Nottingham Forest 2019-20 Season So Far

Nottingham Forest are set to recommence their Championship campaign shortly at Sheffield Wednesday, so Gabriel Sutton spoke to five lifelong reds. Jess Beasley (@nffcjessx), Sam Randall (SR1two8), Peter Walker (@woolly80), Ryan Wise (@ryanwise94) and Patrick O’Kane (@sportingpat) all offer their views.

You’ve likely attained your first top six finish since 2010-11, finishing above Derby County in the process. Do you see this as a progressive campaign?

Jess: I do yes. It’s been plenty more positive that what we’ve seen in previous seasons, not just on the pitch, but off of it as well. I think for the first time in a long time the fans, manager, owners and players seem to be on the right page which has been a huge leap forward. When you compare this to 4/5 years ago, we’re almost unrecognisable as a club. It certainly feels a lot different when attending games. There’s still work to do on the pitch, a bit inconsistent at times and dropping too many points against teams that (on paper) we should see off.

Sam: A well-worded question, it could yet be a successful campaign, but the manner in which the results have been achieved doesn’t suggest a progressive or sustainable style that would guarantee success again next season.

Peter: Yes definitely. Maybe the style of play hasn’t exactly been the most exciting but there’s a genuine acceptance that we’re on our way back up after the Fawaz years.

Ryan: It is definitely a work in progress. We have improved the last couple of seasons and if we do not go up this year we will have a good chance next year.

Pat: Completely. We finished last season in ninth place and some eight points off the play offs. If the season concludes, it could still go one of two ways. Apart from our first two games (WBA and Leeds) we generally had a good start but we have games against Fuham and Swansea still outstanding. Whatever happens though, we (fingers crossed) should still finish above ‘Wayne Rooney’s Derby County’, which always makes for a good end to a season.

There was some external scepticism regarding the appointment Sabri Lamouchi, just 19 minutes after Martin O’Neill was sacked in early pre-season training. Are you impressed with the job he has done?

Jess: Nothing against MON as a player or the status he has at our club, but his appointment came 15 years too late. He wasn’t the right man for the job and the longer he stayed the more his good name would be tarnished. I was pleased when he was sacked, not out of spite, but for his reputation. We weren’t playing good football and he had a training/playing vision (although not as well executed) as Brian Clough.

Understandable due to playing under him and his achievements, but a style that sadly doesn’t suit modern football.

The appointment immediately after was another “oh here we go again” moment. But overall I am really pleased with the statement he’s made and the togetherness the fans have behind him. He’s likeable and takes defeat as a personal failure. The players seem to want to play under him as well which can only be a plus.

Sam: Yes, a good job given the minimal expectations beforehand. The way the defence was sorted was impressive and has been the backbone.

Peter: Maybe his style of play isn’t the most exciting but he’s working with a large squad of players that he didn’t bring in. His signings have been astute and there have been glimpses of a more proactive approach. Maybe he has been working on getting the basics right. Our best manager since Hart.

Ryan: Lamouchi has done a fantastic job. Nobody knew what to expect but given the last few foreign managers I.e montanier, I have been pleasantly surprised.

Pat: To be fair, I think there was also internal scepticism. Having got rid of Karanka earlier in the season (Still think we did that a bit prematurely), we became a laughing stock when hiring a relatively unknown manager less than 20 minutes after giving club legend O’Neill the boot. He is quite possibly the best thing to happen to Forest since sliced bread, or the days of Stan Collymore.

How do you feel about the running of the club? Is owner Evangelos Marinakis trustworthy and do you have faith in Chairman Nicolas Randall to make the correct decisions?

Jess: He’s made some questionable decisions, that along with his more personal/business life which is regular news, and let’s be fair, not great news i.e. supposed drug dealing and money laundering etc. But they appear to have the best interests of the club at heart. The stadium development rather than relocation to maintain The City Ground, their idea of fans being the true backbone of the club and of course their aspirations of Premier League football, they’re the things us fans always want to hear no matter who you support. Whether there’s 100% trust there is hard to say; I don’t think I’ll trust many chairmen after the Fawaz saga, and seeing the absolute destruction across many football clubs from incompetent running. However, their reputation and success at Olympiacos speaks for something, so we’ll just have to wait and see.

