Are Nottingham Forest the Championship’s biggest underachievers?

It has been a disappointing time in recent years for Nottingham Forest, especially when you consider the size of the club and the success it has previously enjoyed.

The last few seasons in particular have been poor, with the team not even challenging for the Championship play-off positions. But this season there was a lot of hope and expectation of a return to the Premier League. The appointment of Stuart Pearce and close to £10million spent on the squad, Forest became one of the favourites for promotion at the start of the season. After a very good start, which saw them in the top two after 10 matches, they have now slipped away greatly and the club are once again in mid-table, nine points from the play-offs.

It has been a very long time since two time European Champions Nottingham Forest last played in the Premier League. This was way back in 1999, where Forest finished bottom and have been on a downward spiral ever since. Years of mediocrity in the Championship followed until relegation to League One in 2005. They spent three years in the third tier before promotion to the Championship in 2008. Since returning, Forest have had two play-off defeats along with years of underachieving and mid-table mediocrity. This is simply not good enough for a club with such a decorated history, and even more concerning considering the amount of money spent in recent seasons.

Even if they were to make a miraculous push towards the play-offs in the second half of the season, this is been their biggest problem in the last several years. Since they were last in the Premier League, they have lost four play-off semi-final ties with three being in the Championship. But even getting to the play-offs seems way off this season.

Forest are currently seven matches without a win, including a poor defeat to Rochdale in the FA Cup. They have won just twice since September and this lack of form is extremely concerning, especially with the quality around the squad. The truth is just like last season, there have been plenty of injuries around but that shouldn’t be used as much of an excuse, although it does make a difference.

The likes of Andy Reid and captain Chris Cohen have missed the majority of the season and that has resulted in lacklustre performances ever since. At the back, Jack Hobbs has been injured for the past four months, which is arguably the reason why Forest have been leaking a lot of goals recently. He returned against Rochdale, which might just give them a boost to now push on with a tighter defence.

Adding to that, hey have lacked real determination, been too soft with teams and are clearly very low on confidence. This could be down to the fact Cohen and Reid have been absent, leaving the team without leadership in the middle of the park.

There is still quality in the squad to perhaps turn things round, though. Five million summer arrival striker Britt Assombalonga has impressed, scoring 13 goals and proving to be a top striker at this level. Another summer signing, Michail Antonio, has also impressed with nine goals so far this season. Then there are the likes of Michael Mancienne who has Premier League experience, plus also Karl Darlow and Jamaal Lascelles who returned from Newcastle on loan.

With all this being said, it is only Stuart Pearce’s first season in charge so he will need time to continue building his squad, but owner Fawaz Al-Hasawi isn’t a man known for his patience.