Guest Blog by Adam Stapleford (@asfooty1984):
May 28th 1980 at the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium in Madrid, and John Robertson's goal has just won Nottingham Forest their second consecutive European Cup. The 1-0 win over German side Hamburg is Forest's 7th major trophy in just three years. Champions of England, League Cup winners twice, Super Cup winners, Charity Shield winners, and two European Cups. All from a team that was only promoted to England's top flight in 1977. The unbelievable achievements management Brian Clough and Peter Taylor reached will never be forgotten.
Fast-forward to 1992 and Forest are relegated to the second tier of English football, in Brian Clough's last season in management before retirement. The man to step in and replace Clough was one of his own, Frank Clark. Clough had signed Clark back in 1977 from Newcastle United, and the left back played in the first European Cup victory in 1979. Forest immediately bounced back, gaining promotion in Clark's first season. A third place finish in the Premier League the following campaign was a great achievement. The year after that, Forest slipped to the 9th spot, but did enjoy two successful cup runs, reaching the Quarter Finals of both the FA Cup and UEFA Cup, losing to Aston Villa and Bayern Munich respectively. The following season was a struggle. Clark departed in December 1996, leaving club legend Stuart Pearce to take over. Unfortunately Pearce couldn't stop the slide, and once again Forest found themselves in the second tier. Dave Bassett was then handed the reigns, and again Forest bounced back straight away, gaining promotion as champions. But this time, the Reds only managed a year in the top flight. Bassett departed in January 1999, Ron Atkinson was brought in, but his task to keep Forest up failed, and again the Reds found themselves relegated.
July 1st 1999. David Platt is appointed Nottingham Forest manager. His task: Promotion. Platt was given money to burn, Forest failed, and after only two years in charge, he left to take charge of the England Under 21's. Academy manager Paul Hart was then promoted into the hot seat, and in his second season in charge had guided Forest to a 6th place finish, and a play-off place, with only three games away from the Premiership again. But the Reds couldn't get passed Sheffield United over two legs in the semi-finals, so another season in Division One awaited. Several key players left during the summer, and after injuries to other major players, Forest was struggling. February of 2004 saw Hart replaced by Joe Kinnear. Forest survived, and then it was Kinnear's turn to get Forest back to the Premier League. Kinnear lasted 11 months, and in January 2005 Gary Megson took over, and once again Forest struggled at the wrong end. This time they couldn't survive, and that year Forest had been relegated to Division Two, the third tier of English Football.
Forest expected an immediate return, but after some poor performances, and heavy defeats, including a 3-0 defeat at the hands of Chester City in the FA Cup, Megson departed. In the summer of 2006, Colin Calderwood was appointed the new manager. In his first season, Forest reached the play-offs, losing to Yeovil Town over two legs, but the following year the Reds gained promotion on the final day of the season. They found the Championship however a struggle, and Calderwood departed in December 2008. Billy Davies, given the job a month later, managed to keep Forest above water, and avoid relegation. That summer Davies restructured his squad and guided Forest to a third place finish, playing some brilliant football along the way, including thumping wins over Leicester City 5-1, QPR 5-0, and a 3-1 away to West Brom being the highlights. But Forest again failed, losing to Blackpool in the play-offs. The following campaign saw Forest again the end of season lottery after a 6th place finish, this time losing out to Swansea City, and in June 2011 Davies lost his job.
Former England manager Steve McClaren was the brought in, but only lasted 4 months, being replaced by Steve Cotterill, who would only be given time to see the season out. In the summer of 2012 the Al-Hasawi family took control of Nottingham Forest, replacing Cotterill with Sean O'Driscoll. The new owners had big plans, and pumped several millions into the club. A virtually new team arrived, and Forest set out to regain their Premier League dream. However after a 4-2 win over Leeds United on Boxing Day in 2012, O'Driscoll was surprisingly sacked, and replaced 24 hours later by Alex McLeish, but the Scot didn't last long either, and after just 7 games left the City Ground. His replacement: an old face, Billy Davies. Forest just missed out on the play-offs that season, but in the summer of 2013, Davies once again began to build a promotion chasing squad. The season started well with Forest winning their first three games, and topping the table. But it didn't last, and in March 2014, following a 5-0 defeat to local rivals Derby County, Davies departed. Forest played out the remainder of the season and the summer of 2014 saw the return of Stuart Pearce as manager which lifted spirits but the Reds legend couldn't find the magic either, and less than a year later, it was his turn to leave the hot seat.
February 1st 2015. Dougie Freedman is appointed Forest manager, finishing the season in 14th place. Forest then started the 2015-2016 season under a transfer embargo, with Freedman working with a one out one in process, and a maximum £10,000 per week wage structure. This season looks like it will fade out, with Forest too far away to challenge for a play-off spot, whilst having given themselves enough breathing space from relegation. The summer will see Forest's embargo lifted, and will give Freedman more freedom to move in the transfer market. Hopefully with long term injured players returning, and new players coming in, the 2016-2017 season may see Forest challenging again, but the glory years that Clough and Taylor brought to this club seems a very long time ago now, and pretty certainly, will never be repeated.