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[FM22] Returning Nottingham Forest to the Glory Days - Youth Academy+ Challenge


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League Cup Final - First since 1991/92 loss to Manchester United

It's been a long time since Nottingham Forest have been to a League Cup Final, the 1992 1-0 loss to Manchester United. Winning 4 out of 6 finals, the last victory came in 1990 in a 1-0 victory over Oldham Athletic, thanks to a Nigel Jemson goal. Forest have performed well in the League Cup for the past few season's, and this year was not the first time to defeat Manchester City on penalties, it must have been a sign. A second penalty shootout was needed to beat Sheffield Wednesday before Forest could put out a 2nd XI to dispatch League One Accrington Stanley. Brentford would be the semi-final opposition, avoiding the tie with Arsenal was key to get to the final. The first leg on the road was cagey, neither team really wanting to lose the advantage early on.

Ryan Yates was needed to drive into the box to score one of his signature goals to help put Forest back level in the first half of the first leg. The second half was not one for the purest's as neither team really showed their top form and the game fizzled out to a 1-1 draw. Back at The City Ground, everything just clicked for a dominant display despite going behind early on. 2 goals from Alex Mighten and Steve Lawrence 24b. Mighten was played into the box by Ryan Yates and he finished it off from 15 yards. Steve Lawrence 24b would score a left footed screamer from just inside the box in first half injury time to change the whole look of the game. This time Mighten was the provider.

The second half was one way traffic but this did not reflect on the scoreboard and one Brentford goal would have changed the whole game. Richard Boateng (NC) would set up Dominc Diggin 24b for the goal that would really split the teams and the home crowd knew they were off to Wembley! And finally, Emanuel Sanches 24a would play the one-two with Dominic Diggin 23b and Forest finally had that 4th goal in the 90th minute and the City Ground was rocking, off to Wembley we go.


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Premier League 2025/26 Update 2 - Transfer Window

Let's start with performance in the league and we stalled a little with 5 losses in a row, but we did play several of the top teams in that period and trying to progress in the League and FA Cups. We find ourselves now in 12th place, a clear 9 points ahead of the drop and just 7 points away from that magical 40 point target. We should be safe, we should be able to give our youngsters more time and we will have survived the second year in the Premier League after failing here last time. The team is still young and improving, but we have enough talent to stay in this League and over the next few season's look to push into Europe. We are not a million miles away, just 7 points off the top 7 right now.


We turned down a £23,500,000 offer for Leo Fuhr Hjelde (Not) from Crystal Palace. Normally, we would have been interested in turning him around from a £7,750,000 buy but we just do not have the depth yet to enable him to go, especially when fellow central defender Jamaal Lascelles (For) would leave for Legia Warszawa for $4,200,000. He was a useful squad member but he wanted more playing time at this part of his career and we could not offer him that. The biggest departure would be fan favorite and top scorer in this save, Tyler Walker (For). The 30 year old could see the years of him playing most games was coming to an end so asked to leave the club. As a great servant to the club, we granted his request and İstanbul Başakşehir came in with a £10,000,000 bid which he chose over going to Rapid Wien. 

We would be active in the transfer market with the new East Midlands area to look to take over as the top club in the area and take all the top recruits. We would see Connor Leslie (EM) from Matlock, Derbyshire on the books at Leicester and the scouts graded him out as a Potential Premier League star. We have paid a large fee for his potential, £12,000,000 which could rise to over £15,000,000 down the line. A central midfielder with the ability to play on the right, with a fairly sporting personality, he could be a great one at only 19 years old. We may go back to Leicester for a few more youth players next season, but for now, we break even on transfer's.



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2025 / 26 League Cup Final Preview - Nottingham Forest vs Arsenal

Here we go ladies and gentleman, we are off to Wembley to contest Forest's 7th League Cup Final but the first with Brian Trent at the helm. Our first chance at silverware (Championships not counting) against an Arsenal team which won this in 2024. It would be a young Forest squad with an average starting age of just 23.5 years old. 8 of the starting 11 and 15 from the 20 in today's squad have come through the Nottingham Forest Academy compared to just 2 for Arsenal. They have a wage budget over 6 times of what Nottingham Forest has and on paper with multiple International players, they must be favorites to go on once more and lift the title. With Europe a prize, this games has extra meaning to the Forest fans who really want to see European Football at the new Brian Clough Stadium that will open for next season!


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League Cup Final - Nottingham Forest vs Arsenal

First Half

A tense opening half which could have been very different in the 21st minute when a stunning ball by Teun Koopmeiners found Bukayo Saka flying in from the right hand side, he would control and slot the ball home neatly on the volley. A stunning goal but VAR took a look and he was marginally offside. Forest had got away with one despite their early pressure. 33 minutes in and Arsenal were only denied by the crossbar as a curling screamer from outside the area as Callum Hudson-Osei had Clive Nurse 23a well beaten. Brian Trent moved his team from a positive mentality to a balanced one, not wanting to go behind before the half.

Harvey Sayer (Aff) would beat his man down the line but his cross was deep. Alex Mighten would be first to the ball, playing a pass into Eddie Craig 22c just outside the 6 yard line, he would play it back to Mighten and what looked like a shot from 16 yards out and was probably going in, was headed in by Dominic Diggin 23b and Forest had the lead in the 40th minute. Going defensive it was time to hold onto the lead and get into the half 1-0.


Second Half

In what can only be described as a moment of madness, especially when his team-mate was clearing the ball, Teun Koopmeiners would foul Ryan Yates off the ball right in-front of the ref. A second yellow card, 0-1 down and 40 minutes to go, surly the game now belong to Nottingham Forest? But it is never that simple, super sub Kalvin Phillips would score a long range effort in the 77th minute after 10 men Arsenal had really owned the second half and on merit were back at 1-1. The closest Forest came to winning the game was a Fernando Thicket 22e free kick in the 85th minute that cannoned off the post, so close yet so far! This looked like 10 men Arsenal would be taking this to Extra-Time, surely Forest could make the extra man count here?


