Supporters of both Nottingham Forest and Derby County endured difficult seasons for different reasons last time out. Forest survived relegation by two goals with a 3-0 victory on the final day against Ipswich Town under the management of Mark Warburton while Derby languished in mid-table after several managerial changes that ended with Gary Rowett at the helm. However, both clubs are now in a much better place for this season.
They were both very busy in this summer’s transfer window, but which out of the two has come out with a stronger squad?
Big money sales for both sides
It has become increasingly difficult for Championship sides to keep hold of their star assets, especially when Premier League teams register their interest. The financial power of teams in the top flight means that they can easily lure players away from the second tier. This was the case at Derby this summer as both Will Hughes and Tom Ince left for Watford and Huddersfield Town respectively. Although the Rams received hefty fees for both that will help considerably with Financial Fair Play requirements, they were both an integral part of the squad and will be greatly missed.
The most notable departure from Forest this summer was that of star striker Britt Assombalonga to Championship rivals Middlesbrough for a fee of around £15 million. The main disappointment in regards to this deal for Forest supporters was that it was to a rival Championship club. However, at the time, Boro’s offer of £15 million was the highest and was a tough offer to turn down for a player with Assombalonga’s injury record. The fact that the striker clearly wanted to move away from The City Ground also has to be taken into account.
A mix of experience and youth added to squad by Rowett
At the beginning of the transfer window, it appeared that Rowett was focusing heavily on adding experience to his Derby team in the form of Tom Huddlestone and Curtis Davies. The former Hull City duo could play a big part this season in a Derby squad that has previously shown a mental weakness in numerous playoff defeats. They both have a wealth of experience having played on a number of occasions in the top flight and will be looking to pass this experience on to the club’s younger players.
As well as adding experience, it is also important to add some youthful talent to the squad. Both Andre Wisdom and Tom Lawrence arrived at the club from Premier League sides Liverpool and Leicester City respectively, and both have a significant amount of potential. They both have experience of playing in the Championship as Wisdom previously featured at Derby under the management of Steve McClaren whilst Lawrence impressed on loan at Ipswich Town last season.
Warburton finds great value signings in the transfer window
Forest supporters have been left delighted with their club’s summer business which has been largely helped by the club’s Director of Football Frank McParland who works very closely with Warburton in regards to recruitment. Several players have arrived at The City Ground this summer including Jason Cummings, Barrie McKay, Tendayi Darikwa, Daryl Murphy, Andreas Bouchalakis, Liam Bridcutt, Adam Federici, Kieran Dowell among others. All of these are quality additions who are capable of playing in Forest’s starting line-up. Philippe Montanier’s poor recruitment was one of the key reasons behind Forest’s poor performance last season and virtually none of his signings remain at the club.
Not only have all of Warburton’s signings this summer proven to be quality additions in the early stages of the campaign, but they also arrived for reasonable fees. An example is McKay who arrived from Rangers for a fee of around £500,000. This already looks to be an exceptional deal with the winger demonstrating that he is capable of producing some superb performances at this level.
Verdict: Nottingham Forest
Both sides have had a reasonable transfer window but Forest look to have come out with a better squad than they had at the start whereas Derby have arguably been slightly weakened. Forest’s only considerable loss was that of Assombalonga, but the additions of Cummings, McKay, Murphy, Dowell and so on should be enough to make up for the goals lost by the striker’s departure. In comparison, Derby lost both Hughes and Ince who were two huge players for the Rams in recent years. They have already been missed in the early stages of the campaign and the addition of Sam Winnall on loan from Sheffield Wednesday late on Deadline Day is unlikely to do much to change that.