Moussi set to sign..

It’s been probably the worst kept secret of the weekend, after Guy Moussi let slip he was signing for the Reds.  He joins from Angers who are currently in the second tier of the French league, having just been promoted – sound familiar?  He’s 23 years old, and is a defensive midfielder; so presumably a replacement for Sammy Clingan (who I don’t think is a holding midfielder anyway, despite him being frequently deployed there).  £300k is the price being suggested for him, so welcome on board, Guy!

He’s agreed personal terms and is undergoing a medical, and according to the Evening Post, could be the first of several incoming players this week.  Andy Cole has been touted as a surprising addition to the squad, having been released by Sunderland after a not-particularly-involved spell with the Mackems. 

The remaining rumours centre around Stephen Clements from Leicester, who is said to be keen to leave the relegated Foxes.  Although judging by past transfer windows, there’s bound to be a few curve balls in the mix to give us a surprise or two.  Either way, it’s nice to see players arriving, albeit in the case of Moussi one I have no idea about.  Hearing Doughty speak about further signings and trying to build a team for us to be proud of, it’s hard not to get more than a little bit excited about the forthcoming season!

More signings expected soon?

It’s always a risky prospect for the possibly beyond-bronzen looking Smoulders (apparently he’s being sponsored by Cuprinol next season) to comment in the press that things are moving on the transfer front.  Indeed, I seem to recall he’s done so before only for bugger all to happen due to last-minute hitches, so I would hope that this kind of announcement on the official site would mean that deals are remarkably close to being struck to bring more much needed depth to the Forest squad.

We’ve been linked with Helguson and McCormack over the last few days, although the whispers I hear (which are wrong as ofter as they’re right, I might add!) point towards Barry Nicholson from Aberdeen; which would be another excellent piece of business in my opinion.  Whilst the hair-tearing has been going on it’s clear that Forest have been out working on addressing our concerns, and It’s quite right that they do so in relative privacy.

So I’m heartened, I am hoping that Smoulders has learned from his past similar comments to the media which turned out to be a little optimistic (or, perhaps more pertinently, patent bullshit!) that what transpired to happen.  Whether it be attempts to lure Neil Danns or sign Leon Best from Coventry, he’s said similar things to these and then failed to land his man – for whatever reason.  So having had his fingers burned, perhaps now he is commenting because he knows that things are practically in the bag.

Certainly it gives a renewed reason to check the news feeds and message boards a bit more frequently than I have been doing; because frankly the summer months does tend to bring out the worst in those particular channels of information!

Anderson loan completed..

As the tempers fray around the internet, and as Forest fans get increasingly despondant, Forest have been quietly going about their business to redress the balance of incomings and outgoings so far this summer – and have pulled off quite a coup in doing so.  Paul Anderson has agreed to a season-long loan from Liverpool, opting to join the Reds rather than Swansea City, where he enjoyed a successful loan spell last season.

He fits with Forest’s fixation on young players, and is also relatively local – hailing from Melton Mowbray, so in a way we’ve replaced somebody with a pie fixation for somebody who hails from the town of pies!  Certain an impact player in midfield which is something we’ve craved particularly with the absence of Commons, although despite capable of operating on either flank he’s primarily considered to be a right winger as far as I can make out.

Checking out some Liverpool site previews (which leaves a bad taste, but after all, they did loan him to us!) suggests that he’s hoped to be a breakthrough player in their first team – of course, those who remember Michael Stewart will remember United hoped similar things for him; but it’s a promising sign that we’re taking on a player with prospects who is very much in the mould of player type we are craving.

So well done Smoulds and co, although don’t go resting on your laurels, we need some more!!

Don’t panic, Mr Mainwaring!

As Corporal Jones might say.

That’s the message Kenny Burns has given in his latest column in the Evening Post, and the man speaks a lot of sense.  There’s delirium sweeping the airwaves regarding the disparity between incomings and outgoings at Forest over recent days.  Which is understandable, to an extent, but there’s a fair chunk of time to go for us to get the necessary reinforcements.

