Yes, the new season does kick off in just four weeks. And no, we haven’t signed anybody yet. But the time for panic is… not yet.
As we’ve already deduced from the journalists who know (namely at The Athletic and The Daily Telegraph) — rather than the ITK sites who don’t — Dane Murphy, the former Barnsley chief executive, is set to take over at the City Ground imminently. With his contract expiring at the South Yorkshire club on 30 June, the 35-year-old American returned from the US last week so is presumably seeing out his quarantine period before settling in.
Hopefully this means the end of the toxic regime under Ioannis Vrentzos, who is believed to have returned to Olympiacos where he remains on the board, and owner Evangelos Marinakis will put his trust in Murphy and his experience at Barnsley, D.C. United, Real Salt Lake and New York Cosmos.
Club secretary Taymour Roushdi has also joined from the Tykes, believed to be in a more senior role, while the additions of Chris Brass in February, formerly head of football operations at Wigan, and analyst George Syrianos from Stuttgart indicate a more serious commitment to improving professionalism and recruitment.
The only concrete rumour on signings — again, forget the noise agents and other vested interests circulate as ‘news’ — is Zian Flemming, a 22-year-old Dutch attacking midfielder who scored 12 goals in 33 appearances for Fortuna Sittard last season. Having only joined from PEC Zwolle last summer, it’s expected he’d cost in excess of £1m.
Danish winger Philip Zinckernagel has been linked with a loan move from newly promoted Watford, having only joined from Norway’s Bodo/Glimt in January. And Gent’s Iranian left-back Milad Mohammadi is reportedly of interest.
It’s no secret that James Garner would be welcomed back by both manager and fans alike, although any players in consideration for a Premier League first team squad are unlikely to depart on loan so early into pre-season training. Chris Hughton will undoubtedly use the loan market at some point, but it may be dependent on who is available and what cover is required.
Nikolas Ioannou and George Shelvey have already gone out on loan to Como and Mansfield Town respectively, and we wait to see who else Hughton seeks to send out on loan or sell. Fingers crossed we don’t have plans to cash in on the likes of Joe Worrall, Alex Mighten or Brendan Johnson.
Pre-season kicks off tomorrow with a Forest XI at Alfreton Town, followed by Lincoln City at home on 13 July, Port Vale away on 17 July, Northampton Town away on 20 July, Crewe Alexandra away on 24 July, Aston Villa away on 28 July and Burnley at home on 31 July.
With the Peter Taylor Stand redevelopment awaiting planning permission, the recently awarded Category 1 status for the Academy, and new additions at a senior level, the club is looking to be in a much-improved shape off the pitch. Patience is required for recruitment, as outs are almost as important as ins, but there’s no need to panic just yet.