With pre-season in full swing, the fans’ fickleness pendulum is also in motion as the supporters determine how the club will fare for the upcoming season based entirely on what are essentially glorified training sessions.
For Nottingham Forest, this is no different as following a very useful trip to Sweden, where the players were subjected to triple sessions – double on matchdays – the club understandably failed to win a match as manager Dougie Freedman put his squad through their paces, experimented some formations and tested some of the Reds’ bright young prospects.
However, these reasons clearly weren’t good enough for the always supportive, incredibly patient, not fickle at all fanbase, who as a result of these friendlies decided we were going to be relegated. A week later, the same fanbase thought the league title was within sight after a routine 3-0 victory away at Stevenage, who are in League Two. You just can’t win.
What is encouraging is how Freedman has handled the situation Forest find themselves in, in that they have a transfer embargo which restricts trade to the point where the club can only offer free agents a maximum of £10k a week.
Despite the embargo, experienced centre half Matt Mills has joined from Bolton Wanderers, as has the previously much maligned Jamie Ward, who will now have his chance to turn from being a pantomime villain to a man held in high regard by the Forest faithful. Going by the general behaviour on pre-season results, a goal against just about anyone should do.
As well as this, striker Nicky Maynard is on trial with the club – a man who once hit 20 goals in 42 games at this level with Bristol City – while former Ipswich Town and Peterborough United forward Paul Taylor is also having the chance to earn a contract at The City Ground.
The fact that Freedman managed to get both Mills and Ward to sign – amid interest and bigger pay packages from other clubs – is highly commendable, as is his ability to get players who have showed genuine quality in the past like Nicky Maynard.
However, while Maynard and Taylor may well both want to be signed by Freedman, there is an obstacle in the way. A rather high one, too. Forest can only have a squad filled with 24 or fewer players over the age of 21, which means some players have to leave.
The Scot has been very vocal about this issue recently, claiming that there have been far too many players recently that have arrived at the club, taken their wage, and not bothered about wanting to play.
With it being no secret that Freedman wants to get rid of Polish midfielder Radoslaw Majewski and Algerian winger Djamel Abdoun, maybe these were just two of the players he was referring to.
Abdoun’s case is slightly different in the way he seemed to fall out with managers, with it also being strongly rumoured that owner Fawaz Al-Hasawi went behind then manager Billy Davies’ back to sign the player. To make matters worse, Abdoun is allegedly earning in the excess of over £30k a week.
For Majewski however, if this was one of the players Freedman was referring to, then it would make complete sense. Never in my time following football have I seen a player sign a new contract and then completely fall apart, it was ridiculous.
After initially rewarding the club with five goals in three games, Majewski has yet to score a single league goal for Forest since the 2nd March 2013, having played 35 league games for the Reds since then.
It was almost as if he’d just given up, and was happy to take the money and run. A loan spell at Huddersfield last season hardly helped matters, as he only played nine times for Town – scoring a grand total of zero.
This type of attitude simply isn’t acceptable. Freedman is dead right to come out and criticise players who have behaved in this manner at the club. For all I know, Majewski could have had a breakdown of sorts, but when the stats add up – and with dreadful performance levels to match – it certainly appears as if he falls into the bracket of player that is a mercenary, which is a genuine shame.
The sooner the pair are shipped out the better. This would enable Freedman to bring in two players – probably Maynard and Taylor – while also trimming the wage bill significantly. We live in hope.
Despite missing out on promotion last season, the Reds will welcome two Premier League sides to The City Ground in the coming weeks, as Swansea City and Aston Villa make the trip to Trentside. With Gary Gardner likely to feature for Villa, hopefully the fans will give him the reception he deserves after a tremendous showing last campaign when he arrived on loan.
Equally, maybe the fans won’t judge our upcoming campaign on the basis of pre-season friendlies. Then again, maybe the sky will fall, as that’s just as likely…
Here’s to having the mighty Reds back!