Nottingham Forest pre-season and transfer business assessed ahead of Newcastle opener

Newcastle United will kick start their Premier League campaign against the new boys on the block. Steve Cooper’s side were one of the most entertaining teams in the country, dumping out the likes of Arsenal in the FA Cup before winning a nail biting play-off final with Huddersfield Town.

Nobody is quite sure what to expect from The Reds this season, some are predicting a season of struggle, while others believe they’ll fare the best out of the recently promoted sides. Cooper took over Forest in the Championship relegation places and has transformed them into a potent outfit.

One thing is for certain, the owners at the City Ground have put their full weight behind their manager with 12 new faces coming through the door. The arrival of Jesse Lingard at the City Ground came somewhat out of the blue, having been linked with moves to St. James’ Park and a return to West Ham United following his Old Trafford exit.

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There’s been plenty of question marks around the move, but Lingard is a threat and his spell at the Hammers was a stark reminder that he can still play in a side competing for Europe. Dean Henderson is another proven Premier League player who made the move to the City Ground this summer.

Joining on loan from Manchester United – the shot stopper has recently hit out at his parent club for failed promises after being promised the number one spot last season. Henderson was another name to have been linked with a move to St. James’ Park, while new boy up front for Forest – Taiwo Awoniyi – was also once linked with the Magpies after a solid season in the Bundesliga with Union Berlin.

On paper, Cooper’s side have made some astute signings. Harry Toffolo and Lewis O’Brien were among the standout players in the Championship last season and both are fully deserving of their shot in the top tier.

Neco Williams has made the switch from Anfield in search of permanent game time, and alongside Omar Richards who has recently joined from Bayern Munich, is a signing for the future. Forest have splashed the cash this summer, but it’s now up to Cooper to keep the Tricky Trees in the hardest division in the world.

One man who could be key to all that, is Brennan Johnson. The Welsh international was on the radar of a number of Premier League clubs’ radar – Newcastle reportedly being one – after lighting up the Championship in his first full season with his boyhood club.

Forest however, had somewhat of an indifferent pre-season. They were beaten 3-1 by Championship side Coventry and 1-0 by Bundesliga side Union Berlin. There were wins over Union Berlin and Burton Albion, but also draws against Notts County, Barnsley and La Liga side Valencia.

It’s always difficult to read too much into pre-season results, but Forest are a potential banana skin for the Magpies. You just need to look at Brentford’s 2-0 win over Arsenal on the opening day of the season to see how newly promoted sides can spring a surprise.

Newcastle, meanwhile, will be hoping to pick up where they left off last season and start the campaign on the best possible footing. Avoiding a repeat of the disastrous few months last season is surely a given.

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