Extra Time

With an extra man and pushing for the whole 30 minutes of extra time, Nottingam Forest could not break down Arsenal and score the goal to win the League Cup despite playing for 70 minutes a man up. With no real clear cut chances from either team, it would be a case of heading to the lottery that was penalties to decide the winner. If Forest lost from here, it would be a bitter pill to swallow but Brian Trent had to get his first 5 penalty takers ready to win the game. Having already won 2 shoot-out's this season, how much luck did Forest have left?

Penalty Shoot-out - Pre-view

Penalty Takers List - Average Age 20.2

  • Dominic Diggin 23b       - Aged 20
  • Fernando Thicket 22e   - Aged 21
  • Richard Boatend (NC)   - Aged 22
  • Jack Beckham 23e          - Aged 20
  • Steven Lawrence 24b   - Aged 18

The first pick and 3rd pick were probably not a shock, you want your strikers to step up and take a penalty. No Yates, no Worrall. After the game the picks certainly were a hot topic for reporters for Brian Trent, "They just had to hit the ball into the net, nothing more, nothing less. It's what they practiced for and age or status doesn't matter here. One player looked nervous so we dropped him down the rank and that allowed Steven into the first 5." But an 18 year old defender on what could be a must score shot, what could go wrong??

Penalty Shoot-out

Each one of the first 8 takers stepped up and all put their penalties away with ease, neither keeper had a chance up to that point. Jack Beckham 23e placed his shot into the bottom left hand corner, the 20 year old with a perfect penalty. 4-4 and this could be heading into the lower order takers soon. 5th penalty for Arsenal and French International Theo Hernandez, with 48 caps to his name, would blast the ball straight down the middle as Clive Nurse 23a punched it away. Had he tried to be too cute, that did not matter, Forest were one penalty away from winning the League Cup. Step up a young Scottish 18 year old central defender, probably not who anyone thought would be taking this one. He stepped up with the cooliness of a veteran and he had to be inch perfect into the bottom right hand corner as keeper Alexander Schwolow went the right way, but he was never stopping the thunderbolt from Steven Lawrence 24b. Nottingam Forest had won the League Cup on the back of a perfect 5/5 in the penalty shoot-out. 2025/26 League Cup Champions.

"Never a doubt in my mind" said Brian Trent (on the question of Lawrence taking that penalty). That was all that needed to be said.


Edited by theBlackPrince
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9 hours ago, Punch said:

Congratulations! Great job holding their nerve in the shootout :applause:

They have been impressive in every shootout so far, 3 from 3 this year in the League Cup. Was nervous going into this, we beat them in the League a few weeks ago and thought they would get revenge. When we couldn't get it past 10 men and to penalties, didn't think it was our day.

Great to finally have some silverware, having to earn everything at the minute which is great not just stream-rolling the league.

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Nigel Doughty Academy 2026/27 Youth Intake

Three "Elite" talents this year and all three of them are UK born which helps the ethos of emulating the Clough teams who won Europe. Gary Brazil may not be (statically) the best HoYD in the game, he probably isn't even close, but he seems to keep delivering on players as we say this season with 12 from the 25 in the first team coming from the academy. At the age of 64, does he have many years left? We will stick with Gary, he has been a huge part of what we have done here in this save and moving forward. If we continue to have players coming through to the first team of a similar standard to the past few years, we will be ok. I'm not sure we have got that proper "wonderkid" yet, but a squad full of Premier League+ talent will do for me.

So, onward to the 2027 intake. We will be signing all defenders in the class to bolster the under 18's as they were short there last season, even if they won't make it to the first team. Danny Davis 27a (Please excuse the 271 below, typo) is a young winger from Nottingham who we will have to retrain to play a little further back in our 4-4-2. He is injury prone which is a worry so we will have to bring him on slowly but his pace one he has spent some time in the academy could be a real handful down the wing as he is great on the ball. Off the ball, he needs a lot of work.

Clive Ashworth 27b looks to me to be the Roy Keane of the midfield. A tough tackling, ball winning midfielder who isn't scared to get dirty. His 20 aggression may get him in trouble, but could be a future leader of the team. He is down as a winger naturally but his future looks to be in the centre of the park as his dribbling and crossing do not seem to tally with a winger. If he can master his passing, his future is bright here, but will probably be a walking card machine. Born in Leicester, it is great to see us taking top talent from the East Midlands region.

And finally from the Elite talent we have Phil Jenkins 27c. The Welsh Wonder has plenty of pace but if he wants to be the best striker, he will need to put some hours in on his shooting and heading skills to be a total threat. Left footed with not much of a right foot, we need to see some improvements over the next few years to see what his potential actually can be. It is shown we need a a core of strikers in the first team which we don't have yet. 

Chris Stamatis 27d joins a very crowded goalkeeper room but it is good to see our Australian connection with Macarthur FC starting to see players from Australia. Finally we have Neil Raynor 27e who will have to re-train as a right midfielder but looks like he is short of becoming a first team footballer here.


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Season 6 Review Part 1- Premier League 2026/27 - Mid Table but in Europe, We will take that

We may have flirted with the European Places during the season but the truth of the matter was, we were always going to struggle to stay there. We don't quite have the starting talent at every position or the depth to challenge week in and week out. On our day, we can beat anyone but we can also lose badly to teams at the same time. We are probably still 3 or 4 years away from really challenging for the title but I think we can start to set the target moving forward of a top 10 and then a top 6 finish for Europe. The difference between 6th and 10th was just 3 points this year. The season is hailed a success as we lifted the League Cup for a 5th day, 1st in game, and that puts us into the Europe Conference League. Maybe not the European competition of old, but it is still a chance for the soon to be opened Brian Clough Stadium to host teams from around Europe, hopefully.

6 Season Summary 

4 season's in the Premier League and our best finish is 10th, that shows the level of talent and spending we are now up against. When Arsenal's wage spend was more than 6 time's ours for the League Cup Final Squad, we know where we are and how much it may take to topple the best teams. The club facilities are now among the best in the World and we have a steady stream of 3-4 players each year that could make it to the first team, in a few years time we could be really dangerous. We have the money in the bank now to maybe try and sign a blockbuster player, but do we really want to break the whole wage structure we have at the club for one player? Right now, I'm not sure that is the right way to go as some of the current players wages demands will be creeping up towards the £100,000 marker. I know that is nothing in the Premier League, but it just doesn't feel right to be held hostage to wages and release clauses that are too low. Least the fans can't say we are a boring draw team, with just 41 from the 244 League Games, it's usually win or lose.



