Words: Steve Wright
Just as the end to last season could not come quickly enough, so the beginning of this upcoming one is hotly anticipated. It is normal that football fans bounce back from disappointment quickly and by the following summer are once again full of optimism, but for Forest fans that good feeling is built on something more tangible than usual. The departure of Fawaz Al-Hasawi, who as owner oversaw a bleak period of rudderless ownership, lifted a cloud from the club that has since been well and truly blown away by positive noises and action from his replacements.
Whilst Evangelos Marinakis and Sokratis Kominakis have yet to be seen around the City Ground they have made some senior appointments that have impressed. New Chairman Nicholas Randall in particular has quickly set out a positive vision for the club’s future and engaged with the opinions of supporters. In return Forest fans have bought season tickets in record numbers, taking up the offer of a 10% reduction in prices, with reportedly a quarter of those sales being to new or lapsed fans.
In addition Mark Warburton and Frank McParland continue to run the football side of things and have themselves made some promising moves with the signings of Jason Cummings and Barrie McKay, both Scotland under 21 internationals brimming with potential and possessing a hunger to develop and succeed that all Championship fans want to see from their players. Over the last five years there has been a conveyor belt of new players (and managers) arriving each season with no cohesive recruitment strategy and as a result money has been wasted, the squad is imbalanced and Financial Fair Play (FFP) has bitten. Hopefully those days are over.
Whilst positivity abounds it is important that it is also managed. On his appointment Randall described the club as in “intensive care” and “not fit for purpose” and few fans would disagree with that sentiment, so it seems fair to say that patience is needed to turn things around. Forest is definitely in a better place than it was only a couple of months ago and fans are right to be looking forward with smiles and enthusiasm, but we also need to build on the unity and realism that has grown in adversity over the last year.
The boost in season ticket sales will hopefully underpin strong attendances and that needs to be converted into a positive atmosphere in which our players can express themselves and develop. Whilst a relegation battle will always be inconsistent Mark Warburton teased some fabulous football out of his inherited squad at the end of last season, most notably against Huddersfield and Brighton, and we should give the players space in which to be creative and brave in possession without fear of groaning and criticism from the stands. At times the City Ground has been known for a crowd that is quick to turn but this season let’s transform that view to become a place that backs its team from the first whistle to the last.
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