Forest Regeneration: The Tricky Trees Are Doing It The Right Way This Summer

After signing 30 players last season, Nottingham Forest have streamlined their approach
08:00, 07 Aug 2023

Nottingham Forest signed no less than 30 players last season. That’s more players than most squads have. In amongst this veritable mountain of footballers they then had to try and fit in the holdovers from the previous season’s Championship Play-Off winning side. Admittedly there weren’t many, which was part of the issue. But buying 30 players in one fell swoop is something not many clubs attempt and with good reason.

Fast forward a year and Forest remain a Premier League team. It took an age for this disparate band of ballers to gel but when they did, manager Steve Cooper moulded them into a team good enough to come 16th in the Premier League.


Some of that vast influx did well during the survival season. Morgan Gibbs-White was an inspired capture from Wolverhampton Wanderers. Dean Henderson impressed on loan from Manchester United and, when he was injured mid-season, Keylor Navas of Paris Saint-Germain was equally outstanding.

But for these successes there were also plenty of failures. Jesse Lingard failed to recapture the scintillating form he’d shown at West Ham United after joining on a free from Old Trafford. Emmanuel Dennis failed to live up to his early Watford promise. Jonjo Shelvey showed why Newcastle United cut ties at the right time. 

It is the nature of such a vast spending spree that some moves will work and others won’t. Which is why Forest have adapted their approach this season. Moving for quality not quantity, the Tricky Trees have actually had one of the better Premier League windows for a club of their scale. 

Anthony Elanga has joined from Manchester United. The young winger was an energetic presence at Old Trafford, particularly when given consistent game time under Ralf Rangnick. The Swede is raw but fast and undaunted taking on his full back. At the age of 21 he has the chance to develop into a real talent at the City Ground. Elanga is not the only United starlet to sign, with 18-year-old Manni Norkett joining on a free.


Newcastle United’s Chris Wood returns after spending the second half of last season at Forest on loan. An experienced forward, he was a fixture in Sean Dyche’s Burnley side that consistently overperformed. His influence will be vital as Forest face another relegation battle. 

Nigeria’s former Chelsea youth full back Ola Aina also joins after impressing in Serie A for Torino. A free transfer, Forest are focusing more on canny moves than all-out financial splurging to achieve their goals this season.

After a hurried and faintly ridiculous summer last year, Forest aren’t making as many headlines this August. But they should be. Quietly, carefully, Cooper and his recruitment team are going about things the right way. The pieces are being put in place to improve upon last season’s 16th place. If they keep going in this manner they might just do it.

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