Premier League 2022-23 Preview #16: Nottingham Forest

Premier League 2022-23 Preview #16: Nottingham Forest

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The Guardian writers’ predicted position 15. (Note: This is not necessarily Will Unwin’s prediction, but the average of our writers’ picks)

Last season’s placement 4th (Championship)

Odds on the championship title (via Oddschecker) 1,000-1


The owners have big ambitions, especially after firing at players vigorously over the summer, but the reality is the Premier League is a big leap for any club, regardless of the level of investment. Evangelos Marinakis spoke of fighting for trophies after promotion but the club will ultimately be happy if he finishes in 17th place.

They certainly have the players who need to move up a few spots, but it might take a while for the team to coalesce given the overthrow of the game staff. They lost part of the promotion squad, including popular goalkeeper Brice Samba, who was allowed to leave and was replaced by Dean Henderson, while club captain Lewis Grabban opted against signing a new contract.

Recruitment was precise to give Steve Cooper the resources he needs to make his team competitive in a division new to the majority of his players. Jesse Lingard was signed to make a statement and add experiences. It’s a young side that should help with fearlessness at the highest level but possibly means they lack the necessary nous to get through the tough moments and how they’ll react when they have a bad run, which is what they’re in didn’t experience under Cooper last season.

They will come across as aggressive and will constantly insist that no one, regardless of stature, easily takes points away from them throughout the campaign. The City Ground received an upgrade over the summer and the club are hoping that’s where they will collect most of their points en route to safety.


The manager

When things went incredibly wrong under Chris Hughton early last season, Chief Executive Dane Murphy was quick to identify Cooper as the man who should improve Forest. Few could have anticipated going from a point in seven games to beating Huddersfield in the play-off final, but that was the effect the former Swansea head coach had on the team. Within the club, the most important thing that brought Cooper to the squad was ‘faith’, as confirmed by Joe Worrall at Wembley. The team became more aggressive under his leadership and eventually became a cohesive entity. He transformed Brennan Johnson from a forward on the team’s periphery to their most-lauded asset in a matter of months. He knows what he’s doing with young players thanks to his experience in academies and with England youth teams. He will enjoy his first season as Premier League manager.

Dean Henderson (left) is on loan from Manchester United for the season and will compete with Wayne Hennessey (right) for the No 1 shirt.

Dean Henderson (left) is on loan from Manchester United for the season and will compete with Wayne Hennessey (right) for the No 1 shirt. Photo: Marc Atkins/Getty Images

transfer coup

It’s been another smart summer in the transfer market for Forest. The Bundesliga has been a key target for the club, where they know they can get value for money. They broke their transfer record to make Taiwo Awoniyi their first signing of the summer for £17.5million from Union Berlin. The Nigeria international started his career at Liverpool but spent his time there on loan before joining Union last summer. He scored 15 goals to help his team finish fifth in the table and in European football, but decided to give it up for a shot at the Premier League. He met Cooper and, despite interest from others, decided that the City Ground project was right for him.

Impact on the World Cup

It should be a month off for most players. Dean Henderson will be hoping first-team football gets him into the England squad, while Neco Williams and Brennan Johnson are sure to be part of the Wales setup barring injuries. The other player likely to be in Qatar is Canadian Richie Laryea but he is set to spend the season on loan.


Alternative attractions during the World Cup

There is no shortage of sights in Nottingham. There’s The Caves, which is surprisingly a huge network of caves, a good place to hide from the realities of the world when Forest is in the relegation zone in November.

Management of shirt sales

Brennan Johnson is the local hero. After signing a new contract this summer, his popularity has been boosted even more. Everyone likes an academy product that’s doing well, and Johnson certainly is. His father David had a decent five-year stint at the club around the turn of the millennium and his legacy lives on 16 years after his departure. He faces a huge step up considering he was on loan at Lincoln in League One two years ago, but everything indicates he has the skills to be a long-term Premier League player.


Last season, Djed Spence and Brice Samba were the main social players. The good news is they are now in the Premier League when it comes to the TikToks, the Instas and the other things that amuse the kids for snapping Jesse Lingard. A first class player with the following characteristics. He has more than a million fans on TikTok alone because he loves to dance.

If Forest was a Netflix documentary…

Nottingham Forest: Back in the Big Day. What could go wrong at the City Ground? They’ve worked hard to return to the Premier League, it only took almost a quarter of a century and three seasons in the third division. Fans would only hope it’s not a depiction of someone losing hope over a nine-month period.

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