Nottingham Forest’s Long Road Back to the Premier League



Nottingham’s resident Tricky Trees have splashed the cash this summer with a number of impressive marquee signings agreeing on a move to the City Ground. They’ve raided the Bundesliga for some of Germany’s top stars, namely Taiwo Awoniyi, Orel Mangala, Moussa Niakhaté, and Omar Richards. They’ve also helped themselves to two of Huddersfield Town’s top stars, the team they beat in the Championship playoff final nonetheless, with both Lewis O’Brien and Harry Toffolo joining the club. As well as that, Liverpool’s Neco Williams — who was so impressive as Fulham claimed the second-tier title last season — has signed as well. But most impressively, Manchester United’s former England internationals Jesse Lingard and Dean Henderson have secured their moves to the banks of the Trent.

If the rumours are to be believed, further additions to be expected, some of which are names that are even bigger than that of Lingard. Chelsea fullback Emerson, Watford’s Emanuel Denis, Atalanta’s Remo Freuler, and Houssem Aouar — who is perhaps the star in Lyon’s crown — are all said to be mulling over moves to the Midlands.

And why wouldn’t Steve Cooper splash the cash? His club are two months removed from winning the most lucrative game in English football, securing their spot in the Premier League for the first time in over 20 years. But if anyone thought it would take that long for Forest to return to the big time, they could think again.

The unthinkable 

It was the 1998/99 season when Nottingham Forest last plied their trade in the English top-flight. 20 years prior under the tutelage of Brian Clough, Nottingham Forest had won back-to-back European Cups. As well as that, the year before they won their first Bif-Eared trophy, they won the old division one title.

But fast forward to the turn of the new millennium, and the club were in disarray. Their relegation took no one by surprise, however. They had flirted with the trap door 1999 marked the third time in seven years that the club had been relegated, but this time, there was to be no immediate return.

Playoff heartache and another relegation 

Their first season back in the second tier was a disappointing one, but in their second campaign, they thrived. The strike partnership of David Johnson and Marlon Harewood ensure that they finished in the playoffs however, goals in extra time from Paul Peschisolido and a Des Walker own goal ensured that it was Sheffield United who played in the showpiece in Cardiff.


Things would only go from bad to worse after that, and two year’s later, the club had been relegated to the third tier of English football. They would spend four years in the doldrums of League One, including a humbling 5-2 playoff semifinal defeat at the hands of Yeovil Town, one of the lowest points in the club’s history.

Mid-table mediocrity 

Forest secured their return to the Championship back in 2008, but more playoff heartache was to follow. They would lose semifinals in consecutive years to Ian Holloway’s Blackpool and Brendan Rodgers’ Swansea City, and unfortunately for the Reds, that was as good as it got.

While their local rivals Leicester City were shocking the footballing world, Forest couldn’t get back to the level that they used to be at. Forest continually finished in midtable and the club looked like it was stuck in the mud. That was until the appointment of Steve Cooper last season.

Back to the top 

The former Swansea manager galvanized the Tricky Trees last season. When he took over the club they lay bottom of the Championship. But an incredible run of form took them all the way to the playoffs. They firstly defeated Sheffield United on penalties – their first semifinal victory in five attempts. Then they would beat another Yorkshire club, Huddersfield Town, in the final, with Levi Colwill’s own goal enough to secure victory.

Cooper has already worked wonders in the Midlands, and he will go down in folklore as the man who ended Nottingham Forest’s drought at the highest level. But if he can add a couple more signings of the same ilk as the rumour mill is suggesting, then the sky truly is the limit for Nottingham’s finest.