Nottingham Forest made their supporters sweat this season, with the Reds only securing survival with a 3-0 final-day victory over Ipswich Town.
But despite the narrow margin of their escape, there’s reason to believe the coming season will see a marked improvement for the East Midlands outfit.
Talented squad will progress next term
A lack of cohesion has marked Forest’s performances this season, with the Reds struggling to find a settled style – a problem largely borne out of instability in the managerial hotseat, as well as a couple of major exits under former boss Philippe Montanier. But you can expect that to change next term.
There’s no doubt we’ll see better under the steady hand of Mark Warburton. Prodigiously talented forward Zach Clough has shown flashes of his ability, and is likely to shake off his inconsistency with more game-time under his belt.
Elsewhere, experienced former players like Eric Lichaj, Mustapha Carayol and Jamie Ward know the Championship inside-out and can offer a good deal more than what we’ve seen from them this term.
With Warburton likely to add some typically savvy signings in this summer’s transfer window – his first as Forest boss – and young talents like Joe Worrall and Jorge Grant beginning to bloom, expect a lift in performance across the park.
Warburton’s promotion track record is excellent
If Forest are to find themselves in the upper echelons of the table at any stage next term, they’ve got the perfect manager to keep them there. Mark Warburton has won automatic promotion on both sides of the border – with Brentford and Rangers respectively – and knows exactly how to handle that pressure.
And he doesn’t need a much-fancied side to contend for promotion.
Many were sceptical of Brentford’s ability to survive in the second tier following promotion to the Championship in 2013-14, but Warburton led his side to a fifth-placed finish at the first time of asking. And he did so with a squad objectively weaker than the current Forest crop.
Reds’ forward line can dominate the division
The dubious honour of possessing the Championship’s second-leakiest defence overshadowed the goalscoring prowess of the Reds, whose tally of 64 bested 15 of the division’s other 23 sides – including fourth-placed Sheffield Wednesday.
Thankfully for Warburton, the key men behind that impressive tally are all tied to the club for at least the next 12 months. That includes the prolific and powerful Britt Assombalonga, Apostos Vellios, Clough, and talented midfielder Ben Osborn.
With a well-balanced strike force which blends flair with physicality, and hard-workers with clinical finishers, don’t be surprised to see Forest top that figure of 62 next term.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing