Meet the opposition: Nottingham Forest
As Swansea City get set to take on Nottingham Forest this weekend, we take a closer look at the men from the City Ground.
What’s their story?
Nottingham Forest have just begun their 11th successive season in the Championship.
They have a fine history, having won the title in 1977-78 and then – unforgettably – lifted the European Cup in the following two campaigns.
They also have two FA Cups and four League Cups in a packed trophy cabinet.
Forest have not played in the Premier League for 19 years, however, and are desperate to reclaim a place at English football’s top table.
They last came close in 2011, when they were beaten in the play-offs by Swansea City.
Their best finish since then was eighth in 2012-13. Last season they ended up 17th, but have been widely tipped to push for promotion this term.
How’s their form?
It has been a steady start to the new season for Forest, who have shown some promising signs in the early stages of 2018-19.
They did not lose any of their first seven games in all competitions, with league draws against Bristol City, West Brom, Wigan and Birmingham plus a 1-0 victory over Reading.
Forest also saw off Bury – on penalties – and Premier League Newcastle in the Carabao Cup before the unbeaten sequence came to an end at Brentford in their most recent Championship outing.
Who’s their boss?
Aitor Karanka. The former Athletic Bilbao and Real Madrid defender is in his second managerial post having previously held the reins at Middlesbrough.
Karanka learned his trade at the Bernabeu as assistant to Jose Mourinho before landing the Boro job in 2013.
After reaching the play-off final in 2014-15, Karanka steered the Riverside club into the Premier League in 2016, but left the following spring with his team facing an immediate return to the second tier.
He took charge at Forest in January this year following the departure of Mark Warburton.
Who are the key men?
It has been a turbulent summer at Forest, with no fewer than 16 players coming into the club as part of an overhaul led by Karanka.
A raft of players have departed – including Barrie McKay – to make way for the fresh faces.
Portuguese youngsters Gil Dias (Monaco) and Diogo Goncalves (Benfica) arrived on loan along with the likes of Costel Pantilimon (Watford), Jack Colback (Newcastle) and Sam Byram (West Ham), although the latter has picked up a worrying knee injury.
Players like Ben Watson, Adlene Guedioura, Claudio Yacob and Michael Dawson offer plenty of Premier League know-how.
Forest spent a whopping £13 million on Portuguese midfielder Joao Carvalho (above), who arrived from Benfica, plus £6 million on Lewis Grabban, a proven goalscorer in the second tier.
Yet it is homegrown midfielder Matty Cash who currently leads the Forest scoring charts with four goals ahead of veteran targetman Daryl Murphy (above), who has netted three times in five appearances this season.