Forest struggles are a shock to Preston boss Alex Neil

Nottingham Forest’s struggles at the bottom end of the Championship this season have surprised many people, among them Preston North End manager Alex Neil.

Thursday, 31st December 2020, 4:45 pm
Chris Hughton

The City Ground outfit sit fourth bottom ahead of their visit to Deepdale which marks the half-way mark of the 2020/21 campaign.

Forest were expected to be among the front-runners for promotion, however Neil thinks a hangover from a dramatic final night of last season has hit them hard.

They looked well on course for a play-off place when the campaign resumed after the three-month shutdown.

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But they failed to win any of their last six games and slipped out of the top-six after losing 4-1 at home to Stoke, with Swansea pipping them for the final play-off slot.

Neil said: “I am surprised where they are when you look at their squad.

“I can’t speak for Forest as I’m not there but looking from the outside I think the hangover from dropping out of the top six last season has had an over-riding affect on things there.

“They have got a talented squad, together with a talented and experienced manager in Chris Hughton.

“Chris has been there and done it. I think everyone looking at them and probably Derby, in terms of the squads they have, will think they aren’t going to be down there for very long.

“If you are sitting in their boat, you’ll be thinking that is fine to say that but we need the results to get out of it.

“They have more than enough in their squad and more enough on their staff to get up the table.”

Hughton was appointed manager in early October after Sabri Lamouchi was sacked.

With Forest’s history of changing managers in recent years, it probably came as a surprise that Lamouchi survived the summer.

Four straight defeats at the start of this season and another in the Carabao Cup saw the axe fall on Lamouchi and Forest turned to the experience of Hughton.

He had done a fine job in taking Brighton to the Premier League and keeping them there.

Hughton has not found the Forest job straight forward though, overseeing only four victories.

As Neil references though, there should be enough in the squad to climb away from those bottom rungs.

They have a large number of players on the payroll although the 25-man squad limit means some are not registered for Championship action.

In the summer Forest did a large amount of business, completing 10 permanent deals and signing four players on loan – Anthony Knockaert (Fulham), Luke Freeman (Sheffield United),

Cyrus Christie (Fulham) and Cafu (Olympiakos).

Permanent signings inlcuded Lyle Taylor from Charlton and Bournemouth’s Harry Arter.

The big departure was Matty Cash who was sold to Aston Villa for £14m.