Of course, Smoulds and co did themselves no favours by proudly announcing that automatic promotion would give us the opportunity to ‘steal a march’ on our opponents in our transfer dealings; because aside from the protracted acquisition of Earnshaw, there’s been little other movement on the transfer front, whilst Commons, Clingan, possibly Agogo and almost certainly Grant Holt will have exited.

So, fellow fans, take a chill pill.  Of course, as the season draws closer we will almost certainly all be getting twitchier – by which point it will be fair enough to start criticising.  Hopefully a couple of signings will transpire over the next week just to still some of those over-active pulses doing the rounds on the internet.

Worse than the imbalance on the transfer front, we’re only on bloody telly against Reading for the opening day – well shit a brick, as if it wasn’t a challenging enough fixture without unleashing the Sky curse on us from the offset! 

However, rather than end by making us feel grumpy, take a look at what’s happened to Leicester City today… the Milan Mandaric circus down Fosse Way looks set to be on good form going into a new season!

Forest can’t Clingan to Sammy..

This has come as a bitter disappointment to me; today Sammy Clingan has agreed to sign a deal for two years at Championship rivals Norwich City once his contract at Forest expires at the end of the month.

There had been lots of speculation linking Sammy to fellow East Anglians Ipswich Town, and to Queens Park Rangers too – but it’s the Canaries who have captured his signature in their first signing of the season, and it represents the third significant departure from the Reds after Commons and Agogo have both moved on since promotion just over a month ago, with only Earnshaw coming the other way.

Whilst I’m yet to panic, it does concern me that our players are being lured to teams who – on the face of it – shouldn’t be any more tempting a proposition than we are.  Of course, if suitable replacements are secured then that’s fine, but it’s always worrying when a transfer window starts with rather one-way traffic.

Sammy tends to get mixed reviews from Reds fans; personally I’m a huge fan of his contribution since he’s been with us.  For us his energy has largely been deployed as a combatitive holding midfielder rather than the forward-bursting role he plays for his country.  I’ve seen him referred to as ‘Sammy Sideways’ and ‘Sammy Centre Circle’, which I feel does him a massive disservice.  He’s been excellent at breaking up play this season, and to me I think he’s a massive pair of boots to fill.

Upon the capture, Norwich manager Glenn Roeder said:

“I’m extremely happy to secure the signature of Sammy Clingan. He is a player we watched a number of times during a successful promotion season at Nottingham Forest last year. We felt that he was the driving force in their midfield and we look forward to him continuing his career in an upward curve with us.  He is a Northern Ireland international with lots of experience. Having met him he struck me as having the drive and motivation that I’m looking for in my players.”

Sammy himself declared Norwich a ‘big’ club compared to Forest’s mere ‘good’ club status, it doesn’t bode so positively for Forest that he singles out the manager and facilities as his motivation for choosing to move on.

“I’m absolutely delighted to be joining a big club like Norwich City. I’m leaving a good club, Nottingham Forest, to join Norwich and I’m really looking forward to trying to get them promoted to the Premier League.

“Once I had spoken to Glenn Roeder and viewed the fantastic facilities at the Club it was an easy decision to make. I knew of Glenn’s managerial reputation, working with big name players in the Premier League and hopefully he will help me become a better player too. I was very impressed with what he said and his plans for the future – it really caught me and now I can’t wait for the first game.”

Of course, players have to talk the talk when they sign for a new club, but I am left very disappointed that he clearly felt that Forest couldn’t compete with Norwich in these areas.  Forest now have a job on their hands to find credible replacements for three key players from last season, arguably they have done so for Agogo by buying Earnshaw, but boy oh boy could we do with some incoming signings to ease everyone’s worries.

Good luck Sammy, except against us of course – I for one have appreciated your contribution to our success last season, and I’m sorry you didn’t feel it right to stick around to take it on a step.  Smoulds and co.  get your fingers out and get some signings made!

Bring on the Derby!

Along with our movement from the League One to Championship sections of the assorted websites, the announcement of the fixtures is another one of those crucial moments that makes a promotion (or indeed, a relegation) crystalise into reality that little bit more for a football fan.  So having a chance to peruse yet another season starting at home, it does make it exciting.  And daunting.

