As the dust settles on Nottingham Forest’s fifth consecutive season in the npower Championship, the players and supporters will look back on what has proved to be a crucial season in the history of the club.
Although at times it was far from a walk in the park, the 2012-13 season not only saw the return of Reds favourite Billy Davies to the City Ground dugout, but also the dawn of a new era in the form of chairman and owner Fawaz Al Hasawi and his family.
An emotional season both on and off the pitch began back on the 10th July 2012 when the Kuwaiti-based Al Hasawi family completed a deal to purchase the club after the sad and unexpected passing of Nigel Doughty in February last year.
Fawaz expressed a lifelong passion for the Reds and admitted following the triumphs of the club under Brian Clough. The Al Hasawi group soon got to work and appointed three managers during the course of the season as they searched for the perfect match.
Initially Sean O’Driscoll was installed to replace Steve Cotterill as manager back in July last year, but a decision to make a late push for promotion in January led to the appointment of Alex McLeish and later the return of Billy in February on a three-and-half-year deal following a 20-month absence.
In a fifteen-match period the Scot engineered a run of 10 games undefeated, notching up vital away victories at Charlton, Sheffield Wednesday and Hull City to land the Manager of the Month accolade for March. The 48-year-old expressed his desire to complete “unfinished business” in returning Forest to the Premier League.
Yet, it was not to be as the Reds lost out to East Midlands rivals Leicester City in a pulsating game at the City Ground on the final day. Despite a close encounter the Foxes sealed a 3-2 victory in dramatic style with a late goal from French midfielder Anthony Knockaert.
The Reds finished in eighth position in the Championship table and missed out on a play-off spot by just a point - ending with a respectable tally of 67 points and six points clear of fierce rivals Derby County.