Having ended their 23-year exile from the Premier League, Nottingham Forest began the season hoping to establish themselves as a top-flight club.
Looking to bolster plans to avoid a swift return to the Championship, the Tricky Trees were one of the busiest clubs in the transfer windows.
Forest added an astonishing 21 recruits last summer before signing a further seven in January, leading to concerns that their splurging could disrupt the team cohesion.
However, fast forward nine months later, and they have defied the odds to survive relegation in their debut Premier League campaign.
Here’s Nottingham Forest’s 2022/23 season review.
Player of the Year: Taiwo Awoniyi
Taiwo Awoniyi was at the forefront of Forest’s survival bid, with the Nigerian striker notching ten goals, including the all-important strike in the 1-0 victory over Arsenal that confirmed their top-flight stay.
Brennan Johnson and Morgan Gibbs-White were also standout performers. They played their part in ensuring Forest survived the drop with 24 goal contributions between them.
Performance of the season
Welcoming Liverpool to City Ground in October proved a defining moment in Forest’s season.
They were on a nine-match winless streak before hosting the Reds and needed a victory to lift the mood around the club.
The odds were stacked against them, but a stroke of luck allowed Awoniyi to score and Forest’s astute defending did the rest as they rallied to a famous 1-0 win.
While success over Liverpool will be etched in the club’s rich history, it pales in comparison to the victory over Arsenal that confirmed their place in the Premier League next season.
Disappointment of the season
Forest began the campaign with survival as the primary objective. They have endured a season plagued with more lows than highs, but they have achieved their goal.
Steve Cooper’s future at the club was questioned several times throughout the campaign, but the Forest bosses were steadfast in their resolve to back the manager, and he repaid their faith.
Surviving the drop should prove their first step toward long-term plans of establishing themselves as a top-flight club.
What do the stats say?
Forest will end the season sitting 16th in the Premier League table, having picked up 38 points throughout the campaign – four above the relegation zone.
They scored 38 goals from 33 big chances created (1.3 per game), with a scoring ratio of 1.0 per match.
Despite the paltry statistics, their goals to big chances ratio shows how clinical Forest were in front of goal. However, Cooper will not be impressed when reviewing his side’s defensive statistics.
Bringing in Dean Henderson and Keylor Navas proved shrewd business by the Reds, with both goalkeepers amassing seven clean sheets between them.
However, it did little to stop Forest from shipping in a worrisome 68 goals – the joint fourth-highest in the division, with only Leeds United, Southampton and Bournemouth conceding more.
There are several areas in which Cooper will need his side to improve ahead of next season, especially their alarming 1.86 goals conceded per match ratio.
However, the stats will matter little to the Tricky Trees faithful, who will delight in their astonishing achievement, and optimism about better things to come will abound.
Getting a taste of top-flight football after a 23-year absence was an achievement in itself. But Forest have proven they are not a one-season wonder.
Cooper should be credited for pulling off yet another exceptional feat in Tricky Trees dugout, as galvanising a bloated squad while striving to reach their goal was no small task.
The Welsh tactician had already secured himself a place in Forest folklore after last season, and his popularity will only increase after avoiding the drop.
Forest will now switch their attention to the season ahead with a long-term goal of establishing themselves as a Premier League club still on track.
However, more reinforcements from the transfer market will be required to bolster their chances of surviving the drop again next season.
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