Sam: My view of these ‘regimes’ is it is going well until it isn’t. Marinakis is totally different to Fawaz in that he has overseen success in the game before so knows what to do, but I am sure he will take no prisoners along the way and the plan won’t involve small steps for too long.

Peter: Well it’s being run properly. Our owner clearly loves football and although his first love is obviously Olympiakos, he’s astute enough to know that the real money is in English football. I’m cautiously excited about how the future will unfold. His main fault is being too quick to sack managers, his biggest mistake was getting rid of Karanka and falling for the misty eyed appointment of MON dinosaur. At least he rectified it last summer.

Ryan: Marinakis has put the fans at the forefront and for the 1st time in a long time I feel truly connected to the club.  Nick Randall is a safe pair of hands and it finally feels like we are being run properly.

Pat: Now that we have escaped the clutches of Fawaz, the club is definitely getting back on it’s feet, and not just on the pitch. I would like to see some smarter purchases, get rid of a bustling squad with players who are effectively just taking a wage, and get some stability in place. Marinakis wants instant success – as can be seen with several swift managerial departures – but that doesn’t generally happen in England. I trust that he has our interests in the right place but it would be remiss to think that at any point, some of his shadier dealings could come to light and end up seeing Forest get burnt.

There seems to be two schools of thought on Brice Samba: the first being that he’s an excellent shot stopper and therefore among the best in the Championship, the second being that he’s perhaps a touch erratic at times. Which side of the fence are you on?

Jess: I’m very much on the side of excellent shot stopper. I can see why people would think he’s a bit erratic, but I think that’s because he’s so damn calm all of the time. The way he collects the ball, allows defenders to get a little too close- he acts like it’s the easiest thing in the world. I’ve always had this idea oh his deep voice going “no worries man” every time he cuts it a bit fine. As a Forest fan however, many years of stupidity, silly mistakes and goalkeeper catastrophes, we’re definitely not on the calm side haha.

Sam: Perhaps he has got away with a few unorthodox behavours and techniques, but erratic suggests excitable or unpredictable and his main attribute is actually his incredible calmness. He has restored a lot of confidence to the defence.

Peter: Absolutely nuts. Absolutely brilliant. Should be playing for a PL team.

Ryan: Brice Samba is a very good goalkeeper and certainly fills you with confidence.  He can be erratic but his personality sometimes protects him from deserved criticism at times.

Pat: If Lamouchi was the best thing since sliced bread, then Samba is the butter and jam on top that I just can’t get enough of. Brice has quickly established himself as a fans favourite, not only for his on-field antics, but also his personality and interactions on social media and around the ground.. What keeper isn’t prone to an error after all. In Samba, we have probably found our best keeper in maybe 20 years. If all around him have fallen asleep, you still think there’s a chance we won’t concede. I maintain he’s done more good than bad, and given that he came in as a sidekick to Arto Muric, there’s not really much more that needs to be said.

Converting Matty Cash from a winger into a right-back was a masterstroke – his qualities look more applicable in the modern game as a right-back than as a winger. Who do you think deserves credit for that transformation?

Jess: I’ll admit in preseason when Cash was played at RB I had a proper ‘facepalm’ reaction, especially considering we’d not heard of Sabri or his managing techniques. I remember it being a massive debate of “why? And how?”

How wrong we all were. It is the exact definition of a masterstroke. I think Sabri deserves recognition for giving Cash the confidence and the chance to play there, but Cash himself deserves every plaudit he gets. As a winger he often seemed bullied and a little weak on the ball, skilful yes, strong? Not really. He’s got himself fit and strengthened his game- he is without a doubt an incredible talent. So overall I think he deserves the credit for stepping up the mark like that.

Sam: An interesting player and, as you say, many of the attributes to go all the way as a wing back. Lamouchi should take the credit for utilising Cash’s physical attributes in this way, but i wonder also if it was partly due to necessity due to a lack of right backs, and the one flaw he has is his quality isn’t really up to it when it comes to crossing. He’ll need to work on that a lot to be a premier league player in that role.

