Cottagers Confidential: Nottingham Forest are a club with a lot of great history. You're currently riding high. What are your expectations for the season and for the future of the club?
Seat Pitch: As I said the other week on the Derby County blog, we hope for promotion every season. But we’ve done that for the 15 years since our last season in the top flight (1998-99), so our hopes and expectations are always two very different things… So while we dream of the Premier League, we normally expect to fall short or, worse, suffer a heartbreaking loss in the play-off semi-final.
However, things feel different this season — I’m still not expecting promotion but we have an owner who seems to have finally found his feet, a manager who remains a club legend and a squad that genuinely looks like it’s capable of challenging over the course of the season. And in that respect it looks good for the future, hopefully we’ll grace the likes of Old Trafford and Anfield again soon.
CC: Steve Wigley is currently an assistant with Forest. He had a great run with Fulham coaching the U18 squad. How much do you like him? Can we have him back? Please? I'd like nothing more than to replace Felix with him.
SP: Well, as he’s been associated with Forest since 1981, and has worked closely with Stuart Pearce for years, we’ll be keeping him for now thanks very much. Wigley’s very much part of the backroom team that ‘Psycho’ has assembled which is proving particularly successful with the first team so far, as well as bringing players through from the Under-21s and the Academy. You are, of course, more than welcome to the previous incumbent who is yet to find a job… can’t imagine why.
CC: A lot of our community is scattered around the world and this season has been the first time they've watched any Championship football. Because of that, many of us are very unfamiliar with the squads we are coming up against. If you could, tell us about one or two players on the Forest squad Fulham supporters should be aware of.
SP: Andy Reid, who might miss Wednesday’s game having picked up a groin injury on Sunday, was our talisman last season — we only lost four of the 32 games he played. And that’s not mentioning the 10 goals, 15 assists and the most sublime left foot in the Championship. Sadly, it looks like we’ll be without the mercurial Irishman.
Some mocked when we spent £5.5 million on a League One striker, some raised eyebrows, some grumbled… nobody at the City Ground is complaining after Britt Assombalonga scored five goals in six league games. And the 21-year-old, signed from Peterborough in the summer, already looks like the complete package — strong, quick, powerful and skilful. It’s been a long time since we had a 20-goal-a-season striker, he could be the man.
CC: Finally, can you predict a scoreline? A lineup?
SP: Given the injuries against Derby on Sunday I’ll take a guess at something like…
Darlow; Hunt, Mancienne, Hobbs, Lichaj; Tesche, Osborn; Burke, Lansbury, Antonio, Assombalonga.
It would be remiss of me to suggest anything other than a Forest win, although I’ll be hoping rather than expecting... 3-1?