Fiorentina captain Christiano Biraghi is not interested either, La Viola rejecting a cheeky £6m bid for their all-important left-sider. Not that the Italian international would have even tolerated it.
Maxwell Cornet is another who rejected Forest’s ambition for instead playing in Europe, joining West Ham United from Burnley and the mouth-watering Europa Conference. Others have followed similar paths like Amadou Onana moving to a more established Premier League side in Everton (debatable perhaps), whilst the saga of the summer, Morgan Gibbs White, has left many fans bewildered on the values of modern-day footballers.
There comes a time when enough is enough, the initial approach for Gibbs-White, who was brilliant on loan at Sheffield United in the Championship last season, £15m, a perhaps worthy gamble for one who’s potential is undoubted but who’s hardly kicked a Premier League ball… When Wolves said no, Forest upped to over £20m, when Wolves said no again, Forest upped to £40m… Which incidentally is only £5m less than what Arsenal paid for Gabriel Jesus from Manchester City, is £12m less than what Manchester City paid Borussia Dortmund for Erling Haaland, and is £23m more than what Aston Villa paid for Brazilian international Phillipe Coutinho from Barcelona. Now we start to see signs of scattering desperation.
These signs of worry now highlighted more by Saturday’s performance, whilst it’s not quite ‘panic button’ yet, a couple more negative results and performances and you wonder where the club might look next? This last week alone, I name Houssem Aouar, Jizz Hornkamp, Bamba Dieng, Emmanuel Dennis, Che Adams, Andrea Pinamonte, Remo Freuler, Chiekhou Kouyate, Goncalo Ramos, Cody Gakpo, Said Benrahma, Yusuf Yazicki, Emerson Palmieri, Pervis Estupinan, Javi Galan and the permanent return of James Garner as potential transfer targets, the twittersphere continues to speculate with more names than the yellow pages, I wonder how many more will be rumoured, before this market finally shuts, so we can all at least then concentrate on the football, and getting back to supporting a team we can be proud of in the Premier League.
*Article provided by Daniel Peacock (Editor).
*Main image @NFFC Harry Toffolo & Dean Henderson are two players signed this summer.