2026/27 Review

The final part of the season was a struggle, but a brilliant 1-0 win over Chelsea helped us get over the 0-4 drubbing to Brentford. That Chelsea loss would be the difference between them finishing in the top 6 and missing out on Europe totally. Manchester United once again dominated the League and the European Cup as they did the double, defeating Barcelona 4-0. The 1-0 win over Chelsea will go down as the final game played at the City Ground and pleased we left with a win. Goodbye to a faithful friend, blame the council for us not staying an expanding.

It would be a season to remember for our Nottingham based Affiliate Basford United as they won the National League North, finally the transfer money is paying off as they move up a league and hopefully they can continue to build for a challenge at League Two in a few seasons. Steve Chettle is obviously doing things well as they sit at #25 in the rich list, listed as stable. We will see if we can loan a few players as always next season to help them along and see if they have any promising youngster's we can look to "invst" in.


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Season 6 Review Part 2 - Premier League 2026/27 - Mid Table but in Europe, We will take that

I guess we should talk about the players now, seem's they did most of the hard work! As we said at the start of the season, this was a transition year where the aim was to firstly, stay up and secondly, start to give the 12 youth prospects in the first team more game time. Looking at the stats below for the most part, this was achieved. We would sell a couple of our players this year, Tyler Walker (For) for £10,000,000, Jamaal Lascelles (For) for £4,200,000 and Will Swan to Stoke for £7,750,000. Will Swan at 25 had not broke into the first team so we cashed in, Lascelles we got back the money we paid for him as he wanted more football and Walker, who was a great servant to the club also wanted more game time, which we allowed.

Fans Player of the Season - Joe Worrall

Fans Young Player of the Season - Leo Fuhr Hjelde (Not)

The Squad

Firstly, we have to give Karl Darlow (For) his moment as the veteran keeper hangs up his gloves for the final time. He came back to his boyhood club from Newcastle United to play in 134 games in the 6 seasons. He has started his coaching qualifications so may form part of the coaching staff one day and he played in the final home game and final game of the season to have a proper send-off for his service. The mantle has been passed to Clive Nurse 23a who played the vast majority of games and looks set to be the #1 keeper for a long time as he already has 74 league starts at only 19. The main question will be who is the #2 for next season.

Joe Worrall and Leo Fuhr Hjelde (Not) have been the partnership of choice for a few season's now and are fan favorites. The issue was behind them we are still struggling for depth and players coming through at a quick enough rate. Greg Morrison 25c would get promoted from the under 23's after the sale of Jamaal Lascelles (For) and managed a few games late on. He has potential to be the replacement for Worrall as he has now past that 30 marker. Fernando Thicket 22e is one of the best players at the club now and has played both sides of the full back role this season. We had him on the left to start but with Fin Back's injury for 3 months, he moved to the right which allowed 18 year old Steve Lawrence 24b into the line-up. 30 games later and the winning League Cup penalty, he seems like he has made that place his own. We need more cover here next season but there is little in the transfer market currently to aid.

Ryan Yates was once again the first name in the midfield which saw much rotation this season to try and get game time for everyone. Alex Mighten now has 24 caps for USA but has once again left us under-whelmed which gave Emanuel Sanches 24a an equal split of playing time with him on the right. We are still not set on a starter there. Eddie Craig 22c is playing regularly for Ireland now and has played mainly in the central midfield, but he has stepped into the back-4 when called upon. Harvey Sayer (Aff) may be at the limit of his ability now, but he still is a valuable squad member who can play anywhere down the left. Jack Beckham 23e played well when called upon but time may be up on Ben Woodburn (Not), the Welsh international is now struggling to make an impact with more players of a similar talent level.

Up front once again Dominic Diggin 23b was the star man with 17 goals at almost one every two games. He now has 40 in 87 starts in the 3 season's since been in the first team. Can he finally go over the 20 goals next season, we really need him to. Rafer Trimmingham 24e had an injury plagued season which limited his impact with just 4 goals. 11 from 83 is not a great stat line but he has played many of them in midfield, hopefully he can push on next season and help week in week out with goals. Finally Richard Boateng (NC) may be at his limits but his 8 goals was second best in the team. He will still have chance to make an impact next season but may soon find himself on the outside looking in.

International Recognition

We have a ton of players embedded in the Youth National Teams with 10 players with caps, led by Shane Rooney 22b with 26 for Ireland. Only 4 players have played for their National Team which shows we still have some way to go, although with most been English that will be hard to crack into the first team. Fernando Thicket 22e has now been called up to the Netherlands National Team but as yet, has not made an appearance. 

  • Ben Woodburn (Not) - Wales - 49 Caps, 4 Goals 
  • Alex Mighten - USA - 24 Caps, 2 Goals
  • Eddie Craig 22c - Ireland - 16 Caps
  • Leo Fuhr Hjelde (Not) - Norway - 11 Caps

Playing Time Review



Edited by theBlackPrince
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Season 7 - 2027 / 28 Premier League Season - Oh Napoli, breaking us in gently 

With the new season upon us, the under 23 team would be busy with the Premier League 2 Division 2, EFL Trophy and the Premier League International Cup in a group with FC Bayern II, Fulham under 23's and SL Benfica B, which looks a tough group on paper. This really has made the pre-season more vital than usual to organise the first and under 23's so we had squads that could compete in every game we play this year. The usual 20-30 players out on loan stops here as they should get good game time against the best under 23 teams in Europe. The Europa Conference League draw was not kind, pitting us against Italian Giants Napoli. I guess this will be a true test of how far we have come along and if we can compete against the top teams in Europe.

We would get a tasty big from Tottenham for Alex Migthen which would tally £43,500,000 with some add-on's which was just too good to turn down. This started at £32,500,000 but we were able to keep pushing as we didn't need to sell. I have made no bones about that for one of the better players at the club, he has never quite lived up to that and struggles to put performances in each week. For that money, we had to sell. We moved quickly to sign Luke Thomas (EM) from Liverpool (On loan at Rangers) as not a direct cover, but to free up Fernando Thicket 22e to play on the right hand side, either on the wing to replace Mighten or at full-back. We can see from the comparison below, it looks like we have an upgrade, someone at the same stage of their career and saved a large chunk of money from the transfers. If this is the right decision, I guess only time will tell.

