Our five-point survival guide for Nottingham Forest

·8-min read
 A dejected Brennan Johnson of Nottingham Forest during the Premier League match between Newcastle United and Nottingham Forest at St. James Park - GETTY IMAGES
A dejected Brennan Johnson of Nottingham Forest during the Premier League match between Newcastle United and Nottingham Forest at St. James Park - GETTY IMAGES

Lee Charnley, the former Newcastle United chief executive, will join Nottingham Forest on a consultancy basis to help with the tricky transition to the top-flight, after 23 years away from the Premier League.

Charnley, 44, has been recruited at the request of the current chief executive Dane Murphy as the club adapts to the rapid pace of change since their play-off final victory at Wembley on May 29. The club has had to sign a new squad of first team players in the interim after the departure of some key loanees, as well as former captain Lewis Grabban, from last season and the scale of change has been huge around Steve Cooper’s squad.

Forest lost to Newcastle at St James’ Park on Saturday in their first game back at the Premier League and the expectation is that there will be more new signings in addition to the 12 first team players who have already arrived. The brief for Charnley, however, will be away from the football trading side of the operation – instead he will help with the considerable regulations that now apply to the stadium including ticketing and other matchday requirements.

Lee Charnley and Mike Ashley - GETTY IMAGES
Lee Charnley and Mike Ashley - GETTY IMAGES

Charnley, who was Mike Ashley’s key executive at Newcastle for seven years, will also work closely with Forest’s ownership group, including Evangelos Marinakis, and with Murphy himself. Charnley left Newcastle in November after 22 years at the club spent in different roles. He had been managing director since April 2014 and was responsible for overseeing Ashley’s vision for the club which was not popular with the supporters. He stayed for a period after the takeover by the Saudi Arabia-led consortium to help with the transition to the new owners.

The club will announce his arrival in the next few days as they prepare to add some more names in this transfer window. Forest play West Ham on Sunday in the first Premier League game at the City Ground since May 1999.

Forest have agreed a fee of around £9 million with Real Betis for Alex Moreno, who can play as a left-back and as a left-winger. His medical is scheduled for the next few days and he would be the 13th new signing at the City Ground this window, with others expected.

While the appointment of Charnley will, in theory, help Forest, Telegraph Sport believes there are five other key areas that can help Cooper’s side.

Keep things in perspective

Liverpool and Manchester City are the only Premier League sides to emerge victorious from Newcastle's increasingly fortress-like home (in addition to Cambridge in the FA Cup) during Eddie Howe's nine-month reign so this was always going to be a tough opening-day assignment, one in stark contrast to last season when the Toon Army had to wait until December to see their side win at home. There have been a couple of recent cup victories, but Forest are without a league win in this part of the world for 34 years and have yet to beat the Geordies in the Premier League in nine attempts.

Beat your relegation rivals

West Ham are hardly relegation rivals, but the more hostile an atmosphere the City Ground can provide for their visit on Sunday, the better.

The correlation between home form and survival remains key as Forest continue to find their feet a little over two months since earning promotion. Winning those nerve-jangling six-pointers against the other basement dwellers will go a long way towards securing safety.

"We've got players coming in left, right and centre and it's about getting to know each other better," Neco Williams, one of six debutants from 13 summer arrivals at a combined outlay in excess of £100m, reflected. The Wales defender added: "When it comes together, the results will start improving."

Break the bank for Morgan Gibbs-White

Will it be fourth-time lucky in the efforts to land the talented attacking midfielder, who worked closely with Cooper during their time together in the England youth set-up?

Forest are edging closer to meeting Wolves' £40m valuation of the 22-year-old, who excelled on loan at Sheffield United last season. Saturday's defeat suggested Cooper could do with at least one more attacking option after a display where Sam Surridge missed at least two decent chances. Smashing the club's transfer record to take their summer spending to the verge of £150m by landing Gibbs-White would be some statement of intent.

Beef up Brennan Johnson

At one point during the second-half of a game where the visitors failed to register a shot on target, Johnson attempted to take the ball round Dan Burn with the kind of explosive sprint which regularly did for Championship defenders last season. This time, however, Burn's top-flight knowhow and general bulk — imagine trying to run around the stern of a black and white oil tanker — simply ushered the Forest forward down a cul-de-sac to instantly extinguish the danger.

