Nottingham Forest 2018/19
League Position: 9th (17/18 17th)
Average league attendance: 28,144 (24,680 in 17/18)
Top league goalscorer: Lewis Grabban (16)
Following a 17th-place finish 12 months ago, our preview of Nottingham Forest for the campaign just gone asked if The Reds were a sleeping giant, or a fallen one, heading into a 20th consecutive season outside the top flight. If they have just been sleeping, it looks like they might be about to wake with club legends Martin O'Neill and Roy Keane at the helm and a major re-development of their historic home on the horizon.
Well-backed by Greek shipping magnate Evangelos Marinakis in the transfer market, Forest lost just two of their opening 20 league games under Aitor Karanka, heading into December fifth in the table. However, all was not well behind the scenes as the former Real Madrid defender left his post a month later with The Reds in seventh.
Martin O'Neill, a double European Cup winner as a player at The City Ground, took over shortly afterwards, winning eight of his 19 matches in charge to guide Forest to their highest league finish in six years. More promisingly for Forest's long-suffering fans, seven of those wins came in the final ten matches on home soil.
Dodging Financial Fair Play restrictions over the past few seasons, Forest may have to sell before they buy this summer but they do have assets such as Joao Carvalho and Hilal Soudani who could provide a big injection for O'Neill's summer war chest.
In February, the club confirmed an extended lease on the City Ground, allowing them to proceed with plans to redevelop the City Ground and surrounding area. Central to this redevelopment will be the replacement of the current Peter Taylor Stand with a new 10,000-seater stand. Forest hope to start building at the end of the upcoming season. The new, modern, state-of-the-art structure will see the City Ground's capacity become the highest in the East Midlands, reaching 38,000 after completion.
The City Ground
Miles from Brentford: 131
Address: West Bridgford, Nottingham, NG2 5FJ
Martin O'Neill was named Forest boss on 15 January, two months after leaving his role with the Republic of Ireland national team. O'Neill was part of the Forest side that won the league title in 1978 and then consecutive European Cup titles under Brian Clough the following two years. The Northern Ireland international also played for Manchester City and Norwich City, among others.
He started in management with Grantham Town and made his name by taking Wycombe Wanderers in to the Football League before success at Leicester City in the 1990s. He led Celtic to a Europa League Final and managed Aston Villa and Sunderland before getting the top job with Ireland. His side qualified for the 2016 UEFA European Championships, reaching the last 16, but he left late last year along with assistant Roy Keane.
The Key Man
Joe Lolley - 2018/19 51 appearances, 12 goals
Redditch-born Lolley has been attracting admiring glances from elsewhere after a superb first full season in West Bridgford. The former Huddersfield Town winger finished as Forest's second-top scorer, and led the assists charts with 11, going on to be named The Reds' Player of the Season. The 26-year-old's long-range effort against Aston Villa, his boyhood club, and one of the side's rumoured to be interested in his signature, was also voted Forest's Goal of the Season.
Head to Head
Brentford wins: 12
Nottingham Forest wins: 11
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