PEERING our heads from the caves of last season’s abject bewilderment, it certainly is a luxury for us Forest fans to be even contemplating a top-six finish, let alone expect one...
Traumatic; that would be perhaps be the best word to summarise our 2011/12 season. Derby had done the double over us, including a rather wrenching 2-1 home defeat to the 10-man Rams.
Over Christmas and New Year, Forest had bumbled their way to a run of one win in 15 games, with a scoring drought that had spanned seven weeks.
Those were desperate days, and particularly in January, one would have been mad NOT to write us off. When the legendary Nigel Doughty passed away in February, we feared worse was to come. However, it taught our players to fight, and we survived, in what seemed like the most fitting of tributes.
Even as we entered the summer, our squad was slowly being dismantled; including loanees, we lost six defenders to either pastures new or parent clubs.
Just as hope was preparing to evaporate, something happened... Something that, in all honesty, just doesn’t happen to Nottingham Forest these days... Our luck changed, for the better.
The Al-Hasawi family gave their full financial backing to the club and although the acquisition process was slow, their policy on transfers could be seen as the polar opposite.
Since appointing O’Driscoll as manager (which made the word ‘iconic’ become insufferable), we have seen eleven new players in little over eight weeks check-in at The City Ground. Fears that they would fail to gel as a team have been allayed by an impressive unbeaten start in the Championship.
So I ask, as a fan who has suffered more than a husband who has to accompany the wife shopping on a Saturday... Are we destined for greatness?
We have invested wisely - there has been no ‘marquee’ signings, nor has there been a hint of incoming players upsetting the apple cart.
Mr O’Driscoll would simply not allow petulance, and his pragmatic approach to the game, and desire for his players to do the right things at the right time, has resonated profoundly with the Forest fans.
There’s only one thing we love more than a Jason Lee haircut, and that would be a Reds side that invest in a passing game - this is not to be confused with what Joe Kinnear called “Sexy Football”.
If Kinnear genuinely believed he got his sides (Wimbledon included) playing football the beautiful way, then I would very much like to be the ugliest duckling in the pond.
It is simply not in our nature to get carried away; level-headedness and modesty, tempered with bitter memories and disenchantment, has ostracised optimism from our humble beliefs.
Even now, I would honestly accept an adequate season, anything above mid-table, despite us having everything we need in place to become promotion contenders.
I see this only as a positive though; O’Driscoll has already called for patience for the fans, and the majority of us realise that a rebuilding job does not just happen overnight.
Let’s face it, we all know Rome wasn’t built in a day... But as he said himself, Brian Clough wasn’t on that particular job!
Whatever happens this season, we are all but guaranteed an improvement. That is something to be optimistic about, but keep it quiet!