Peter: Obviously SL. Shows how good a manager he can be.

Ryan: Matty Cash has been a revelation.  I left the West Brom game at the start of the season saying, Cash is not a right back and we are going to struggle. He has proved me wrong and you have to say it is down to Cash and the coaches that have helped him grow into the role.

Pat: As much as O’Neill’s managerial spell at Forest didn’t really get going, this is one of his shining legacies. Cash was drafted into the right back position in the final throes of the season and by the time Lamouchi named his first side for the 2019/2020 campaign, Cashy was a permanent fixture in the position. I think Cash himself has also upped his game. He no longer gets lost like he used to and has definitely settled into a more professional player, both on and off the pitch.

The other full-back position has been less clear cut, with four different players performing at left-back – neither Jack Robinson, Yuri Ribeiro, Chema Rodríguez nor Gaetan Bong possess Cash’s pace, though I suppose Ribeiro has a bit of intelligence in his forward movement. How do you assess that area for next season?

Jess: Yuri is personally the best option at LB for me. Robinson has his on and off days, Chema has his moments, but Yuri for me has been the most consistent. Our LB won’t seem as good because Cash always shines on the right, but as a steady defender and decent on the ball, Ribeiro takes my vote.

Sam: With Robinson and Rodriguez moved on, there is definitely something needed to fill the left-back slot, Riberio does have good pace and was value for money at a cheap price but i’d rather see him as a back up. Bong’s horror debut doesn’t bear talking about and he is on a two-year deal. There was no way he could really be used again at the City Ground this season such was the negative reaction to a dismal debut effort, but games behind closed doors could prove the key to establishing himself at the club.

Peter: Well Jack saw the money and Forest saw the fact he’d have gone for nothing this summer. Ribeiro probably front runner but yes it’s an area of concern.

Ryan: For me, Ribeiro was growing into that role and has been very good the last few months before the season stopped.  I think it depends what league we ate in as to how I would proceed.  He is a steady left back but is he prem quality? I’m not too sure.  Bong was awful on his debut but I may be harsh in writing him off already.

Pat: Robinson left for Sheff Utd in January and Chema headed off to Spain in the same transfer window, so I do think we are lacking a bit in that zone. Ribeiro is one of my favourite players. As you say, he sometimes gets caught out, but when Sow or Watson get the ball in the middle of the pitch, you know Yuri will be bombing down the outside for an overlap. His first time crosses are exemplary though and we just need to have that little bit more in the final third to secure results. Ribeiro has the position in the bag though, while we haven’t seen much from Bong yet, so hard to assess where exactly he will slot in.

Michael Dawson, I imagine, can struggle to start twice a week these days. Are you glad that Lamouchi has been able to rotate him with a very competent Championship centre-back in Tobias Figuieredo?

Jess: Extremely glad. With Dawson it’s not necessarily his on pitch position that makes him a good captain and a strong leader, it’s his general presence. Many of our bench cams see him shouting instructions, over animated, encouraging the team, celebrating like a fan. That find of personality is needed in the dressing room regardless of how often they start. I’m sure he’s just seeing off his career to hopefully remain at Forest in a support role. As a defender, he has still got it, but exactly as you said, not as much stamina with his age. Figs on the other hand, although not the finesse maybe of Dawson is an excellent defender, strong and not afraid to put his foot in. I have no doubt that having the experience of Dawson around only improves his game too.

Sam: Yes, that has worked out ideally really. Even if Dawson was able to play more I would suspect Tobias is at least as high up in the pecking order with the manager as Dawson on current ability anyway, but Dawson has undoubted dressing room presence and is good to have around.

Peter: He is just one of those seasoned pros who will help as much off the pitch as when he is on it. I hope he becomes a player-coach and eventually a coach as he clearly loves the club.

Ryan: As much as I like Dawson, it is time to hang up the boots and become a coach. Figureido is a solid replacement.

Pat: Unfortunately Daws won’t carry on forever. If we have nothing else from him going into next season, we are left with a side instilled with his passion for football, and for Nottingham Forest. It is evident all the players have a real passion to play for our club and it is the most united set of players I have seen in a long time. They just seem to gel. Figuieredo is a player that seems to be growing in confidence at the City Ground. He has needed time to bed in but one who can certainly take Daws place in the centre and give Samba the assurance that his defence is solid in front of him.