Our other bit of business to go along side this was to bring Kaide Gordon (EM) on loan from Liverpool for the season with an option to buy. As a right winger he fills that Mighten gap perfectly and gives us a full season to look at the 22 year old and if he is worth purchasing. The former Derby county man has performed well on his loan at Championship side Sheffield United last season and now looks to make the step up. We have paid a large loan fee for this, which does swallow some of that Mighten money but with few options to upgrade for this season, it was deemed a needed spend.

We open up the Brian Clough Stadium for the first time with a capacity of 40,720.


2027/28 Playing Squad

With the need to plan and make sure we have the players needed to start to thrive in the Premier League, it's time to bring out the squad view once more to highlight the First Team and those in the under 23's. They are filtered by position and then by CA from high to low. What is pleasing is the large number of 4, 4.5 and 5 rated players for Potential Ability (White). We have potentially great players across both teams and it looks like the jump up from one team to another is 2.5 Gold Stars on Current Ability. There are a few exceptions to the rule in defense, where we are weakest and really need some good youth intakes to improve what is coming through as it looks slim pickings in the Under 23's.

There are not many changes to the 25 man squad that finished the season last year and let's see the break down for this year. Average age is still low at 22 compared to 28 for the Premier League, which shows we still have a few seasons before we can probably challenge the top of the table each week. Oh, Brian Trent is also the longest serving manager in the Premier League!!

  • 15 players brought through the Academy since Brian Trent taken over
  • 3 players born in Nottinghamshire
  • 3 players already at the club from the academy
  • 2 players born in East Midlands area
  • 2 players from affiliates or Nottinghamshire clubs

We move from 12 to 15 players from the academy for this season and this only looks to be increasing, hence my want to try and obtain the best East Midlands born players also to not be just another youth academy challenge. Thinking more Basque than straight up own youth academy only now.


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2027 / 28 Season - Premier League and Europa Conference League - The games really add up now

We opened the 2027/28 season at home and as we did in the final game at The City Ground, we opened up at the Brian Clough Stadium with a win, a huge win over a team we have struggled to get any points from in the past, Tottenham. Young 19 year old striker Rafer Trimmingham 24e will have eased any talk of him struggling to score goals as he banged in a hat-trick, a fitting story line for the new stadium, It would then turn into a fortress in our first European game since 1995-96 where a Bayern Munich team romped home to a 7-2 victory over 2 legs in the UEFA Cup Quarter Final. Napoli looked a great side on paper but over 2 legs, Forest were sensational with a 2-0 home leg followed by an even more impressive 3-0 away victory to come out with a stunning 5-0 agg victory and into the group stages of the Europa Conference League. Rafer Trimmingham 24e gets another mention with a goal in each leg.

We went into the Group draw as a #2 seed, which was fine by us, we hadn't been in Europe for a long time. We would get drawn against #1 seeded Slavia Praha (Czech), Rikeja (Croatia) and TSV Hartberg (Austria). Now, I'm not an expert on many of these teams but this group looks fairly difficult compared to some. But that is what it is, we relish the challenge which starts in around 3 weeks time, sandwiched between Premier League fixtures. This will be a huge test of the young squad to manage the Premier League Season, Europe and Cups. We will be focusing on Europe as we have not entered just to take part, we want a deep run as with our strongest team, we should be able to challenge any team here.


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2027/28 - Europa Conference League - Group Stages

We almost made it 5 games in Europe without letting in a goal but we remain unbeaten in the Group stages after a wonderful turnaround to defeat Slavia Praha 4-1. We currently sit with 9 points from 3 games with all other teams on 3 points, leaving us just 3 points to confirm we go through to the next stage. We are missing Ryan Yates for 2 months with a lower back stress fracture and Eddie Craig 22c with a broken ankle, sustained in the game with Leeds (Not saying anything... but...). That is our starting central midfielders so we will be testing the squad depth and rotating players in to fill the void for a few months. We should also be able to give everyone at least 1 start in Europe over the next 3 games as we can move our focus back to CUps and League games to try and qualify for Europe once more this season. A fantastic place to be in at this stage of the competition and we will meet our aims to get out of the group, unless something drastic happens.


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2027/28 Mid Season Update - The kids enjoy the European Nights

Let's start with the Europa Conference League update as we now have played all 6 games in the Group Stages of the Europa Conference League. I'm pleased to say we remained perfect in Europe and in the group stages would be the only team beside TSG 1899 Hoffenheim to win maximum points. We would manage to get a full rotation of players in the final two games especially as every member of the first team squad has had at least one start, except Greg Morrison 25c who has been out injured. 22 goals in 8 games and assists from all over the park is pleasing and showing that we do not rely on one area of the attack. With all players putting in great performances, it really give's us options for the next stages. 

We also have a bye with the teams that finished top in the next round when it looks like 8 teams from the Europa League have joined at the First Knockout Round. AS Monaco and Feyenoord look to be two of the bigger teams that are now in the competition which adds another challenge if we want to get all the way to the final. But for now, we will not play again until early March so we can really look to focus on the Premier League and putting us in a position to qualify for Europe once more.


In the Premier League it is the best start we have had an at the end of December, find ourselves in the dizzy heights of 5th place. If October was perfect, November was pointless as we got smashed in 2 of the 3 games and would put just 1 goal past Liverpool in the 3 matches in November. Despite a manic December we would knock-off a 5 game winning streak, highlighted by a 2-0 win over fellow European hopefuls Newcastle United. With just over half the games gone, we are 5 points outside the Champions League spots but in a battle with Chelsea, Newcastle and Leeds for the Europa Places. Liverpool may be 5 points off this group but will probably be in the fight before the end of the season.

In other news, less than 6 months into our new stadium, we are already expanding after selling out all our Premier League games. It look's like 40,270 was no where near enough and we will be adding around 6,000 seats at the end of the season, I fear this will be too little once more. Rafer Trimmingham 24e has won the European Golden Boy Award after scoring 15 goals in 32 games. I think I mentioned him at the start of the season as needing to step up after a low goal count last season, he certainly has so far. The Nottingham born Forest supporter has made it public knowledge how pleased he is with how the team is performing.

