If Bolton fans think they had a rough season last year, they should have a chat with a Nottingham Forest fan. Which is, of course, just what we did ahead of Friday, when the Reds are due to make a visit to the Reebok. We chatted with Pat from the Forest blog Seat Pitch to get his opinions on all of the changes at City Ground, and what's next for the Foresters.
Nottingham Forest have had a pretty tumultuous past year. You've seen three separate managers, had a chairman resign and then pass away, after a long association with the club, and been bought by a Kuwaiti family. What are your views on all of these changes? Do you think the dust will begin to settle this season?
Seat Pitch: Aside relegation, everything that could have gone wrong last season did. The disastrous appointment of Steve McClaren, and subsequent fall-out, set the club back several seasons. The tragic death of Nigel Doughty meant that we had no funding beyond the start of this season and, without a takeover, administration was a real threat. Thankfully, although it dragged on for a while, the Kuwaiti Al Hasawi family's takeover meant that we had new owners who were passionate about football as well as the club. So far they haven't really put a foot wrong - Sean O'Driscoll has been able to move quickly to bring in players and his footballing philosophy is quickly winning over the very few fans that had their doubts. Theoretically this should be a season of consolidation but the Championship's a very difficult division to predict.
Last season aside, Forest have been quite close to promotion in recent years. What is the gap that they just can't seem to bridge? Do you think that will be different this season?
SP: We lost two consecutive play-off semi-finals to better footballing sides - Blackpool and Swansea - with a winning mentality we couldn't really cope with. They knew exactly who they were; I think we lacked a little self-confidence and belief. I'd like to think O'Driscoll will give us the belief to go out and play football the way we want to, no matter who the opponent.
Where would you like to see the club at the end of the season, realistically?
SP: As I said, it should be a season of consolidation and a good mid-table position would be a good platform to build on, especially given the competition this season. However, a push for the play-offs shouldn't be beyond us.
It was announced in July that Sean O'Driscoll, who came to City Ground in January as first team coach, has been promoted to manager. Were you disappointed by the internal promotion, or do you think O'Driscoll is a good fit for the job?
SP: Given all the 'iconic' names that were flung around - Keane, Strachan, Ferguson, Hoddle, Redknapp, etc. - I was delighted with the appointment of O'Driscoll. He knows the club and the players but, more importantly, he's widely respected for successfully bringing his purist football to unfashionable sides in Bournemouth and Doncaster. He likes to build clubs from the bottom up with a long-term strategy. So far we've seen nothing to dissuade us that he's the right man for us, particularly after years of seemingly knee-jerk appointments.
How do you think Bolton will fare in the unfamiliar waters of the Championship?
SP: Obviously Owen Coyle knows the Championship from his Burnley days and given the club's decade in the top flight and infrastructure it shouldn't be a sustained period. That said, it's a very difficult league to get out of - ask any Leeds, Sheffield Wednesday, Leicester or Forest fan - and the competition is tough this year. I would imagine you'll be up there at the end of the season but you'll need to finish strongly.
And finally, can I have a prediction for the match?
SP: Generally we don't tend to fare too well on televised games so I'll be cautious and go for a draw - given that you scored two and conceded two in the first two games, let's go for 2-2.
Thanks again to Pat for answering our questions. Be sure to check out Seat Pitch for all your Forest needs, and keep an eye out for my answers to his questions!