Joe Worrall, though, has started all 37 league games. You must be delighted to have tied him down to a long-term contract four months ago?

Jess: Absolutely. It’s always great to see a Forest fan and academy graduate make their stamp at their home club. I wasn’t entirely sure on him to begin with a couple of seasons ago. He was too heavily relied on, but (probably because he supports Forest) had the issue of almost trying too hard to make an impression. He left his position wide open, went in too hard. Since his loan at Rangers, he’s a new man, a shadow of a young Dawson. I’m delighted that he’s doing well for Forest, but also delighted that he’s done it for himself.

Sam: I didn’t think he’d make it at Forest. Old school centre half attributes ideal for league one would have been assessement before he headed off to Rangers on loan and he made errors in Scotland, but that undoubtedly improved his competency on the ball and he is quite mobile now. He’s a good Championship defender.

Peter: Him and Cash are our most saleable assets to it illustrates how much better we are run these days that both are on long term contracts. Fawaz would have left them both run out. Now we will sell them for huge profits. Both will play for PL club if not ourselves in the v near future.

Ryan: Joe Worrall has been a rock. Another who has surprised me. If it wasn’t for Cash performing like he has Worrall would be my Player of the Season so far.

Pat: When Joe went off to Rangers on loan, I was concerned we wouldn’t see him in the Garibaldi red again. He has so much talent, and even though it took him a while to gel at Ibrox, they were gutted to lose him when he returned home. You can see why! One of the first names on Lamouchi’s team sheet, Worrall can drive Forest to the Premier League, if not this season, then hopefully in the next campaign.

Ben Watson is also an ever-present and many Forest fans consider him a Player of the Season contender. Would you say it is his defensive awareness, improved passing range and consistency that have made him one of your top performers?

Jess: If you’d have said to me at the end of last season that Watson was going to be POTS contender I would have laughed. He is another player who seems to be thriving under Sabri and he’s definitely our most improved from last season. He is consistent and defensively aware, but I again I also think it’s his hardness and good hold up play that makes him a good threat. I always say there’s 3 things certain in life, deaths, taxes and Watson getting carded. That would usually be a hinderance, but he throws himself into challenges and shakes up the opposition midfield.

Sam: Passing range has been good this season. No one would have expected him to play so much this season but Lamouchi built the side around him and he’s another reason the defensive side has stood up better this season. But is that to the detriment of the dynamism of the team going forward?

Peter: Yes plus his off the field attributes.

Ryan: I think Watson has done so well because he has had Sow next to him who gives him that time on the ball and takes some pressure away. When Sow hasnt played Watson hasn’t done well.

Pat: Watson has been a revelation under Lamouchi. I used to have the odd moan and groan when his name would be on the starting sheet but he is a player reborn under Sabri. He’s been in promotion battles before and won the FA Cup with Wigan. He has the nous to know what is required and he’s got key communication in the centre of the pitch. He maybe doesn’t have the pace required for the Championship any more but he brings so much more to the team than that.

Samba Sow would surely join Watson as a POTS contender had he stayed fit for longer – you’ve taken 37 points from 16 when he’s started, title-winning form. How important is Sow’s energy and tenacity in support of the press?

Jess: It’s hard with Sow because he is absolutely fantastic. He’s technically impressive, hardly ever loses the ball, he has fantastic vision and link-up play. But his injuries just stop him getting any run of games. If his fitness was better, I honestly believe he is the difference between top 6 and top 2.

Sam: A bit of a freak really, it is like having another set of legs in the team when he is playing. And, in truth, we aren’t any good without him. But he’s a cheap signing of Malian nationality who is 31 and somehow ended up in Russia before coming to Forest, so clearly there was a flaw somewhere and it appears to be in his fitness.

Peter: We seem to win and certainly rarely lose when he plays for us and we almost always lose when he hasn’t been playing. Says it all.

Ryan: Sow is probably one of the most important players.  He dominates midfield and allows Watson to play.  If he had been git all season I believe we would be in the top 2.

