Nottingham Forest: what does the season ahead hold?

As we enter a new season it is my aim to get a preview for all of Huddersfield’s opponents. Despite a late call, I was fortunate to get Patrick O’Kane to write it for me, and I’m sure you’ll agree he’s done a great job.

So here we are at the start of another season in the Championship. What lies ahead for the mighty Reds this year?

After the heartbreak of May’s final day and final minute defeat to Leicester City which ruled Forest out of the promotion picture, Billy Davies’ side have been busy in the transfer market, but will the new signings have the desired impact and send the twice European Cup winners back to the promised land?

The Kuwaiti owned club have promised much to their loyal fans in the wake of the Alex McLeish debacle and the appointment of Davies in February was certainly the tonic that got the fans back on side and a stunning run saw them just miss out on the play-offs. Fans are expecting a lot from the Davies’ crew and that starts tomorrow against Huddersfield Town. Bringing in hallmark names like Jamie Mackie and Dorus De Vries has signalled an intent, while a couple of unknown signings leave a lot to be desired for fans.

Under the stewardship of the ever-reliable Chris Cohen, named as captain this week, and vice-captain Andy Reid, Forest would be tipped to be in the top six come May. But who will be their key players and is Davies the right man for the job? Ninety-five per cent of fans are behind Billy’s reappointment (you can’t please everyone).

A shrewd judge of character, he will sort the wheat from the chaff early doors and he will make owner Fawaz Mubarak Al Hasawi all too aware of any issues that need addressing. His key men this season will include Radoslaw Majewski. The Pole, who married his long-time girlfriend in the summer, returns for another season of Championship football and, having matured in this league over the last couple of years, could be the man to take over from the outgoing Lewis McGugan as a fans’ favourite.

Smart business from Davies has seen Gonzalo Jara sign a permanent deal after a successful loan spell late in 2012/13 and Aston Villa’s Eric Lichaj has also made the switch to the City Ground. A key man for Walsall last season was Jamie Paterson and he is expected to add a bit of life to a sometimes frail midfield.

Also bolstering the squad is former Hull City defender Jack Hobbs, who has impressed in pre-season. How Algerian signing Djamel Abdoun, signed from Olympiacos, gets on in a very physical Championship campaign could also be crucial to the Reds.

Davies’ squad is almost seven-fold these days and you have to wonder what Billy has in mind for the attacking line up. With Matt Derbyshire firing on all cylinders in pre-season (shocked me too!) it is hard to see where Ishmael Miller fits into the picture (yes, I almost forgot we still had him!). Dexter Blackstock is a reliable Championship player and with Simon Cox and Darius Henderson also leading the line, it would be no surprise to see Miller sent out on loan.

If anyone needs to pull their socks up (and get their awful hairstyle sorted out) then it would have to be Henri Lansbury. A star of the future at Arsenal, Lansbury has had a tumultuous first season at Forest. Ditching the blonde Jedward-style locks in favour of a wonderful golden boot could have Forest fans rethinking their prize asset for the season. If not though and the 23-year-old doesn’t kick on this year, maybe it’s time to put him on the transfer list too.

All in all, good things await Forest in the 2013/14 campaign but a good start is vital to Davies men. A tough first five games sees them come up against Blackburn, Watford and Bolton but escaping those games with a decent haul could see Forest’s 10/1 price for winning the Championship shorten to 6/1 by the end of August. Here’s hoping….

Follow Patrick on twitter @sportingpat

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