And in the first "bad" Youth Intake Preview, we may finally get a poor group coming through where we may struggle to find first team players. Every other one up to now has been "Excellent" so a poor one was more than overdue at this stage and several years in. We will hold fire until they are actually announced and see if this is a one-off or we need to look at making changes in a few years time. If we can take one player from this intake at the full back slot, I would still take that.


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2027/28 February 2028 Update - Thank You Rijeka

Slow few days for me on updates, decided to go catch a game as the photo below! Good game, only one winner from the first few minutes, Forest could have had 4 or 5 but their keeper made a couple great saves to keep it to 2! Good day out to be fair!


And now back to the save. We have fallen out of the European places after playing most of the teams above us and coming away with nothing. Rafer Trimmingham 24e keeps putting the ball in the net which is pleasing but we are still too young and inexperienced to play these top teams week in, week out. We are still in touching distance at only 2 points behind Newcastle United, but the gap to Manchester City and Chelsea is now 6 points and may get wider as I cannot see us getting points from Arsenal or Liverpool. We have to take 3 points from Bournemouth or it could be an impossible climb back into the top 6. But, on the plus side, we should have some lower placed teams to play to end the season on a high?

The Europa Conference League was kind as Croatian side Rijeka, who we beat twice in the group stages might have landed the biggest blow I have seen in a long time, knocking French Giants AS Monaco out of the competition on penalties. What a story for them and for us, we get a team we know we can beat. This is a good draw to hopefully progress to the Quarter Finals. 


But tell me, how are the kids doing?

I tell you what, the kids are doing alright! in the UEFA Youth League, the under 18's beat Besiktas Under 19's 4-2 in the Second Knockout Round to set up a quarter final match-up with probably the best team in the competition, Manchester United under 18's. The pressure is off at this stage now as they have achieved more than they would have thought possible, but anything past this stage is a real bonus for the under 18 team.

The under 23's have also been going great guns in the Leasing.com Trophy as they head into the semi-final to play League One Huddersfield. This comes after a thrashing of Wycombe Wanderers 12-2 in the Quarter final including 7, yes 7 goals from Sam Huddlestone 26d. Louis Santwris 24c would chip in with 5 assists in a game that the League Two side will really want to forget. It is now down to 2 League One sides and 2 under 23 teams to battle to head to the final! I like the chances for the team to head to the final at this point.

The decision to keep the best players "in-house" this year is really proving to be the best for results, let's hope the development of the players is also improved from it.


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Europa Conference League - 2nd Knockout Round

4 times playing HNK Rijeka, 4 victories and we head to Russia for the next game against Zenit in the Quarter Final. They would also knock out Croatian opposition in Dinamo Zagreb. In what is set up to be 4 great Quarter-Finals, they could be two Dutch teams heading there as they are the only country left with 2 participants left. For Forest, we still have goals and assists from all over the park and now it is just a case of trying to keep players rotating so we can have fresh players in Europe but still compete in the League to get back to Europe. A tall ask for the young squad.


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Nigel Doughty Youth Academy Intake 2028

Think I said I would be happy with 1 "Elite" talent and it looks like we have got that with Irish winger Sean Horgan-McGoldrick 28a. From Oranmore, the pacey winger will stay there for us due to his poor finishing skills to play up front and lacks the strength needed for any other position. Does not have the greatest football IQ and with his physical limitations, will he progress to that elite level? Scott Bannister 28b looks a full-back in our system with great technique and maybe we finally will get a free kick master? We have struggled the past few seasons for someone to excel at this, maybe he is the one? An interesting one is Cai Qiang 28c from Qingzehn, China. Our first Chinese player but he has been in the UK for many years now and another one who looks set t play the full-back role on the left. His right foot is reasonable so maybe there is a chance we can retain on the right also but looks a solid prospect for the longer term. David Brayford 28d rounds out the top talent for the season but we have signed every player to keep the numbers up in the under 18's with all the additional competitions and the hope a player plays better than graded here.


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The Kids are alright, EFL Trophy Victory

In what can only be hailed as a glorious achievement for the Nigel Doughty Youth Academy and the great work Gary Brazil and u23 Manager Andy Reid have worked to win the Leasing.com Trophy over Manchester City u23's at Wembley. Owen Radcliffe 24g was the pick of the players in the tournment with an average rating of 8.66 with 9 assists and 3 goals in 5 games. He would open uop the scoring in the 6th minute from the penalty spot and Jonathan O'Rourke 22i would make it 2-0 before the half. With a red card in the second half for Manchester City, Forest would hold out comfortably for the win and to secure their first ever Leasing.com trophy. The kids, they done good!


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Europa Conference League Quarter Final - From Russia with love

The long trip to Russia proved to be successful as young striker Rafer Trimmingham 24e would score both goals in the first half to secure a 2-1 away win and those vital away goals to take back to Nottingham. The second leg was over before it began as Forest were rampant with 3 goals inside 15 minutes and the 700 travelling away fans were left shocked. The game would run out to be a convincing 5-1 win for a 7-2 victory over the two legs and would set up England vs Germany in one semi-final and an all Dutch clash in the other.

TSG 1899 Hoffenheim will be the opposition for Forest as they would beat Serbian side FK Partizan 4-2. The German side have been struggling all season in the Bundesliga, down in 17th, but in Europe have found their form. With relegation all but certain, winning this competition would go some way to help heal the hurt. Feyenoord and Willem face off in the second semi final with them sitting 3rd and 10th in the League. Feyenoord won the first game this season and then will face each other 3 times in 10 days. Whatever happens, a Dutch team will be in the final. 


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The Greek is no more, long live the Greek - The American Takeover

We have been under a transfer embargo for a couple of months now it seems, not really an issue outside the transfer window and with everything to play for in the League, FA Cup, Europa Conference League and Youth competitions. We have had several takeover rumors over the past 2 years which all were rubbished but American Business Director Wes Edens, despite a few wobbles has completed buying the club for £492,000,000. I have seen a £30,000,000 boost in the finances but let's have a look at what they want.