Perhaps it is time for Johnson to beef up a little for future battles with gnarled old Premier League centre-halves, or to simply work on the angle of his runs to exploit the advantage his pace gives him against markers. Having been brushed off with alarming ease by the Tyneside tower, it is an issue the Wales international needs to address because he has the talent to succeed at this level.

Look after the ball more

To his credit Cooper offered no excuses following defeat to a side who were simply better on the day. The head coach was rightly critical of his team's inability to retain the ball, an observation borne out by their having a little over a third of possession.

Lewis O'Brien and Harry Toffolo, the former Huddersfield pair signed last month from Forest's vanquished play-off final opponents, struggled at times to deal with the pace of the game. Both, however, have the quality to adapt quickly to this level and to start displaying the array and quality of their passing to play a part in Cooper's quest to ensure his side keeps the ball more, rather than be chasing it for most of the afternoon.

World’s richest club prove do not have to break bank to mount challenge

By Jason Mellor

It took two special finishes to consign them to defeat and on albeit brief evidence they look capable of competing at this level, but that will be of scant consolation as Nottingham Forest were taught a harsh early lesson on their first day back at the Premier League's school of hard knocks.

They kept Newcastle at bay for almost an hour, and should have been level immediately after Fabian Schar's stunning opener so there were plenty of positives to take back down the A1 in the absence of any tangible points, the only one of the three promoted sides to emerge empty handed on opening day.

Fabian Schär reels away after putting Newcastle United ahead against newly-promoted Nottingham Forest - World’s richest club Newcastle prove clubs do not have to break bank to mount title challenge - GETTY IMAGES
Fabian Schär reels away after putting Newcastle United ahead against newly-promoted Nottingham Forest - World’s richest club Newcastle prove clubs do not have to break bank to mount title challenge - GETTY IMAGES

Forest will not be alone in returning empty-handed this season from the increasingly fortress-like St James' Park, as Eddie Howe's side maintained the impressive momentum with which they ended the last campaign to earn a fully deserved victory,

It took them until December last season to register a first home league win but despite fielding just the single summer signing in their starting line-up in England goalkeeper Nick Pope, the world's richest club showed you perhaps do not have to break the bank, or FFP rules, in order to mount a sustained challenge at the sharp end of the league.

Forest have been far from shy in terms of splashing the cash since their play-off final victory over Huddersfield in May, and of their six debutants, former Manchester United keeper Dean Henderson, and defenders Moussa Niakhate and Neco Williams all stood out in a predictably testing rearguard action.

Four Newcastle corners in the opening 10 minutes appeared to be the prelude to a torrid afternoon for the visitors, who to their credit withstood the predictable early onslaught to carve out a couple of half-chances for Sam Surridge, ones which the forward would have probably taken against Championship defences.

Schar had to be alert to block a Jesse Lingard shot as Forest grew into a contest the hosts would have been in control of by the interval had they kept their composure in front of goal.

Joelinton forced Henderson to beat out a long-range effort before the brilliantly-bonkers Brazilian waltzed past three challenges only to scuff a shot horribly wide in a perfect encapsulation of the South American's Jekyll and Hyde form in black and white.

Callum Wilson headed a Joe Willock cross tamely at Henderson and Allan Saint-Maximin failed to apply a decent contact to an inviting Miguel Almiron centre as an entertaining encounter surprisingly failed to produce a goal in the opening 45 minutes.

The deadlock was finally broken with a little over 30 minutes remaining as  Schar hammered home from 20 yards via a post after Forest failed to deal with one of many Saint Maximin centres into the danger area.

Surridge should have done better when directing a more than presentable headed chance wide soon after, and the hosts were out of sight 12 minutes from time when Wilson applied a deft outside of the right foot finish to a low Joelinton cross into the six-yard box.

Wilson put a late chance into the side netting but a third would have been harsh on Forest, who will console themselves that they won't come up against this quality of opposition every week. Just every other week.