With attentions turning towards presents under the tree, mulled wine by the open fire and a festive turkey roast with loved ones, I decided to cast my mind back to this time last year when Nottingham Forest were preparing to take on Middlesbrough in the Sky Bet Championship, having fallen way off the place in the race for a play-off place.
The Reds were subsequently thumped 3-0 in a dire display at the Riverside Stadium in what was the beginning of the end for Stuart Pearce’s reign as manager of the club.
As Christmas falls upon us yet again, it begs the question of whether the Reds are in a more solid place now than they were this time last season, despite the club sitting in the bottom half of the league at present.
Last season we had raced out of the blocks and saw the wheels catastrophically fall off around Christmas time, with bland football and very little in the way of style and substance.
Admittedly things haven’t always been sweetness and light on the pitch under the leadership of Dougie Freedman, but the club does now look to have a sense of direction in the short-term, at least.
The bad football under Freedman has been shocking, ten times worse than anything under Pearce, but the good play, it has to be said, has been one hundred times better than anything the side played under the Forest legend and let’s not forget the restrictions placed upon the current boss.
It is Christmas after all and I penned these thoughts intending to be positive and thankfully the last seven games have enabled me to offer a positive outlook on being a Nottingham Forest supporter once more, so let’s keep the previous regime out of minds for now.
The 14 points picked up during the last couple of months represent the same amount that the club amassed during the first 15 games of the season and for me the board, and Fawaz Al Hasawi in particular, deserve immense credit for finally sticking with a manager.
I do often wonder just how big a part former FA Chief Executive Adrain Bevington has played in Fawaz’s decision to stick with the current manager, with Bevington now working for the Reds in an advisory role.
This festive period sees reasons for optimism for us of a red persuasion on Trentside and Sunday sees us back on home soil to take on Leeds United, who will be buoyed by some recent good form of their own.
Forest now have nothing to fear and have proven in wins over Derby County and Reading this season that they can match the most star-studded of line-ups in this division, particularly at home.
Working at a club such as Nottingham Forest will always mean that certain expectations are placed upon your shoulders, particularly if you are in the managerial hot-seat.
Freedman deserves a huge glass of the strong stuff this Christmas, for working tirelessly to try and revive the fortunes of the football club. Okay, so he wasn’t a popular choice for the job, indeed for some supporters he still isn’t the right man, but you cannot knock his commitment.
I know what you are thinking; Stuart Pearce had commitment and passion for the club. He did but ultimately failed to bring success and our performances towards the end of his reign suggested that he had lost the dressing room, Freedman has never had that and during the bad results under his management, the team’s performances have still been relatively decent.
The Scottish manager clearly cares about doing what is best for Nottingham Forest and must be praised for the signings he has recruited, despite working under strict transfer embargo rules.
The likes of Nelson Oliveira, Ryan Mendes and Dani Pinillos were all relatively unknown until they arrived at the City Ground, yet they have represented three of the Reds’ better performers this season.
Add to those Jamie Ward and Matt Mills who Freedman recruited on free transfers and on contracts of no more than £10k per-week – we’re under an embargo you know - and you have the makings of a really shrewd business maker.
I would like to extend a Christmas thank you to Dougie and his staff for coming out fighting for the football club and not shirking away when the going got tough in the way of results.
Long may the current form continue, and hopefully this time next year us Nottingham Forest supporters will have even more cause for optimism.
Here’s to the next year!