Will The Forest Fire Be Reignited?
Last season ended on a remarkably low note for Forest, with 'that' game sure to live long in the memory. But things have looked up ever since.
News that Celtic captain Neil Lennon was interested in joining the club had leaked into the press a long time before the contracts were signed - Colin Calderwood travelling to Portugal to seal the deal. Having captained his former team Celtic in the Champions League Quarter Finals earlier this year, his experience will no doubt help Forest in their quest for League One glory, as well as give the youngsters someone to look up to, with Lennon being regarded by many as the model professional.
Probably the most exciting news to come out of Trentside in a long time, was that of plans for a Super Stadium. It would be the biggest stadium in the East Midlands, and capable of catering for up to 50,000 people. Despite the fact that 2014 is the earliest the stadium would be ready, the vibes coming from The City Ground were all positive. ''With a capacity of 45,000 to 50,000, if the World Cup were to come to England in 2018 or 2022, then this would be a stadium worthy of staging World Cup matches.' International matches in Nottingham brings back memories of Euro 96, but a World Cup, who'd have thought a League One club would host World Cup matches? Chief Executive Mark Arthur quickly stated that any financial backing for this new stadium wouldn't affect transfer budgets and the playing side, as the stadium will be used by a Premiership club, that club being Nottingham Forest.
After the Neil Lennon signing, Colin Calderwood had stated that there were more signings to come, and that he hoped that the signing of Lennon would persuade Kris Commons to stay at the club and sign a new contract. Thankfully for the Reds, it did, and the signature of Kris Commons has been largely treated with the happiness of a new signing. Forest were still lacking the depth in the squad though, and Calderwood was still looking. He didn't have to look to far back in his mind however, after seeing how Arron Davies tore the Forest defence apart on numerous occasions back in May, and after Yeovil lost the play-off final, who better to sign than Davies himself? Also to be joined by his team mate and - if the press is to be believed - long-term target Chris Cohen.
The defence still looked a bit weak, and as Arron Davies showed everyone, it needed to be improved. Monsieur Calderwood decided that Kelvin Wilson - the former Notts County player - would be a great addition to the squad. He agreed, and so did the fans, as Forest fans welcomed one of their own to The City Ground from Preston. Wilson can play at right back or centre back, and his versatility will help the team throughout the season in which injuries will no doubt be sustained. Also to join, to replace Alan Wright who returned to Sheffield Utd over the summer, was Leyton Orient fan favourite Matt Lockwood. The left back was out of contract, and due to sign a new deal with Orient, but when he heard of Forest's interest, he was only heading in one direction.
The pre-season has been largely affected by injuries. Strikers Nathan Tyson and Junior Agogo both missed the majority - if not all - of pre season with knee and pelvis injuries respectively. The same applied for Chris Cohen, who was still recovering from a groin operation when he signed. Good news for Forest was that Agogo and Cohen both had some part in the last pre-season game of the season away at Sheffield Utd, and both may be involved this weekend against Bournemouth. Arron Davies, Ian Breckin (missing his first league game for Forest since joining), Lewis McGugan and James Perch are all doubtful for the season opener, along with Cohen and Agogo, Tyson is definitly ruled out.
46 matches to go then, and the race for the Championship is on. The first line up of the season is going to look depleted, but a win in these very difficult circumstances will only help the players' and the fans' confidence in promotion.