Whilst we know very well that Forest have been capable of excelling in the games that looked a bit tricky whilst spectacularly failing at games which look ‘easy’ on paper – the step change in calibre of opposition is only too clear, and given the lack of signings it does have the potential to make the sphincter twitch a tad, but equally, for the first time in ages I’m relishing the season starting.

Reading, Swansea, Watford, Wolves, Burnley, Preston, Charlton and Plymouth aren’t teams that – had you presented the list to me fifteen years ago – inspire trepidation, but as we are developing and earning our right to move up the leagues they suddenly take on a more daunting aspect.  These are the teams we meet before September is out.  It does rather bring home the challenge Smoulds faces.

Of course, my eyes were primarily drawn to early November and late February; that’s when we can reacquaint ourselves with our old enemies!  We start with a trip to Prideless Park, with a wait ’til 2009 before we can welcome them to our domain.  I’d hoped we would get them quite early, given the mass rebuilding scheme Paul ‘sex pest’ Jewell has commenced, it would be good to play them early to take advantage of an ungelled team.

As it is, we have time to acclimatise to our new level before meeting the Sheep, which would work out well too.  It certainly gives Commons plenty of time to pick up a dubious injury, if nothing else!  The full fixture list is on the Forest site which you can access by clicking here.  It does make the mouth water rather, less than two months to go… I can’t wait, now go out and get some players, Smoulders!

Agoing-going-gone to Zamalek?..

It would appear that Junior Agogo has finally made his move to Zamalek if this website is to be believed; which I can’t really say for sure whether it is or it isn’t.  No word on the official Forest website as yet, but then I wouldn’t necessarily expect them to be completely on the ball.

A reported fee of 1.2million Euros (about £950k give or take) is a pretty decent price for him, in my opinion, and for 350,000 Euros a year (which my crude maths gives you around £5,400 per week), you can’t really blame him – as I wouldn’t pay him that much!  As it is, we’ve made a tidy profit on the fee we paid Bristol Rovers for him, and whilst he’s shown moments of decentness in League One, given his recent form, I’m not shedding too many tears.

So thanks for your efforts, Junior.  Before the African Cup of Nations he was undoubtedly our main threat, but upon returning didn’t look the same player at all.  Of course, all of this good will does rather hinge on our replacing him preferably with a better player – because whilst I rate Earnshaw (assuming he lives up to his potential) and Tyson, we do need backup to them, and frankly Grant Holt and Emile Sinclair ain’t it!

On to Zamalek, not having really known anything about African football before, I hadn’t realised quite what a history they have.  The ‘sporting club’ of which the football team forms a part was founded back in 1911 by a Belgian chap to rival the English-founded El-Ahly, also based in Cairo.  The ‘white knights’ have only gone under the name of Zamalek since 1952, however.  It will certainly prove to be a rather different setup than Forest for the Ghanian!

So, should this transpire to be true, then fare thee well, Junior.  That said, in the picture above, he doesn’t look too thrilled to be in possession of his new Zamalek shirt – given the link now, I might well make the effort to keep an eye on how he does at his new club.

Is there anybody out there?..

It’s all gone so quiet, hasn’t it?  With the European Championships underway, yet still strangely uninteresting aside from Spain and Holland putting in impressive displays, I must admit I’ve tired of the rumour-trawling and had decided to wait for confirmed news to filter through, but there’s not much of that really either.  All in all, quite a dull time indeed, hence the lack of posts since over a week ago.

It was indeed confirmed that Forest will be facing Everton in a preseason friendly, which along with Sunderland gives us two top flight opponents at the City Ground to start the season off.  A welcome rise of prominence, and something to look forward to – although £12 for a ticket seems a bit steep, and the lack of Upper Bridgford availability for the games seems to suggest the club feels the same way – particularly with the Sunderland game being shown on Setanta to boot!

The hottest news for us at the moment appears to be the ongoing ‘will he, won’t he?’ saga of Junior Agogo’s courtship with Zamalek of Egypt.  Reports have ranged from ‘we’ve signed him’ to ‘that’s not really Junior’s agent!’ to ‘They won’t pay him enough.’  To be honest, whilst I quite like Junior, if we can get a good fee for him, then he’s not exactly irreplaceable – and indeed, in signing Gollum from Derby we arguably already have done should he depart.