Pat: Sow’s injuries have been a dark point for the season as he’s such an influential player. He has such a pace and energy that can turn a quiet crowd into a rambunctious lot in mere seconds and I think we’d be closer to the top two had he not endured spells on the sidelines this season.

You’ve taken 14 points from seven games against teams above you in the table, but only 46 from 30 against those below you. Do you think, against weaker sides, you can be overly reliant on Tiago Silva for creativity? Can there yet be a place for Joao Carvalho?

Jess: One of the MANY frustrating things about Forest is the inability to finish of the ‘easier’ teams. There are no easy games in the championship, but I’ve seen us dominate against teams and then sit back at 1-0 when we should be chasing the Goal Difference of Brentford for example- this has then backfired and resulted in a draw. Sabri has painfully made too many changes against teams in the bottom 5, which is not only stupid but an insult to the teams in our division. Silva is a great player on his day and creates plenty. I’m still baffled as to why Carvalho hasn’t had a regular slot in the team, because he is technically brilliant. Whether this is an attitude problem or a fitness issue, I’m not sure. But I would like to see Carvalho given more of a chance to prove himself- you can’t get a full measure of his impact when he’s averaging 60 minutes every 3 games.

Sam: The dour displays, particularly at home, against bottom half sides have been as depressing as many of the seasons before it. If a side sits deep we probably can’t win and heaven forbid if they actually score first, too. This is where it is clear that we are not a progressive side, there is just no tempo. Ironically, we do exactly what those sides do to us when we go to the top 6 sides and get results. Silva is a good player but quite simply needs to assist and score more. Carvalho is worthy of one more pre season, he didn’t have one last year and was off the pace throughout. The ability is surely there.

Peter: That’s our biggest criticism of SL. We are still too defensive against the weaker teams yet those who want to play offensive football seem to fall into our trap. We cannot realistically go up automatically unless we address this. I can only imagine JC doesn’t do enough during training as he is by far and away our most creative player. If it is down to a lack of training focus then that’s a major weakness only he can resolve.

Ryan: I do think we lack creativity.  We play well against teams that attack us. We struggle to break teams down. Carvalho could have a role to play but hasnt made an impact off the bench this season so who knows? I would be tempted to cash in and get a Championship proven number 10.

Pat: Our inate ability to ‘do a Forest’ has proved costly throughout this season. Every time we got within touching distance of the top two, we’d lose to Birmingham, to Charlton, capitulate to Sheff Wed, and scrape results against Middlesbrough – just not good enough. Tiago SIlva is a little magician and is extremely underrated for what he brings to the team. Carvalho for me has a place at Forest. He’s admitted that he struggled to adapt to the style of English football but I think he has so much talent that he should be given more time, both by Lamouchi and Marinakis. I fear a move to Olympiakos to cover the investment made but in my view there’s more to come from him. See the link above for why he needs to stay! Bags of talent, we just need to find that winning formula.

Ryan Yates and Alfa Semedo had 10 starts apiece last year. Do you expect them to continue to develop, or do you think they may have a ceiling at Championship level?

Jess: Semedo is one that has been okay, but hasn’t been overly impressive. He’s an alright squad player, but not a regular starter for me. Yates is another Worrall for me, where I’d love to see him do well and come into it but at the minute I can’t see it happening. He has moments of magic, but in general is quite clumsy. I think another loan might do him some good. Until then, I think the current position for them both is as good as it’s going to get.

Sam: They are not of any assistance to a premier league chasing squad.

Peter: Yates is definitely at the max of his capacity.

Ryan: Yates needs a loan spell to get regular first team football. He is a young lad and I think there is a player in there. Semedo was brilliant first few games but lost his way after injury. I’m not sure what his best position is. I think he is a box to box and would do well in a different formation.

Pat: Yates comes in for a lot of criticism from the Forest faithful but he has it in his locker to pick up the odd goal, and often at key moments. He is a useful substitute and can have an impact when called upon, but I don’t think there’s enough there to be a leader in our team. Semedo is another who can have a place in the team. Like Carvalho, there is lots of potential, he just doesn’t seem to have found a consistency in his game at Forest just yet and it looks like he’ll head back to Portugal when the season ends.

