Club records, second thoughts and revolving doors: inside Forest’s frenetic window

Club records, second thoughts and revolving doors: inside Forest’s frenetic window

Club records, second thoughts and revolving doors: inside Forest’s frenetic window

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“So basically Marinakis and Dane Murphy have this tactic where we literally sign every player from every other club so that on match days the other teams can’t field a starting XI and we win by default. It’s brilliant, ”the meme says. And it seemed like this was the case in Nottingham Forest sometime during the summer.

The hard work began last season when Forest made an unexpected spike for the Premier League. Two lists of objectives have been drawn up, one for the Championship and the other for the top flight. In mid-June Steve Cooper and Murphy, the CEO, agreed on who they wanted and who they wanted. Dean Henderson was an update on Brice Samba, Neco Williams would be targeted on Djed Spence, and Taiwo Awoniyi was the ideal number 9. Cooper was adamant that Morgan Gibbs-White was crucial to his plan and a two-month long trial for the club’s transfer record began.

Related: Verdict on the summer transfer window: how it went to all clubs in the Premier League

Since that first meeting, 21 players have arrived after countless offers and requests. As Cooper struggles to explain, this level of recruitment was necessary to make the forest competitive. The core of their team last season was made up of players on loan, who all left alongside their goalkeeper and club captain. It cannot be forgotten that before Cooper’s arrival, Forest was the bottom of the rankings.

Overall, 22 have left some of the margins something forgotten among the titles of the purchases. There was always a plan to hire young players with the potential to improve and be sold for profit. The Bundesliga was seen as a reasonable hunting ground, with Forest looking to find value and German clubs eager to make money. Awoniyi broke Forest’s transfer record, followed by Moussa Niakhaté, Omar Richards and Orel Mangala.

By the end of July, 10 players had joined; only Harry Toffolo, substitute goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey and Jesse Lingard were over 26 years old. There is no escaping the fact that Lingard was a fundamental turning point in the summer business. He wasn’t on the original target list. He showed that Forest was willing to push the boat out to sign someone with a proven Premier League pedigree. It was a deal that Miltiadis Marinakis, son of the owner Evangelos, took control of. This was a summer theme. When Renan Lodi was cast as a potential arrival, it was seen as a pipe dream, but Militiadis made it, to the surprise of some within the club as well.

Steve Cooper with Jesse Lingard.

Steve Cooper with Jesse Lingard, whose capture was a turning point in the Nottingham Forest summer. Photography: Zac Goodwin / PA

Amadou Onana and Ibrahim Sangaré were key goals in midfield, as players able to provide Cooper with the athleticism and quality needed to ruffle feathers, but neither agreement went through. Onana went to Everton and Sangaré signed a new contract with PSV Eindhoven.

The forest has left its mark on the window in more ways than one. They made bids on a plethora of players before retiring. An agent told the Guardian that he had entered into talks with the club on five occasions for a player and then Forest stopped answering the phone. Other clubs believe Forest has distorted the market with their own expenses.

The club worked around the clock to finalize the deals, with calls made around the clock to help build a team worthy of Forest’s first Premier League season in 23 years. On opening day, however, not all pieces of the puzzle were in place and Newcastle made light work on Forest with a 2-0 win. There was an awareness that experience was needed to meet the demands of the top flight. A reconfiguration of what was needed took place and experience was sought to help the young talent. Cheikhou Kouyaté, Remo Freuler and Emmanuel Dennis teamed up before the second game, bringing Premier League, Champions League and international experience.

Claims were made on a range of other players, from Neal Maupay to Patrick van Aanholt, to add depth, but a home win over West Ham, in front of a bouncy City Ground, was enough to prove the team was on the right track. below Cooper, and calm returned.

The following week the club’s transfer record was broken again for the player Cooper has always wanted: Gibbs-White. The club paid £ 25m upfront and more will follow in add-ons for the wing. Cooper had been given the opportunity to move on to other goals. PSV Eindhoven’s Cody Gakpo was suggested, but Cooper was adamant that Gibbs-White, a player he knows well, would provide whatever he wanted.

Entering deadline day it was 18 through the East Midlands revolving door, but there was still work to be done. After Niakhaté got injured, it was decided that more pace in defense was needed, something exposed against Tottenham and Manchester City. A deal for Japhet Tanganga was deemed too complicated, so central defenders Willy Boly and Loïc Badé joined forces. Winger Josh Bowler arrived from Blackpool and immediately went on loan to Olympiakos.

Fittingly, there was drama all the way to the end when a late push to sign Michy Batshuayi from Chelsea failed in the final minutes. Serge Aurier will be confirmed soon on his 22nd purchase, but then peace of mind can settle on Forest. Cooper knows who he will work with at least until January. The club is confident that they have assembled a young and talented squad capable of remaining in the league, and for them that is all that matters.

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