Why Nottingham Forest are entering a crucial period in their Championship season
It may seem ridiculous, given that we're in early September, to say a football team is entering a '˜crucial period' of their season so early into its infancy.
Yet that could be what is facing Nottingham Forest as they return from the first international break of the campaign this weekend.
Saturday’s away trip to Swansea City is the first of seven fixtures between now and Saturday 6th October and this busy period will no doubt force manager Aitor Karanka into using all of the strength in depth at his disposal.
It’s been somewhat of an underwhelming start to the season for Karanka’s side, expectations being lifted after a busy summer of recruitment saw a big overhaul in playing staff.
The Reds currently sit in 14th place after six games with seven points with many Forest fans hoping their side would be pushing for play-off places at the very least.
Of course, that is still very much a possibility but Karanka will be hoping his side can start picking up more points sooner rather than later.
That’s why this upcoming period could be so important.
Inconsistency has plagued Forest’s season so far.
They’ve been unable to replicate their fine performance in their 1-1 draw against West Bromwich Albion in any of the four league games since.
Whilst a brilliant display in a 3-1 Carabao Cup victory over Newcastle United was followed up by a 2-1 defeat on the road to Brentford a few days later.
Having so many fixtures coming thick and fast could allow Forest to find some momentum and go on a run which will send out a statement to the rest of the league.
Their four September league fixtures are all tough, but winnable, and so is their Carabao Cup tie against Stoke City.
If Forest can get a good points tally from this month it should help to ease some of the disgruntlement from, admittedly, a minority of the fans.
This period could also help justify Karanka and Forest’s transfer policy.
The club have signed 16 players since the end of last season and their recent signings of midfielders Claudio Yacob and Panagiotis Tachtsidis, given the quality Forest already have in midfield, raised a few eyebrows.
Karanka recently spoke about his squad and claimed the fixture congestion wasn’t a concern because he has so many talented players to choose from.
If Forest can safely negotiate these next few weeks, with squad rotation helping them put together a good run of form, then there will no doubt be more of a feel good factor at the City Ground.
With considerable points to make up on Leeds and Middlesbrough, the league’s current top two, who Forest play in October, now would be a perfect time for this new-look Forest side to click and show everybody what they’re truly capable of.