We mentioned the season Cash has had above… he seems to have struck up a fantastic partnership with Joe Lolley, who likes making those winding inward runs to either curl a shot, create, or play in his right-back. Would you say your right side has been your main strong point?

Jess: Our right wing is great to watch, not just with the ball but off the ball with support as well. It’s a treat to watch Lolley and Cash on their day, they’re certainly the strength of our squad.

Sam: Lolley went missing for a chunk of the season but he terrorises defences when they let him run at them. There is plenty of energy down that right side, but when nothing really happens anywhere else on the pitch it isn’t always that hard for sides to stop that avenue.

Peter: Yes.

Ryan: Definitely. It’s no coincidence that when Lolley has an off-day we struggle to score. We are sometimes too reliant on him and 1 dimensional.

Pat: Without a doubt. Earlier in the season there was concern that Lolley wasn’t creating like he did in the previous campaign. It would be hard to when other teams have had time to do their homework and try to shut him down. Before the Covid-19 crisis postponed the season we were starting to get glimpses of the Lolley who inspired the team in 2018/19 though and the partnership with Cash has been magnificent.

Sammy Ameobi had a tough, injury-hit couple of seasons in an uninspiring Bolton side. Do you feel like he’s been getting on the ball a bit more at Forest and showing what he can do?

Jess: I’ve never watched a player who goes from below average to messi-esque so many times in a match. One minute he’s having the game of his life, the next he’s tripping over his own feet. But overall he’s made a good impression for me. He’s frustrating, yet enjoyable to watch- he certainly adds something positive to the team.

Sam: He’s been of use as a free-transfer signing but shouldn’t be a regular starter in a top 6 side really.

Peter: I love and hate Sammy. He can often be utterly rubbish like a gazelle with learning difficulties for 85 mins, then do something unbelievably brilliant the next that often leads to a goal. Definitely worth keeping on just for this.

Ryan: Ameobi is a strange one.  He will do something amazing and you think “wow, what a player” then the next time he gets the ball he runs it out of play. I would give him another year contract.

Pat: Ameobi can be hit and miss, but like Lolley, was starting to come into his own at the turn of the year. I’m not sure he’s due a regular start but has plenty in his locker to give Forest that bit of pace to see a game off.

Lewis Grabban is clearly a very clinical centre-forward, who has scored 15 goals this season, but his work rate has been questioned at times. How would you assess his showings for the Reds?

Jess: A good striker needs good service and unfortunately he lacks that at times. I think he’s a great striker and we’re lucky to have a natural poacher. Sometimes he can frustrate with what comes across as lazy, but I think a lot of it is instruction too. When he’s really struggling for service he often leaves his natural position and starts dropping back a bit, so I don’t believe his work rate is all that questionable. Unfortunately, with that, we only play 1 up top so when he’s doing that we have nobody to knock the ball to.

Sam: Grabban has been transformed from the backend of last season when he seemed disinterested, though i suspect he was also carrying an injury as his mobility and pace have been completely different this year. He gets next to no service but hasn’t stopped running all season. He’s seemingly not a straightforward character and his commitment to the cause throughout is probably a real nod to the skills of Lamouchi’s man management.

Peter: Given the rubbish he has to work off to get to 15 goals tells you how good he is. He also works a lot harder off the ball.

Ryan: Grabban works his socks off. He doesn’t chase lost causes but it’s hard to criticise that. I think his posture makes him look lazy but if you analysed it, he does quite a bit of running.

Pat: If Grabban is fit, he needs to play. Does he zone in and out of games, yes. But if he’s on the pitch, you know something can happen. He’s got enough pace and mastery in front of goal to be clinical. Sometimes his decisions are wrong and we need him to be taking more chances than he misses. We need work on penalties too, or potentially a different penalty taker but he really is an asset to the team.

Tyler Walker may not yet have the physical prowess to lead the line on his own. With Grabban now 32, are you hoping to see more of Nuno Da Costa next season?

