Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Window Shopping

As seemingly every other team in English football worked itself into a frenzy of buying and selling on Transfer Deadline Day, fans of Nottingham Forest could sit back and watch in beatific peace, happy in the knowledge that - for once - our business had been done early and done well. Whilst the greedy amongst us might have been hoping for one last surprise, it's fair to say that it wasn't really necessary. On a day where, historically, Forest fans would have been fretting over the need for a striker or left-back; there wasn't a murmur of discontent when the chimes of Big Ben marked 11PM and not a single new player had been paraded in the Garibaldi.

Though Deadline Day itself passed off without a whimper, the window as a whole had been busy and fruitful. Here's a summary of what happened:

Ins
Outs
Player
Fee
Player
Fee
Michail Antonio
£1.5m
Simon Cox
£600k
Britt Assombalonga
£5.5m
Karl Darlow
£3.5m
Chris Burke
Free
Matt Derbyshire
Released
Karl Darlow
Season-long loan
Rafik Djebbour
Contract cancelled
Danny Fox
Free
Dimitar Evtimov
6 month loan
Matty Fryatt
Free
Simon Gillett
Released
Jack Hunt
6 month loan
Jonathan Greening
Released
Louis Laing
Free
Darius Henderson
Contract cancelled
Jamaal Lascelles
Season-long loan
Gonzalo Jara
Released
Michael Mancienne
£1m
Jamaal Lascelles
£3.5m
Roger Riera
Free
Jamie Mackie
Season-long loan
Robert Tesche
Free
Radoslaw Majewski
Season-long loan
David Vaughan
Free
Ishmael Miller
Released
Lars Veldwijk
£500k
David Morgan
Released
Guy Moussi
Released
Marcus Tudgay
Released
TOTAL SPEND
£8.5m
TOTAL RECEIVED
£7.6m
NET SPEND
£900k
Note - Some of these transfer fees may not be entirely accurate as they were offcially recorded as undisclosed.

The sheer number of players moving to and from the club showed exactly what a job new manager Stuart Pearce had on his hands and it's testament to both he and the club's hierarchy that, as we reflect after the transfer window has closed, we can do so with arguably the strongest and most balanced squad we've had in many, many years.

Pearce saw where the squad had weaknesses and addressed them. The lack of goals was mitigated by signing three new strikers. The need for pace was acknowledged and remedied by signing two flying machines in a day. The need for cover for last season's main creative forces of Andy Reid and Henri Lansbury was noted and sorted. And the icing on the cake was persuading Henri to sign a new deal with the club, when it looked for all the world as if he were leaving.

This couldn't all be done without some cost and this came in the form of the sales of academy products Karl Darlow and Jamaal Lascelles to Newcastle United. However, even this was turned to the club's advantage with the subsequent purchases of Michail Antonio and club record signing Britt Assombalonga. If we'd have kept Karl and Jamaal and not signed Michail and Britt then the squad would've looked decent; but by making those sales, loaning the sold players back and bringing in the two signings, decent was transformed into pacey, strong and threatening.

Of course we've been here before with squads that look strong on paper, but this time it looks really good. We've got a few flexible players who can operate in a number of positions, we've got pace where it's needed, we've got guile and craft and a number of players who can turn a match in a moment and, most important of all, we've got cover. I can't imagine we'll have an injury list anything like last season's - I certainly hope not anyway - but if we do then this time round it seems we'd be better equipped to deal with it.

It's early days yet but already a number of the new signings look inspired. Chris Burke and Matt Fryatt have showed all the quality and experience we expected. Michael Mancienne has looked composed in defence, whilst Jack Hunt has offered a great attacking option from right-back. Michail Antonio can look clumsy, but his delivery has been good and his ability in the air at the back post has been an unexpected bonus and, in Britt Assombalonga, we've finally got a striker who will terrorise opposition defences. His pace and directness will cause problems against anyone in this league and, whilst he still has to hone his decision making at times, his work-rate more than makes up for this.

Hopefully, following this current international break, we'll have a fully fit squad to choose from. A squad that - as it gets to know itself and its manager more closely - will only get better. We're currently unbeaten yet haven't really played that well. If we really start firing on all cylinders then........watch out league.


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