I’d like very much to see some news on Nathan Tyson and Sammy Clingan being offered new deals – they’ve both been predictably linked with moves elsewhere in the Championship; they would both leave big shoes to fill should they do so.  We continue to be linked with Anderson of Liverpool and Whittingham of Cardiff in the popular press, which makes sense as they would both act as replacements for a certain unspeakable one who is now encamped at the wrong end of the A52.

The only thing the Official site sees fit to comment on in recent days are Agogo’s fortunes for Ghana, peddling tickets for the preseason games, the advantages of subscribing to a premium rate text message service to get the fixtures at the same time as everyone else who will be watching the websites with interest… oh, and the tantalisingly unexciting ‘sneak preview’ nonsense with the new kit, which will basically be a red version of Everton’s new kit (with some writing in a circle around the badge, and two stars above it).

I await news of signings with interest, without panic just yet – but make no mistake we do need to strengthen for the coming campaign; I hope that Smoulderwood has learned from his reticence to do so in the past – although I like the fact he’s talking of not going to players who turned us down at League One level, let’s go for players who want to come here and earn their place in the team.

Commons finally turns traitor..

Much like our signing of Earnshaw, it’s taken a while, but the seemingly inevitable defection to Derby County by Kris Commons was formalised today, as he took his thirty pieces of silver and signed a three year contract with the newly crowned worst Premier League team ever.

He makes up the sixth signing for them, which is quick work from Paul ‘sex pest’ Jewell after his well publicised desire to rebuild his side from scratch after last year’s shameful showing.  It’s interesting his targets seem to be players who’ve plied their trade in League One and below for most of their careers; hopefully Commons can follow in an illustrious line of players who’ve left us for them on not really gone on to greater things.

Now, on to Commons.  I am naturally disappointed that a self-confessed supposed Forest fan could ‘do the dirty’ on us.  Clearly he wanted out, since he didn’t even stick around to listen to what Forest might offer him, and equally Smoulds was quite quick to release him too; methinks there is more to that particular relationship than simply a desire to get paid more.  Although I’m sure that helped.  Residual bitterness about frequent appearances from the bench perhaps contributed to make him want to move on.

Make no bones about it though, on his day Commons is a cracking player; anyone who needs reminding then take a look at the first half of the Forest v Yeovil game on your DVD (if you got one before they sold out!) to remind yourself of what he’s like at his best.  Not only did he snag a great goal, he tackled back, he passed well, and he was the epitome of team player.  He worked hard, he – like the rest of the team – was clearly desperate to register a win for the Reds.

Now try to count how many times you’ve seen a performance like that from him; there lies the consolation.  For all his talents, Kris is a very inconsistent performer.  Whether that be due to managerial motivation or just his natural state, I’m unsure, but he’s played under a number of managers for the Reds, and of course at Stoke, whose fans gave us similar feedback upon us signing him.  On his day he’s a devastating, match-changing talent.  Most of the time he’s a frustrating, ball greedy so and so – or he’s injured, of course.

So I can, hand on heart, say that whilst I would have like to have kept him on, I don’t believe he is worth the kind of wages that are being bandied about that Derby have supposedly offered him.  If he decided to follow the pound signs, then I would have wished him well had he chosen any club other than Derby County.  If he hadn’t hammed up his supposed love of Forest in the past, it would be easier to swallow, but those words just seem so hollow and pathetic now.

Not that I really believe a footballer can ever really be a fan in the true sense; it’s too much of a conflict of interests.  The problem is is when players make such claims, many regular fans will latch onto these comments and assume it means the same as it does to us.  It really doesn’t.  In Commons’ case though, I can’t believe he couldn’t have secured a similar move elsewhere if he really wanted away, in which case I would have wished him well… as it is, clearly I hope he rots!

Even before the fixture list is out I might nip down to Ladbroke’s and see if they will offer me odds on him being unavailable for the fixtures next season against Forest through either injury or a strategic suspension.  What with Earnie moving the other way, it will certainly add much more barely-needed spice to the eagerly anticipated reacquaintance with our dearest of neighbours.