Nottingham Forest (11/10 – to stay up) secured their return to the top-flight after a 23-year absence thanks to a 1-0 victory over Huddersfield Town in Sunday’s Championship play-off final, but what can we expect from them in the Premier League?
The last time Forest dined at English football’s top table, Tony Blair was in his first term as Prime Minister, Boyzone were top of the UK singles chart and Manchester United were still a couple of weeks away from completing their historic treble.
Since then, the two-time European champions have parted ways with 19 permanent managers, been placed under a transfer embargo for breaching Financial Fair Play rules and spent three seasons playing in the third tier of English football.
However, nearly a quarter of a century later, Forest are now back among English football’s elite, but what do they have to do to ensure their stay in the Premier League is not a fleeting one?
Keep hold of top talent…including Steve Cooper, who also led Swansea City to the Championship play-off final last season.
Head coach Cooper was the mastermind behind Forest’s promotion, with the 42-year-old having guided the club from the bottom of the Championship when he took over last September to the Premier League.
While there is no immediate concern that Cooper will depart the City Ground, he is set to enter the final 12 months of his contract and other clubs are sure to have noted what he has achieved this season.
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Forest also have question marks over the future of key members of the squad, with five of the players involved in Sunday’s Championship play-off final having only been at the club on loan.
James Garner, Keinan Davis, Djed Spence, Max Lowe and Philip Zinckernagel are now all set to return to their parent clubs, but securing the return of at least some of those players is likely to be a priority for Forest over the summer.
One man who should now stick with Forest is sought-after winger Brennan Johnson, who has been courted by Premier League clubs after scoring 18 goals and providing 10 assists in the Championship this term.
It is no surprise that Forest (4/6 – to be relegated) are being tipped as one of the relegation favourites, as in three of the last four seasons two of the three newly-promoted clubs have gone straight back down.
However, there have been exceptions to that rule and Forest may look to follow the example of Brentford, who came up via the play-offs last term and went on to secure a respectable 13th-placed finish.
Forest would no doubt bite your hand off to be offered a similar position next season, but with this sleeping giant of English football having finally been awoken, it appears there could be further good times ahead at the City Ground.
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