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Mark Warburton’s Nottingham Forest, who were perilously close to relegation from the second tier last season, have made a decent start this time around and currently sit sixth in the Championship table with 9 points from 5 games.
Is promotion a realistic possibility for the former European champions though? I would doubt it to be honest, though I’m sure they will manage to outdo their last season’s performance.
The first thing to look at is their transfer strategy. Incomings such as Daryl Murphy, Barrie McKay and Liam Bridcutt look good value if you are in a glass half-full sort of mood, but frankly, those cheap signings are cheap for a reason and as admirable as Murphy is for example, he cannot compare to the striker he is replacing – Britt Assombalonga.
The Congolese striker is the only key departure from the playing squad and so on the face of it, that is not too bad. However, they obviously needed far more quality coming in than what they have managed to attract. If you compare their transfer business with that of Wolverhampton Wanderers’ or even Leeds United’s, you can see how weak it looks.
In terms of the betting odds – not always accurate of course – Forest find themselves around 11th in the list and that is after their encouraging start. Expected names such as Wolves, Middlesbrough, Leeds, Fulham and Derby are above them in the pecking order but the upper list now includes fast starters Cardiff City, who look better equipped for the season than Forest.
Throw in Villa, Sheff Wed and Norwich and you can start seeing how competitive this league is going to be and how hard it will be for Forest to get even a play-off place, let alone creep up into a top-two finish.
Another pointer to Forest’s chances would be the overall transfer value of their squad. Although markets fluctuate, the current values of the top clubs in the Championship seem at least fairly accurate, with Aston Villa, Middlesbrough, Sunderland and Wolves up at the top.
Clubs like Hull City, Sheff Wed, Derby, Fulham, Norwich, Reading, QPR, Leeds, Birmingham, Cardiff and Brentford are ALL above Nottingham Forest in terms of value and that has to be pretty depressing for Tricky Trees fans.
All things considered, I find it hard to believe Nottingham Forest will find themselves in the top six this time around and in fact, they could end up struggling once they play most of the big boys at least once.