Former Nottingham Forest forward Robert Earnshaw has admitted he wouldn’t be surprised if Steve Cooper’s side were challenging for the top six by the end of the 2021/22 campaign, speaking in an interview with Betfred.
The East Midlands outfit have vastly improved their form since Chris Hughton’s departure, winning 10 points from a possible 12 after going winless in their opening seven league games this term.
During this torrid run of form, they won just one point and sat rock bottom of the Championship table when the Irishman was sacked.
Have Nottingham Forest had a higher or lower average attendance compared to these 23 sides this season?
But just four matches later, they have managed to lift themselves to 17th place and look ready to climb further up the second-tier table in their quest to achieve a much-improved finish from last season.
They finished last term in the position they are currently in, but will have high hopes of doing much better than that after conceding just twice in their last four games and scoring three each in recent away victories at Barnsley and Birmingham City.
Cooper’s men now have a good chance of making that progression with this building momentum and several summer signings now settled into life at the City Ground, including wing-backs Max Lowe and Djed Spence, who have both become popular figures already in the East Midlands.
Robert Earnshaw, who played for the club between 2008 and 2011, is one man who is confident Forest will be challenging for a place in the play-offs before next May, saying: “So when he went in at Nottingham Forest, I thought, ‘ok, I can see him doing well’, because I think he has a lot of qualities himself as a manager.
“But also, how he does things and how he wants to play, I think it fitted for Nottingham Forest.
“He’s had a couple of good results as soon as he has come in.
“They are a team where I was like, ‘ok, how are they going to do this year?’. You never quite know.
“They lost six out of seven in their first few games and were at the bottom. All of a sudden a new manager comes in, of course players react, things are a little bit brighter, the sun comes out – all of those things in the squad.
“Then all of a sudden they are winning games. That’s always the difference. He’s doing well. Forest are doing well. It’s a big club.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if they are on the outside, just challenging, just on the outside quietly challenging for play-offs by the end of the season because there’s still a long time to go.”
At this stage, Nottingham Forest need to take games one step at a time because their potential focus on the long-term could come back to bite them in the short-term if they aren’t fully concentrating on the task ahead.
They cannot afford to be lacklustre against a Blackpool side who will be desperate to build on their promising start of the season. Neil Critchley’s side have almost gone under the radar with their results this term, so they will be a dangerous opponent to face at the weekend.
You could also say they are currently lacking another forward up top to challenge the likes of Lewis Grabban and Lyle Taylor, with an injury scare to the former at the start of Steve Cooper’s tenure exposing how light they are in this position.
This could make the January transfer window crucial to a potential promotion play-off push, because they certainly have the depth and quality in many other positions to be pushing for the top six.
But when the ‘honeymoon period’ for Cooper is over is when people will really start to see how good this Nottingham Forest side is – because they underachieved last term considering the players they had at their disposal.