Youth, youth and youth, which is music to my ears. And why wouldn't you? With goals to be the best youth system in the country and the World, I think we may just get along nicely. I cannot see any issues with what they have set so far, but let's see if that changes over the next few years.


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Europa Conference League - The road to the final pass through Germany

Hoffenheim have had a bad season in the Bundesliga and they will be going down. That has not stopped them performing above all expectations in Europe and now on the brink of the Europa Conference League Final, which would go some way to easing the pain. They were hoping to take advantage of Forest being in the middle of a battle for an Europa League place and a busy schedule, and hopefully a tired team? It is testimony to the squad depth as we had to travel to Germany on the Thursday, away at fellow Europa League hopefuls Newcastle United on the Monday before the return leg with Hoffenheim on Thursday. In what might be the best display of the season, a "2nd" eleven would come back from 0-2 at the half to Newcastle to secure a famous 3-2 victory in the best comeback I have seen here and may be what gets us back to Europe next season. That win puts us in 6th rather than 9th, small margins at the end of the season. But we digress, onto Germany and the task at hand.

A wounded animal is usually the most dangerous and we felt that with this game. There are no easy games in Europe and on the road, you must score that away goal if nothing else. It was not a classic game, it was not a pretty game but before the half we had our reward and that away goal, thanks to great play between Ryan Yates and Eric Craig 22c. This would be the only goal of the game but our home form in Europe has been superb, this was now ours to lose.

And lose it, we almost did. We got complacent, we got sloppy. After taking a 2-0 lead, we played like we were already in the final and Hoffenheim got one back, they got a second to tie the game on the night and we faced a 25 minute period where if they scored, they would be going to the final and we would crash out. I don't think we mustered more than 1 shot in that period and after two great goals from them, they struggled to create any meaningful chance with Forest playing much more defensive and not allowing any space behind to run into. We "held on" and maybe got a lesson that was needed, it is never over until the fat lady sings, and she was not signing at 52 minutes into a game.

We move to the final to play Feyenoord who beat Willem 7-5 in what looked to be two great games of football. England vs Holland, Forest vs Feyenoord. Both looking to add more European silverware to the trophy cabinet, granted not the one many would choose, but tell that to the fans and the players in the final....


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This season is exhausting - FA Cup Final awaits after thrilling Liverpool come-back Victory

Liverpool are having a down season, sitting 9th in the Premier League and only a very, very slim chance of European football next year without lifting the FA Cup, so to say they wanted this, was an under-statement. We knew how dangerous they are and when they took the 1-0 lead early in the first, I wasn't sure we had enough in the tank to compete as we had a European game against Zenit only 3 days before (This update is a little late). But, once again we fought back and needed an 89th minute wonder goal from Shane Rooney 22b who took the ball from just inside their half and ran at the defence before firing a cracker from 20 yards out into the top corner. No keeper was saving that and Forest were into the FA Cup Final. Unfortunately, West Ham couldn't defeat Manchester City who we will face now.

The biggest issue is, Saturday 20th May FA Cup Final vs Manchester City, just 4 days later its the Europa Conference League Final vs Feyenoord. Is that enough recovery time?? I guess we have to wait and see, but it looks like we will need to focus on one over the other to have a fresh team out.


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Well, we screwed that up, all down to the final game of the season now

1 point thanks to a 96th minute penalty from 2 teams in the bottom 6, including Aston Villa who are already going down has really left all to do on the final day of the season. With those two games, we should have been clear and already secured our European place. But the team, the young team looks tired which does not bode well with an FA Cup Final and a Europa Conference League Final still to come. I worry, is there enough left for them to win any of them now?

But for now, we face 10th place Crystal Palace to secure European Football again next season. Leeds play relegated Bournemouth so they will be hoping to get 3 points from them and if we lose, Liverpool could sneak above us on goal difference. We can finish from 6th to 9th but destiny is in our hands if we can win here on the road at Crystal Palace. 14 days into May, 5th game already, what is left in the biggest 3 games of the season?


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We end the season with our tails between our legs....

In the end, with Bournemouth doing us a solid in the 91st minute, we couldn't hold our end of the bargain up as we lost 0-1 to Crystal Palace and lose out on Europe (unless we qualify in the FA Cup or Europa Conference League) on goal difference to Leeds United. All we needed in the end was 2 points from 9 and we ended up with only 1, so we didn't deserve it in the end. As my previous post, I'm worried the heavy match fixture's has finished the team off and we may struggle to win either of the last two games at this rate.


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FA Cup Final - 2027/28 - Manchester City vs Nottingham Forest

It all comes down to this, the mega spending Manchester City vs the young Nottingham Forest side, down on their luck at the end of the season. A remarkable run to get to this stage with the additional fixtures and on the day, Forest can win this game. But is that day today, or will Manchester City be the victors?


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I love how firmly you've established Forest in the PL!

Half a decade ago this wouldn't have been a very realistic scenario, given the state Nottingham was in back then, but you managed it.

Great work so far.


Crossing fingers for you to win the ECL final and perhaps the FAC, too. (But with City being your opponent, that's quite the mountain to climb ...)


Good luck! :)

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You can't win them all! FA Cup Final 2027/28 - Manchester City 2 - 0 Nottingham Forest

I didn't even get the match reporting sheet done for this final as deep down, I knew we would not be winning this. We put out a strong team and hoped that everyone would be fit for Feyenoord in a few days time. Maybe, that final had been on the minds of the players the last few weeks. Maybe, the huge season with an average age of 22 had just drained the team. Maybe, Manchester City are just a better team. It is probably a match of all 3 and more, we were out played all game and we may have had plenty of shots, most fell harmlessly away from the goal. We have to look at the positive's, we made it to the Final and beat some good teams along the way. We may not have gained the victory today, but we shall be back another time, with a more experienced squad and hopefully one that can survive a full season of League, Cup and European football.


