Nottingham Forest’s record-breaking transfer window

With 21 signings over the summer, Nottingham Forest’s record-breaking transfer window has seen the club grabbing headlines across the world. But given that Steve Cooper’s squad needed a complete overhaul, the club is now well placed to compete in the Premier League

You’ve seen all the headlines, all the jokes, all the memes, all the misinformed pundits having a pop…

On the one hand, it’s not hard to blame them — it’s been very busy at the City Ground this summer. On the other hand, it’s pretty obvious how much had to be done to an already threadbare squad.

Yesterday’s arrivals — Loïc Badé, Willy Boly and Josh Bowler — completed Nottingham’s Forest business for the summer, a largely sensible transfer window with plenty of good value and sustainable wages.

What has been largely ignored is just how bad Forest’s recruitment has been in the past decade — 156 players signed — which is partly why we’re here, but the efforts made over the past few years are now going a long way to correct those mistakes. (Even if Harry Arter is still sitting around, collecting £40,000 a week for not very much.)

With 21 new arrivals and 29 departures, the reshaping of the squad has not only been wholesale but entirely necessary. Just 10 players from last season’s squad remains — and only seven of the 18-man play-off final winning squad.

As it stands — without the expected arrival of Serge Aurier — we can name a 25-man Premier League squad without leaving any senior players out, not including the Under-21 players. Lyle Taylor and Arter are now the only two in limbo, and even if Aurier arrives it might only mean that Omar Richards isn’t reintroduced until January, given that the World Cup break begins in just 10 weeks.

So the plan to have two players for every position has been achieved and, with the ability to name a 20-man matchday squad with five substitutes, it’s absolutely necessary to have strong options on the bench. Allowing for injuries, suspensions and form, Steve Cooper should have the tools required to ensure Forest’s Premier League survival this season.

After all, when you’ve been away for 23 years the last thing you want to do is drop straight back down to the Championship. Indeed, Evangelos Marinakis has grander aspirations than simply surviving — back in May he said “trophies will come”.

And for chairman Nicholas Randall, it’s straightforward proposition: “We believe the riskiest strategy of all would have been to be timid and not face up to the facts of our own unique situation and the opportunities it created.”

The reward of winning the Championship play-off final is well documented — Deloitte value it at £170m across the next three seasons — but the reward of staying up for that first season is worth almost as much again. ‘This additional future revenue could rise to in excess of c.£300m across five years if either club survives their first season in the Premier League.’

So while we’ve spent in the region of £150m, give or take the odd add-on fee, it is affordable — straddling both the Championship’s financial fair play rules and the Premier League’s profitability and sustainability rules, over three seasons during Covid, the club will be well clear of any sanctions.

The spending won’t be as heavy in future transfer windows, but it shouldn’t be as the past few months have been about assembling a Premier League-quality squad. Not all of the signings will work out — one or two might not fit in, one or two might need a season to adapt. But let’s not forget the players we’ve had in the past who showed little promise in their first season, only to go on and become indispensable in years to come.

We still don’t know how this season will turn out. But what we do know is that we’ve given ourselves the best shot at competing at the highest level in world football — forget the Man City result and cast your mind back to the performance against Spurs last Sunday. When Cooper has ironed out some of the self-inflicted mistakes, and the football promises to be as exciting as it was last season, the results will come. Strap yourselves in.

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