Jess: Not yet, but Walker is improving season on season, especially his attitude. It will be nice to see him creating a partnership with Grabban for 30 mins or so a game and maybe mixing it up a bit. I haven’t seen enough of him to make a judgement on his playing ability, but I would certainly like to see what he can do. I don’t think another striker would go amiss for support but it will be hard to find one willing to come knowing that he will have Grabban to contend with.

Sam: Too early to judge Nuno but overall profile isn’t that exciting and we are severly lacking in dynamism in the attacking areas. Grabban might be alright for another season but Tyler needs chances created for him, and we simply don’t do that enough.

Peter: Hope so.

Ryan: It will be interesting. I haven’t seen enough da Costa to say if he is good enough. I would like to see more of him yes.

Pat: Walker showed what he’s made of with a goal on his Forest return. He had a great spell at Lincoln and I’d say we’ll be seeing much more from him next season, but yes, it’s probably too soon for him to be up there on his own. Da Costa suffered an injury early doors and I think we’ll see more of him once we get going again.

Forest have a strong academy. Are you excited to see the likes of Jayden Richardson, Danny Preston, Brennan Johnson, Jake Taylor and Alex Mighten break through?

Jess: Forest have a great reputation for bringing through the youngsters and making them regular first team players. Johnson and Mighten in particular have stood out for me in the games I’ve seen them in, but the more academy grads we can bring through, the better, yes to improve our squad without transfer, but also profit if they needed to be sold.

Sam: I’ve seen a bit of these in the under 23s and all 5 should make it in the Football League, with Johnson an exceptional talent as a creative attacking midfielder full of goals.

Peter: Absolutely this is our strongest asset and something I love about Forest. These players have been at Forest since 10 so to then see them break into our first team and flourish is brilliant. So what if we sell one of them per year.

Ryan: I am. We produce good players from the academy.  Even if they don’t do well we seem to make a good profit. Look at Brereton, Darlow etc.

Pat: As you will know, we’ve already had a few glimpses of Johnson and Mighten this season. It will be good to get these lads some time on the pitch and if we end up using a five-sub process like the Bundesliga has during it’s restart, then we could see them feature a bit more before the end of the season. We’ve had some wonderful academy stars in the past and we have a bright future if we can keep this group together.

Regardless of the ultimate outcome, how do you reflect on the season as a whole?

Jess: As mentioned before, the season in general has been positive, enjoyable, a little frustrating at times, but I guess that’s just football. I compare us to 3 years ago when we survived on goal difference on the last match in our final season under Fawaz and I feared for where Forest would end up. Our fans were boycotting, the squad was mismatched and we had 15 new players pretty much every window- not always decent ones either.

If we end up going up this season then great! But if not, I don’t feel that it’s an awful loss. It’s positive, we have (at last!) a steady foundation going into next season, a manager who will have lasted a full season, players who are happy playing, fans who are desperate to return. This season is the season we finally healed from toxic ownership and that will never be a be a bad thing whether we go up or stay down.

Sam: Anyone would have taken top 6 if it was offered at the start of the season, and, if we secure a playoff spot, could even go up this season. But, a lot of progress needs to be made whichever league we are in next campaign. Indeed, Premier league with this squad is a terrifying prospect. We have undoubtedly overachieved this season using whichever metric you’d like to apply, but if Lamouchi can improve the attack in the same way he has improved the defence then another play off push could be in the offing next season.

Peter: Good progress but we’re not ready for PL yet.

Ryan: It’s definitely been a good season for us.  I’m not sure we are ready for the Premier League but I’m happy with Play-Offs.

Pat: At Forest, you never take anything for granted. A common phrase in football is ‘it’s the hope that kills you’ and that couldn’t be more prevalent with our club. Every year, you weigh up the chances of reaching the Premier League. But with Sabri Lamouchi at the helm, you cannot help but think when rather than if. The end of this season, whether through a curtailment, or by playing the matches out, will not be the normal end of season. Teams are effectively back to square one for nine games. Some will prosper, some will falter. Time will tell but I think we can look back on a season where Lamouchi made Forest, Forest again. A team fighting at the right end of the Championship and with real hope of a return to tier one after 20 years away.

It’s definitely been transformational for the club but it would be typical for Forest to make their first ever new-Wembley appearance in the season fans cannot attend. If we go up though, does it matter!