Forest become the latest side under the microscope in our series of team preview
Home ground: City Ground
Manager: Dougie Freedman
2014/15 league position: 14th
2014/15 top goalscorer: Michail Antonio/Britt Assombalonga (15 in all competitions)
Set to enter the 2015/16 Sky Bet Championship campaign under the stewardship of former Bolton manager Dougie Freedman in what will be the Scot’s first full season in charge of the club, Nottingham Forest will be hoping to start as they mean to go on come August 8.
Coming into the new season having lost six of their final eight league fixtures last term, the Reds experienced a solid if not spectacular campaign during 2014/15 which ultimately saw them finish a respectable 14th in the league standings.
The season itself however saw much change at The City Ground, with the Reds having initially began well under the leadership of Stuart Pearce, with the former England international seeing his side remain unbeaten until mid-October.
Winning five and drawing six of their opening eleven games, Forest proceeded to experience something of a slump in form as the season headed towards its midway mark, winning just three of a possible 17 matches – form which resulted in the departure of Pearce.
Installing Freedman in the hotseat in early February, the former Crystal Palace striker’s arrival saw an upturn in fortunes for the club as they climbed up the table courtesy of a six-game unbeaten run.
Faltering towards the season’s conclusion however, any hopes Forest fans had of a late run for the play-offs were extinguished and a mid-table finish beckoned.
Following their final game of the campaign against Cardiff City, the Reds have moved to strengthen their squad with the arrivals of Jamie Ward and Tim Erlandsson in Nottingham.
The more notable signing however is that of ex-Wanderers captain Matt Mills, with the centre-half linking up with his former manager after being released by the Whites this summer.
Despite being set to be without Britt Assombalonga for the first half of the campaign – a man who notched 15 goals prior to being sidelined with a long-term knee injury in February – Freedman will be hoping that his squad can replicate the form they showed in glimpses last year on a more regular basis this time around.
Paul Taylor, assistant sports editor and Nottingham Forest writer for the Nottingham Post offers his thoughts on the Reds’ coming campaign to bwfc.co.uk.
“Nottingham Forest’s expectations may well be tempered as much by events off the pitch as they are by those on it.
“With the club operating under a Financial Fair Play transfer embargo, Dougie Freedman’s work in the transfer market has been hugely limited.
“The Scotsman has been able to sign Matt Mills and Jamie Ward on free transfers, following the end of their Bolton and Derby County contracts.
“But, with a limit of 24 ‘established’ players allowed in the Forest squad under FFP rules, Freedman will have to pick his next few additions carefully, as Forest already have 22 such players on their books.
“Otherwise, their hopes will be greatly influenced by two things – injuries and their ability to hold on to the better players already at the club.
“Chris Cohen, Andy Reid, Matty Fryatt and Britt Assombalonga will all miss the opening weeks of the campaign as they look to regain match fitness – with record signing Assombalonga unlikely to return until January at the earliest.
“While Premier League clubs continue to show an interest in Michail Antonio - with West Brom recently having a £4m bid rejected – and Henri Lansbury.
“If Forest can keep their squad together, while making one or two more astute additions, then they can push for a top six finish during the coming campaign. But much may yet be decided before a ball has even been kicked.
“Where Forest are concerned, this season is one they will look forward to with cautious optimism, with the emphasis on cautious.”
FIXTURES V BOLTON IN 2015/16
Saturday 22 August 2015 – 3pm kick-off at Macron Stadium
Saturday 16 January 2016 – 3pm kick-off at The City Ground
RESULTS V BOLTON IN 2014/15
Bolton Wanderers 2-2 Nottingham Forest – 16/8/2014 (CLICK HERE for highlights)
Nottingham Forest 4-1 Bolton Wanderers – 21/2/2015 (CLICK HERE for highlights)