This article is part of Football League World’s ‘Rewind’ series, this content strand is where we rewind back to a particular moment at a club, assess the initial reaction from the fans, and then proceed to evaluate and reflect on whether fans were right to react in that way….
The start to the 2020/21 season was certainly not an easy one for those associated with Nottingham Forest.
Having endured a dramatic collapse in form that had seen them miss out on what had appeared to be a guaranteed place in the Championship play-offs at the end of the 2019/20, the club then suffered defeat in their first four games of the new league campaign.
It was perhaps not surprising then, when Sabri Lamouchi was sacked on the 6th October last year, with the club bottom of the second-tier standings and pointless after four games of the season.
Forest did not waste anytime appointing Lamouchi’s successor either, with Chris Hughton’s appointment as the club’s new manager that very same day.
Are these 22 Nottingham Forest stats real or fake?
Having previously guided both Newcastle and Brighton to promotion from the Championship, keeping the latter in the Premier League for the next couple of seasons, many Forest fans were understandably excited by news of Hughton’s appointment at The City Ground.
Defensive manager for a defensive manager😎😎
— DR (@DylannR17) October 6, 2020
— Khristian Serrano (@KhrisSerrano) October 6, 2020
That was quick! If not surprising! #nffc happy days
— Forest FanBase (@ForestFanBase) October 6, 2020
Lack of respect for Sabri is disgraceful. Happy with the appointment. Hope we can kick on now and be where we should be.
— Ryan Bardill (@ryanbardill_) October 6, 2020
Welcome at last I think we have some positive direction
— Paul matthews (@Paulmat1971) October 6, 2020
A manager with a track record of promoting teams for the first time in god knows how long, we are finally serious!
— FPL Forest (@NFFC_FPL) October 6, 2020
Whatever people think of playing style this guys track record in the champ is great- management and FANs on Twitter give him the time and let’s see if he can deliver
— All about the reds (@Gavinthered78) October 6, 2020
Absolute class appointment. Interviewed the guy a few times in Brighton and he’s genuinely one of the best. Also got both Newcastle and Brighton playing some amazing football. 89 goals in Brighton’s promotion season. He is not a defensive manager. COME ON
— Tom Walters (@Tommyblx) October 6, 2020
Best. News. Ever!!!
— James Prentice (@jrprentice) October 6, 2020
Solid appointment. We move on.
— James (@jtweets92) October 6, 2020
But despite that expectation, and a winning start the following week, when Joe Lolley’s deflected 90th minute strike gave Forest a 1-0 win at Blackburn, things never really got going for Hughton at the club.
That win over Blackburn was one of just 12 that Hughton claimed in his 42 league games in charge of Forest during the 2020/21 campaign.
Eventually, Forest would finish the season 17th in the Championship table with 52 points to their name, comfortably clear of the relegation zone, but without ever even looking close to mounting the sort of promotion push Hughton had previously overseen at that level.
A lack of goals also continued to be an issue under the Irishman. In Hughton’s 42 league games in charge last season, Forest found the net on just 36 occasions, with only Derby ending the season with a lower goals tally in the league than their local rivals.
Sadly for Hughton and Forest, things failed to improve at the start of this season either. The Midlands club picked up just one point from their opening seven league games at the start of the campaign, with Forest rarely looking like improving that tally in the early stages of the season.
That led to Hughton’s sacking in the wake of a lacklustre 2-0 defeat at home to Middlesbrough on the 16th September, less than a year after his appointment, and with Forest once again bottom of the Championship table.
As a result, it is hard not to feel like the hope that greeted Hughton’s arrival at The City Ground has never really been met, with the anticipated push up the table replaced by more frustration and relegation battles.
Forest fans therefore, will no doubt be hoping for more, now that Steve Cooper has taken over at The City Ground, although whether he will be able to do that, remains to be seen.