Nottingham Forest legend Colin Barrett believes the East Midlands side have every chance of reaching the top six this season if they can be within ‘four or five points’ of the play-offs by the Christmas period, speaking on Nottinghamshire Live’s Garibaldi Red podcast.
Forest endured a torrid start to the campaign, winning just one point from a possible 21 in their opening seven league games of the 2021/22 campaign and failing to keep a clean sheet in any, with former manager Chris Hughton being dismissed in the middle of last month because of this record.
Despite the Irishman’s promotion-winning credentials, the second-tier outfit improved vastly after his departure, grabbing their first win of the season under former caretaker boss Steven Reid at Huddersfield Town before thriving with new manager Steve Cooper.
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Winning three of their last four matches and claiming 10 points from a possible 12, they have climbed from the bottom of the Championship table to 17th and remarkably, are just seven points off the play-offs now.
This remarkable turnaround and Cooper’s consecutive play-off finishes with former club Swansea City make a play-off charge a reality after becoming favourites for the drop earlier in the season, although after enduring the start they had, many Forest fans would probably take a comfortable finish as their realistic aim at this moment in time.
There are 35 league games left to go in this campaign though and one man who believes they have a chance of achieving a top-six finish is former Reds man Colin Barrett, who said: “They’ve given themselves an opportunity. They’re only seven or eight points off the play-offs.
“You say that to a team at Christmas they would think they had an opportunity for the play-offs.
“The situation they’ve got themselves in, as much as we praise players when they do well, the players have to take an awful lot of responsibility for the (opening) games.
“If they can be four or five points behind the top six at Christmas then they’re in with a shout. Then from a recruitment point of view what do you do?
“Hopefully they can get it right now.”
Nottingham Forest changed their manager early enough to make a potential play-off push a reality – but their honeymoon period under Steve Cooper won’t last forever and in this sense – the international break has probably come at the wrong time for a side who will have wanted to continue building momentum.
They face Blackpool at home in front of a vociferous City Ground crowd this weekend and will be favourites to win this match which should give them confidence, but there’s no such thing as an easy game and they will be picked apart by Neil Critchley’s side and punished if they approach this tie with the wrong mentality.
The likes of Djed Spence and Max Lowe are likely to be vital throughout the campaign as wing-backs, Joe Worrall is a huge asset at the back again and James Garner is likely to impress again this season after making such an impact in the second tier last term, but the forward department is one they may need to address if they want to sustain a promotion push.
Lewis Grabban is in good form at this moment in time, but strength in depth is key and with Lyle Taylor still struggling in the East Midlands, it would be no surprise to see them go after a potential replacement for the former Charlton Athletic man in January.
Like many other teams in the Championship, consistency will be key, but you certainly wouldn’t rule them out the running for the play-offs with four spots up for grabs.