When they were relegated from the Premier League at the end of the 1998-99 season, nobody imagined it would take so long for Nottingham Forest to return. Despite having become something of a yo-yo club during the last decade of the 1990’s, they always had the knack of making a quick return to the English elite.
End of an era and the yo-yo years
After leading the club to numerous monumental triumphs, including back-to-back European Cup triumphs in the 1978-79 and 1979-80, legendary manager Brian Clough eventually retired at the conclusion of the first 1992-93 Premier League season. Sadly, he departed with the club suffering relegation, then Frank Clark was tasked with rebuilding a legacy at the City Ground and starting a new era.
Clark led Forest to immediate promotion in the 1993-94 season, then led what appeared to be a team with newfound belief and confidence to third in the Premier League, following an exceptional 1994-95 campaign. The 1995-96 campaign concluded with a run to the UEFA Cup quarter-finals and 9th position in the Premier League, although another slump followed in 1996-97.
Clark was fired midway through that campaign, with iconic player Stuart Pearce combining his playing duties with those of caretaker manager, before being replaced by Dave Bassett. He couldn’t stop the rot, yet he was immediately capable getting Forest immediately promoted again in 1997-98. But once again, Forest struggled to maintain their Premier League status, with Bassett fired and Ron Atkinson unable to save the team from relegation in 1998-99.
Fall from grace
Being outside the Premier League again, this was hardly how Nottingham Forest wanted to greet the twenty-first century. After all, this was a club with a proud history that should have been competing amongst the best in England. Nevertheless, there would be no swift return and this time, the situation would get worse.
Unable to mount a worthy bid for promotion, Nottingham Forest fans endured further humiliation at the end of the 2004-05 campaign, watching on in horror as their team was relegated to the third tier of English football. It would ultimately take three seasons for them to get back up to the second tier and the Championship, winning promotion at the end of the 2007-08 season.
Forest narrowly avoided relegation the following 2008-09 season, then mounted two solid bids for promotion from the Championship without success. Relative mediocrity would follow during the following decade, as Nottingham Forest never came close to promotion, while sometimes flirting with relegation to the third tier again.
The long road back to the top
Following a poor start to the 2020-21 season, French coach Sabri Lamouchi was fired by October and replaced by Chris Hughton, who managed to steer the team away from relegation. Nevertheless, after a failing to win any of their opening seven matches of the 2021-22, Hughton found himself sacked by September, as fans braced themselves for another season of obscurity.
Fortunately, following the appointment of promising young manager Steve Cooper, results and performance began to steadily improve. The 42-year-old brought greater confidence and instilled a ‘big club mentality’ within the squad, which began to pay dividends as Forest gradually climbed up the league table. Heading into the final stretch of the season, consistent form and positive results pushed this rejuvenated team to fourth position and the Playoffs.
Despite being 1-2 victors away at Sheffield United in the first leg of the Playoff semi-finals, Forest were pegged back to 3-3 on aggregate by the visitors, after 90 minutes at the City Ground. They manage to win through after extra time and penalties. The Championship Playoff Final was just as tense at Wembley Stadium, but thanks to an own goal by Huddersfield Town defender Levi Colwill, his pain ended Forest’s 23-year top-flight drought.
Are Nottingham Forest back to stay?
Having waited so long and suffered so much over the last 23 seasons, nobody would begrudge fans of Nottingham Forest the opportunity to enjoy themselves a little. Surviving in the Premier League will undoubtedly be tough, as many of the leading bookmakers have already earmarked them as favourites to be relegated back to the Championship.
Football fans all around the globe have congratulated the return of Nottingham Forest, hopeful the club will retain its hard-earned Premier League status. Likewise, via the latest SBO guides covering online sports betting around the world, punters can discover a wealth of insights and information, covering where to find the best odds and offers available.
Of course, as Nottingham Forest head into the 2022-23 season, back where many fans believe this famous and historic English club rightfully belongs, they will also need to back their manager in the transfer market. Already, they are being linked with various interesting options and if the club spends wisely, they could strengthen a team which proves capable of keeping this club’s seat at the top table of the English game.