Opposition view: Big spending has cranked up expectations for Forest fans
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Ahead of today's clash at the City Ground, Norfolk-based Nottingham Forest fan Aston Cosford explains why hopes of a promotion push are high among supporters this season.
Have you been surprised by how consistent Forest have been so far this season?
No. The Forest board invested significantly to strengthen the side. You can be sure to face a much livelier and younger team than last year. Prior to the victory away at Middlesbrough, many Forest fans were beginning to question whether we would achieve the success which we had hoped for. This was mainly due to drawing a whopping seven games. However, we’ve only lost one which is a positive. So altogether, I’m not particularly surprised.
Were you pleased with the transfer business completed during the summer?
Yes, I believe signing the likes of Joao Carvalho (£13million) and Gil Dias (loan with option to buy) will benefit the Forest squad in the long and short term. The present squad has given us the capability of achieving promotion. Our new squad have also introduced a new style of football to the club, allowing the in-form Joe Lolley to flourish. Our signing of ex-Huddersfield defender Michael Hefele has also strengthened our back line.
Which players have been the best performers so far?
I’ve been pleased with the majority of the team’s performances, especially a few certain players who have had a great start to the season. Canaries fans must be wary of the in-form Lolley who has scored two goals in the previous two games. Also Carvalho has improved and adjusted to playing in the Championship significantly game by game, he is known for his short but effective passes to open up the defence. He has also featured on the score-sheet recently as well. And then there is the player whom you are dreading – Lewis Grabban.
How is Grabban getting on, he had a good spell here but never really seemed to fit in?
Grabban has begun to find his feet at the club. The first few games he played for Forest he seemed to be slightly lazy as he never seemed to produce much attacking presence. This has changed in recent weeks though, Lewis has constantly found himself on the score-sheet – with five in his last five league games – and is our top scorer so far this season. We hope this will continue in today’s game.
Is a play-off place a minimum expectation for manager Aitor Karanka this season?
Yes. Over the summer we spent around £23m in transfers for the likes of Grabban (£6m) and Hillal Soudani (£5m) just to name a few. It’s quite unusual for a Championship side to spend over £20m in one window, so Forest fans like me expect nothing but an immense challenge for the title. Anywhere below the play-offs will be disappointing. Karanka has huge faith in his players, he knows we will do well. We must be promotion contenders.
Have you been surprised to see Norwich in the top six mix in recent weeks?
To be honest, I didn’t expect Norwich to be in such a good position. Mainly because I doubted Teemu Pukki could make an impact on the Championship. But over time I feel like their team has improved substantially and could definitely push for a play-off finish. It’s still all to play for as the point gaps between the top teams are tight and I feel that Norwich will put up a fight. So overall Norwich have surprised me as the team has defied my expectations.
Any Canaries players you’ll be wary of?
Personally, the main player whom Forest are going to struggle to contain has to be Pukki, if he’s fit. Our defenders will have to be on their game if they are to stop him. However, Hefele and Danny Fox will hopefully be able to show their physical presence, and close down his attacks. I have also heard that Max Aarons has had a great start to the season, controlling the flanks well. But as I said, Lolley is in prolific form and he will be hard to stop. Other players who Forest will have to keep a keen eye on are Jordan Rhodes and Onel Hernandez, both capable of big things.
And lastly, what is your prediction for the game?
I think it will be an exciting game and end 2-2.