Forest On The Up?
It appears that the tide may finally be turning on the banks of the River Trent, as Nottingham Forest begin to show signs of shaking off their 'fallen giants' tag and become upwardly mobile once again.
Forest struggled to adapt to their League One surroundings in their first season, many players seemingly unwilling to roll up their sleeves and battle their way out of a situation created by their own ineptitude in previous campaigns.
The 'Sven'-esque management skills of Gary Megson did little to help the club in the early part of that season, and by the time Ian McParland and Frank Barlow were handed the reins, Forest were already too far adrift to mount a serious promotion campaign.
So why is this season proving to be so different?
Colin Calderwood must take much of the praise for the club's reversal in fortunes since his arrival from Northampton in the summer. He has reignited the belief amongst the players and they appear to want to play for him, something which Megson never managed to achieve during his ill-fated spell in charge.
Forest have one of the biggest and strongest squads in the division but the players have not always managed to rise above the mediocre. This season, though, the players the club looks to in order to truly dominate teams have risen to the occasion and shown their undoubted class.
Players such as Kris Commons, Nicky Southall and the fit-again Nathan Tyson are all too good to be playing at this level, and at present are doing eveything in their power to ensure that Forest's flirtation with League One ends in May.
However, perhaps the most positive apsect to come out of the season so far is the fact that the team are managing to pick up points in games in which they haven't played particularly well. All succesful teams will admit that this is a useful habit to get into and will invariably result in a nice shiny trophy at the end of the campaign.
From their current perch at the top of the table it is difficult to see anyone catching them at the moment, especially as many of the clubs in the chasing pack continue to drop points on the odd occasions in which Forest fail to pick up maximum points.
A championship promotion party would then be nicley complemented by a trip to Cardiff, if the club can continue to make progress in the Johnstone's Paint Trophy. A League and Cup double would be an ideal way to put this disappointing chapter in the club's history to rest.
The real test, though, will come if promotion is achieved and how the management then prepare for a return to Championship football. The basis of the squad is in place, but Nigel Doherty must make funds available if the club is to make a realistic push for a return to the Premiership.
The life of a Forest fan has been a continuous roller-coaster of highs and lows over the past few years, so don't be surprised if the Reds do return to the promised land in the near future and take their rightful place back amongst football's elite.