Nottingham Forest are historically one of the biggest clubs in English football. First Division winners in 1977/78, twice FA Cup winners, four-time League Cup winners and twice European Cup winners is certainly not an honours list that one would associate with a mid-table Championship side.
Unfortunately that is exactly what the club are right now, having finished 17th in England’s second tier last season.
At the start of the summer though there were signs of hope for the long-suffering Reds fans who remember the glory days. Spanish boss Aitor Karanka, who arrived in January this year, used his links with his former agent Jorge Mendes to secure the signings of Benfica duo Joao Carvalho and Diogo Goncalves, and Portuguese winger Gil Dias on loan from French side AS Monaco.
There is no doubt that these three bring quality to the Championship and record signing Goncalves has begun to show just why the Forest hierarchy spent £13.2m on an unproven 21-year-old. However Karanka, who had already made 10 signings in his first transfer window in January, brought in 14 more players over the summer – an approach that leaves him with an almost impossible job to keep everyone happy and to bed everyone in to the club.
Famously, Mendes has had a strong influence at Wolves over the past two seasons and with his client Nuno Espirito Santo managing the side they have reached the Premier League and started well thanks to their impressive Portuguese contingent.
Forest clearly saw this and jumped at the chance to work with Mendes, but things haven’t quite gone as smoothly for the City Ground outfit. The main problem for Karanka is although some of the signings are impressive, a good portion of them are simply not good enough to push the club to promotion from one of the most difficult leagues in world football.
Claudio Yacob, Michael Dawson and Jack Robinson all arrived on free transfers and it could be argued that none will be good enough to get a start so their wages could be better used elsewhere, and the same could be said for former Wigan man Ben Watson who joined in February.
Adding 27 new players to a squad within the space of six months is ludicrous and will not provide the short-term success that some at Forest must be hoping for. If Karanka is given time to work with this group of players for a couple of years, with one or two signings per window, then there could be something good to come at the City Ground.
This season though with all the new faces, despite the reasonable start for Forest, it will be a huge task for everyone to adapt quickly enough for a promotion push. It could well be another season of mid-table mediocrity for the Reds.
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