The Uninformed Ridicule of Nottingham Forest’s Strategy
When Nottingham Forest decided to announce their return to the Premier League with one of the wildest transfer windows anyone had ever seen, it was met with ridicule from the uninformed.
Here was a silly club coming up to the top flight and thinking they could replace their entire team and survive. That was the narrative. What the pushers of the narrative missed was that Forest had to replace the majority of their squad, not just their starting 11. They had lost a lot of players who’s contracts had expired and there were a number of loanees who had returned to their parent clubs.
The Underestimated Challenge of Squad Replacement
Due to the outstanding management of Steve Cooper, the exceptional quality of Morgan Gibbs-White, Keylor Navas and a select few others, plus a good dollop of luck, Forest managed to survive the drop and secure another season in the top flight.
The Key Players in Forest’s Survival
This summer they are appear to be taking a far more measured approach to the window, because they’re in a much stronger position.
They need a goalkeeper as Navas and Dean Henderson returned to their parent clubs, though Henderson may yet return on a permanent deal. They will need a left back, with Renan Lodi’s loan over and Harry Toffolo facing a lengthy ban for gambling offenses. They could do with another quality addition in central defense, and an upgrade in midfield.
Identifying the Key Areas for Improvement
The attack seems set for the season, with Chris Wood’s deal becoming permanent after an initial loan spell. Forest might have preferred not to take up that deal but the purchase option became an obligation when they stayed up. Wood will provide decent depth and can be very effective if used properly.
Back to their needs, and it appears that they might have prioritized adding a midfielder to their ranks. Someone who can be a defensive anchor in midfield. Danilo is a star in the making, but Orel Mangala had an uneven first season and might be best suited to a squad role while both Lewis O’Brien and Remo Freuler have undeniable quality but failed to shine for Forest last season. Ryan Yates did the usual Ryan Yates things, but missed 15 games and is, like Mangala, suited more to a squad role than a starting spot.
The Need for a Defensive Anchor in Midfield
Multiple reliable outlets have reported that midfielder top of Forest’s wishlist is Ibrahim Sangare of PSV Eindhoven and it’s very easy to see why Steve Cooper would want to add him to the mix.
The Ivorian is a towering presence, standing 6’3 and powerfully built. He is a ball-winning machine who excels at the defensive side of the game but is no slouch on the ball. Signed by PSV from Toulouse just as Southampton thought they had a deal done for him, Sangare has been one of the few consistently bright lights for PSV during a period of upheaval at the club.
Sangare’s Impressive Track Record and Potential Impact
With four years at Toulouse and three in Eindhoven, he is vastly experienced despite only being 25. He has 219 senior club games to his name, as well as 31 international caps. He is comfortable playing in a two or a three-man midfield which would suit Cooper who likes to change things up from time to time, and won’t have any issues with the physicality of the league.
While the reported asking price of £35mil is steep, Sangare would definitely improve Forest and give them a good chance at improving on last season’s 16th-place finish.