There is a constant din in the background of English football that is created by fans who support big clubs that are outside of the top flight.
It refuses to go away with those fans in a constant state of indignation at not dining at the top table of Engish football. We heard it with Leeds United before their promotion to the Premier League in 2020 and, most recently, we heard Nottingham Forest supporters bemoaning their reality before their 23-year top-flight exile was spectacularly brought to an end after going up via the play-offs last season.
Essentially, they had been granted their wish with the Reds fans now back in the big time and able to prove to the world that they were ultimately right all along; the club was back where it belonged. However, as of late September when the league pauses for the international break, the Premier League betting odds for relegation price Forest at just 4/6 to go down.
Perhaps more concerningly is that the most up-to-date Premier League predictions go on to suggest that Forest will be relegated at the first time of asking. Whether that happens remains to be seen but the jarring reality for Forest fans is that they are finding out that England’s top-flight is a merciless place that doesn’t award point to big clubs who feel they have a divine right to be there. Rather, points are earned by not losing football matches which is a Herculean task for promoted teams in the world’s most demanding league.
Forest go for broke
It is with this in mind that you begin to feel that Forest has been somewhat naive in their approach to staying up after breaking the English transfer record by signing 22 players. Yes, the club knew they had to strengthen but crucially, they did that whilst also disposing of the core of their team that helped get them promoted.
Tellingly, the club was, at first, bullish to the views from the outside world that they had recruited too hastily but following a 3-2 defeat to fellow promoted team Fulham, which incidentally, came on the back of a loss to Bournemouth by the same scoreline, manager Steve Cooper admitted that he was ‘addressing’ issues that normally get resolved in pre-season.
Cooper’s uncertainty triggers alarm bells
It was the first sign that Cooper may have his doubts about keeping this team up after such an unprecedented splurge in the transfer market. In some ways, you have to wonder what Cooper and the club’s board expected by bringing in what was, in essence, two new teams over the summer, and then hoping to hit the ground running.
As to where Forest goes from here, they have no other option but to try and make it work by hoping that these players gel. If they don’t then it will be a short-lived stay for the club and its fans in a league where they feel they belong. Admittedly, that eventuality is a long way away and time is still on their side, but the club’s desperate predicament is now dawning on them. Will they panic or stick together? Time will tell.