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There's no time to cry over past results, Europe awaits. 2027/28 Europa Conference League Final - Nottingham Forest vs Feyenoord Rotterdam

Nottingham Forest and Feyenoord Rotterdam would play in the 7th running of the Europa Conference League, Feyenoord had won the first one in 2021/22 beating Spanish side Real Betis in Albania. Bilbao would be the hosts this time. Forest would have captain Joe Worrall returning for the first time in 2 months, advised to only play 45 minutes but in his face, you could tell he was going to go the distance if required. Both teams looks evenly matched and it was set up to be a great final in Spain. 

Will the heartache of the end of the season continue or will Forest add more European glory to their name?


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2027/28 Europa Conference League Final - Nottingham Forest vs Feyenoord Rotterdam

This game had it all. Lead changes, 6 goals, an own goal, a boring extra time period and then a penalty shoot-out. Nottingham Forest would go behind twice in the game before getting themselves ahead, all before the half. The own goal from captain Joe Worrall saw the game tied up once more. Extra time would come, and go, and once again, Forest would head to penalties to win a trophy. Would they be able to handle the pressure once more or would it be the English penalty curse?

Once again, Forest would be perfect with their penalties and young keeper Clive Nurse 23a would cement himself as a Forest Legend with 2 saves out of 3. With the game on the line, Luke Thomas (EM) would step up and slot home to seal the victory and the Europa Conference League Victory. 




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5 hours ago, LowestLeagueHero said:

I love how firmly you've established Forest in the PL!

Half a decade ago this wouldn't have been a very realistic scenario, given the state Nottingham was in back then, but you managed it.

Great work so far.

Crossing fingers for you to win the ECL final and perhaps the FAC, too. (But with City being your opponent, that's quite the mountain to climb ...)

Good luck! :)

I don't think we will go down again now, still a few season's away from challenging the top 4 I feel! But yes, would love Forest to be back here again once day, would be great to see. ECL final was tense to say the least, I was sweating it big time!!

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Nottingham Forest Season 7 Review Part 1 - Europa Conference League Success 

7 season's into the Forest Youth Academy+ Challenge and I feel pretty good. We have had promotions, relegation and we also have picked up a couple of trophies, which is really pleasing. We are now established in the Premier League but we are not a top team, our best finish is 8th. I feel the recruitment rules have helped slow getting to the top down which is great, but is still giving Forest the chance to compete with every team on a game by game basis. We are still a couple of years away from being able to challenge the "Big 4" and you know what, that is OK!


Big season summary page as it was a big season. FA Cup finalist along with Europa Conference League winners is a huge season and thankfully, the European run means we also get back into Europe next season in the Europa League this time. It will be a big step up but one we shall try and take in our stride! We also see the Brian Clough Stadium upgrading to over 52,000 seats which is where it should have been from the start. Steve Lawrence 24b is the first Forest player to make the "Wonder-kid" list and featured at #12.


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Nottingham Forest Season 7 Review Part 2 - The Squad behind the success

Now we are putting together a squad that might be able to challenge each year, I need to start to develop the stats behind the season to help guide development and the squad moving forward. I need to delve a little further into what stats I need and are important and see who has actually performed and who maybe isn't quite up to scratch. More to come on this over the next few years and if anyone has a good stats view I would be happy to see it. I'm gonna scout around other stories to see what other people track.

Key Notes

  • Tim Caton 24k finished in the top 15% for goals and assists across the season. 
  • Dominic DIggin 23b has the worst xG to goals scored with a figure of over -8.
  • Compared to Rafer Trimmingham 24e who had the best xG to goals scored of over +8.
  • Steve Lawrence 24b had almost as many assists in Europe as in the whole League season.
  • Rowan Armstong 22g for only 10 starts out performed many other players and may need more game time next season.
  • The team goals against with out best 4 defensive players was under 1.0 goal per game, over 2 for all other defeners.

Player Breakdown 2027/28


Player Breakdown 2026/27


Player Stats


Edited by theBlackPrince
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Nottingham Forest Season 8 - Pre-Season 2028/29

It was one of the busier transfer periods we have had as we needed to start to move on some players, who despite some good years, are just not Premier League and European Level and can grow no more. But, whilst they are here with us and proven to be able to play, we cashed in and used the money to strengthen the squad and just try and bring a little more veteran leadership to the team. The kids are the future, but we need some older heads to help during these tough runs where we struggled! There are not a huge amount of options to bring in playing the Youth Academy+ model but I feel the additions will made us stronger for another long season.

The big news is we resigned Brennan Johnson from Arsenal (via Leeds) for half the price we sold him for originally. It is great to see Brennan back in Nottingham and will solidify us on that right hand side or up top if we go in that direction. It would also be a return for Anel Ahmedhodzic (For) as the best center back we could buy. We had to pay a hefty sum for him but with money in the bank and moving on some youth prospects, we felt his ability with Joe Worrall at the back is much needed for a few seasons. The interesting move was for Luca Oyen (Leg) who's father, Davy Oyen played for Forest, briefly, in 2003-04. Luca would be born in Nottingham but keeps his Belgian nationality and is the first (Leg) tag (Leg for Forest Legacy). 


2028/29 Nottingham Forest First Team

We have 24 members of the first team this year but no-one new has come from the under 23's for the season. With 3 players bought ready to start, another year in the under 23's might be what they need to springboard into the first team. We have 50% of the team coming from youth prospects, which is down from 58% last season. The vast majority of the youth players are from the 2022, 2023 and 2024 intake with just Greg Morrison 25c making the team from the 2025 intake. There may be a few season gap before we see any more from that intake with the next players looking to step up are from the 2024 intake. 


Looked at the stats in a little more depth for this season as I think we can compete more than we have done before and with youth prospects starting to overtake more senior players, the development and improvements will start to be much more important. I still think a top 6 will be hard this season but that is the aim for the year to keep qualifying for Europe.


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Nottingham Forest Season 8 - Europa League Group Stages 2028/29

Not many would have predicted the away victory in Roma after losing to the Italian at home in the 2nd game. That 2-0 victory in a changed 4-5-1 formation sealed the top position as Roma would lose a shock game to AEK Athens. Every member of the first team squad would get a run out in the group stages which is always a sign of a strong campaign. In fact, all 3 English teams would qualify top of their groups and go to the Second Knockout Round, avoiding an extra two games in the First Knockout Round. 11 goals score, 3 conceded and 13 points from 18, that will do nicely!


