Despite 10 additions over the transfer window for Nottingham Forest, a few question marks remain. Will Chris Hughton be able to use the tools available? How will the new signings work out? And is it a turning point or more of the same?
On the one hand, it was a good transfer window. Joe Worrall, Brennan Johnson and Alex Mighten all remain Nottingham Forest players. James Garner and Philip Zinckernagel immeasurably improve the first XI — and we have solid competition for Brice Samba and options at right-back and left-back as well as sending a few out on loan; Carl Jenkinson remaining the only ‘bomb squad’ player.
On the other hand, questions remain: is it just more of the same? Five loan players, two permanent additions who look suspiciously Ioannis Vrentzos-style signings, an unknown Paraguayan and a Brazilian centre-back. More importantly though, no striker and none of the key targets were brought in. And why do we have six right-backs?
We remain bottom of the table, with just one point. Chris Hughton has more tools to work with, but obviously the jury is out. Will the midfield move the ball forwards faster? Can we get numbers in the box for crosses? Are we able to actually score more than one goal a game? Hughton might gradually turn things around… or he might receive his P45 in a matter of games.
Well, despite a new CEO and recruitment team the club wasn’t going to fix things overnight. The global pandemic has hugely affected football, namely revenues, and the transfer market this summer has been unique in many ways — getting business done early was unlikely, and spending money is a delicate exercise.
So, in the spirit of reserving judgement, we can hope this is a turning point in the crossroads — clearly with a little overlap. Clearing out 12 players at the end of last season, and a further six over the summer, goes a long way to making amends for previous mistakes. The new signings are young — not old, expensive Championship veterans — and reshaping the squad is going to take time. Next summer will see more movement, and maybe by then we will begin to see the permanent members of the squad gelling.
Nobody needs any confirmation of the quality Garner and Zinckernagel bring, while we’ve seen enough of Jordi Osei-Tutu to know his value. Max Lowe and Djed Spence offer options in the full-back positions — and who knows, maybe the recruitment team can identify a permanent left-back to bring in over the next 12 months.
Whether Braian Ojeda slots in immediately or takes a while to adapt, time will tell. But he looks an intriguing prospect in midfield — and the Paraguayan league shouldn’t be a huge leap to the demands of the Championship. The 21-year-old is currently on international duty so it could be some weeks before he is available.
Xande Silva, who’s moved from West Ham, offers another attacking outlet, adding to Forest’s pacey wingers. And while the Portuguese 24-year-old, who spent last season on loan to Greek side Aris, seems to fit the profile of certain previous signings, it’s only fair to reserve judgement on a player who cost the Hammers an initial £1.3m three years ago.
Mohamed Drager is the intriguing addition, a Tunisian international who only joined Olympiacos last summer. Maybe it was a late back-up decision before the delayed confirmation of Spence, maybe we can live with the close relationship with our Greek sister club, or maybe the recruitment team decided he’d be a worthy squad member. Either way, the right-back could be a useful addition… but it will be a shame if Fin Back isn’t given an opportunity after recent performances. And we can only assume Jayden Richardson will be playing his part with Andy Reid’s U23s in the Premier League 2?
There are the bones of a good team here — we needed five or six quality additions and you can probably argue we have five. How, or whether, it shapes up is a work in progress… but Hughton now has the tools to save his job. And a streamlined, younger, sustainable squad is beginning to make amends for the recruitment mistakes of previous years. But we only have to look back 12 months to see how a transfer window can shape the season ahead — for better or worse.