Edited by theBlackPrince
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Nottingham Forest Season 8 -Mid-Season Update 2028/29

The 8th intake preview for Head of Youth Development Cary Brazil and if the preview is anything to go by, this could be a great class. I'm not sure we need another elite goalkeeper as Clive Nurse 23a has proved to be a solid #1 and Thomas Wilson 22a is a capable under-study. Full-backs we seem fairly strong, lead by Fernando Thicket 22e and Steve Lawrence 24b, but this is a key position and one we can never have enough depth at. With bringing back Anel Ahmedhodzic (For) to partner Joe Worrall we have a good partnership with Greg Morrison 25c one for the future. We lack much more depth at this stage so having another one for the future here would be the best result from this intake. It has yet to be seen, but what an intake preview.


We moved into the Brian Clough Stadium and we have already filled it out when Tottenham came to visit. 52,951 is a large jump from just over 30,000 8 years ago and by the looks of it, we may be able to fill over 60,000. Maybe, just maybe that will be something we can look at in the future. The League Season started slow and we found ourselves down in 15th place until game week 10. We would then see a fantastic run in November which saw us beating rivals Leicester City before a huge win over Liverpool. We would finish the month with a 2-1 win over a 9 man Leeds United. December was a stable month to solidify a position away from the bottom 5 and a good platform to push on towards European Qualification Place. With 11 teams still in the hunt for Europe and big names such as Arsenal and Liverpool outside the top 6, every place will be fought for.

Have no idea how this season will go from here. We can beat beat anyone but we just don't have the depth yet for a long campaign and with a lot of injuries this season including a broken ankle for Ryan Yates who is not expected to be back until the end of the season now. We have had Luke Thomas (EM) out for 4 months and Emanuel Sanches 24a for 2 months. Let's see if we can secure Europe once more and if we have a few more under 23's developing to step up next season.


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Europa League Update - Second Knockout Round Draw

We draw Spanish side Atletico de Madrid in the Second knockout Round after they beat Swiss side Young Boys in the previous round. They have struggled to compete with the big 2 in Spain in the past 8 years with the best finish recently been 4th with several season's finishing 7th and 8th. However, with 11 International players in their first team, they come with high expectations of defeating a young Nottingham Forest Team. Southampton managed to turn around a 2-3 first leg defeat to Villarreal to also qualify for the 2nd knockout round, joining Forest, Man City and Newcastle as the 4 English representatives. 


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Europa League 2nd Knockout Round 2028-29 - Nottingham Forest vs Atletico de Madrid

Somehow, despite getting dominated in the first leg and only 39% possession, we made one of our 6 shots count and an unlikely hero stepped up in Tim Caton 24k. As most of you who also label prospects from A onward, getting down to K usually means there is not much hope of them becoming a top player. He would win player of the game in both matches and have a hand in 4 of the 5 goals scored. The left winger tormented 39 year old fullback César Azpilicueta who could not slow him down. In the end, the second match which looked likely to be a tight, tense match ended up in a romp and Nottingham was jumping once more with a huge European result.


I really, really don't like the head to head as below, but it could have been much worse! We have a potential road to the final and miss out on playing the likes of Manchester City until then.


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Nigel Doughty Academy Intake 2029

I'll be honest, a little disappointed by the intake at the first glance, let's hope someone shines more than originally thought. With just 2 players that may be a 4 star potential, I was hoping for a couple of them to be 5 star potential but we do have another defender to add to the fold in Tony Hopkinson 29a who can play all positions across the back 4. Let's see if any make it to the first team in a few years time, but so far Gary Brazil has not let us down....


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  • 2 months later...

Europa League Quarter Final 2028-29

We came away from the first leg in a great position despite going two goals down in the first 10 minutes and guess what happened in the second leg, we did exactly the same. This time they kept up the pressure and with a number of injuries and a long season, we crumbled under the pressure. With that, we bow our of Europe for this season but with a place up for grabs back in Europe again in the League, it is all to play for on the season still.


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Nottingham Forest Season 8 Review - Back to Champions League Football

8 season's into the Forest Youth Academy+ Challenge and we have a 4th place finish to qualify for the Champions League. It was looking like it would come down to a last day shoot-out for the final spot between us and Chelsea but a shock 1-0 win over Manchester City all be sealed 4th place and the best finish for Brian Trent in his career. The Europa League would end at the Quarter Final stages, beaten by the would be winners in Southampton. The squad ended up with only 23 players in for the season and with some big injuries, we struggled at times. Hopefully we will have a few under 23's able to make the jump up to the senior team next season.

In other news, out local affiliation with Basford is working well as they dominated the Vanarama National League and earn't their second promotion in 3 seasons to head up into the Football League. We will offer as much support as we can we loan signings next year to enable them to stay in the League Two!



Fixtures 1     Fixtures 2     Affiliates     Basford Promotion


The Squad and Stats

We saw some familiar faces return this year, the biggest with the £40,000,000 price tag was central defender Anel Ahmedhodzic (For) after 4 seasons with Brentford. He was a rock at the back and a large part of the success of the season. Brennan Johnson also found his way home after moving to Leeds then Arsenal before a year on loan with Leicester in the Championship. He has yet to truly find his form but hopefully we soon see what he is capable off. Our first Legacy player buy. Luca Oyen (Leg) had a great first season with 14 goals in all competitions which was 2nd best in the team. the 26 year old now has 8 caps for Belgium and 3 goals to his name. 

The squad now has over 50% of its players from the youth academy and that will only continue to rise as other players get older and the lack of other options from (Not) and even (EM) seems to get smaller. I would love to keep a balance of players from multiple sources, but we will see how that goes over the next few seasons. The "kids" average age is still under 22 so we still have a few more years until many of them enter their prime years as they are still developing. 



Edited by theBlackPrince
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Thank You - Head of Youth Development Gary Brazil - Happy Retirement

In a shock few days, the man, the myth, the legend who brought so many Forest Youngsters into the spotlight, has retired. We cannot thank him enough for the effort and players he has brought through and will be missed by all at the club. I knew he would only have a few more years left but didn't expect a no-notice retirement! Time to go see who is on the market and will lead the hunt for talent moving forward.....


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