A video clip recently resurfaced on social media of an interview Evangelos Marinakis did soon after taking over Nottingham Forest.
Back then, in 2017, Reds fans had endured a particularly rough few years under the stewardship of previous owner Fawaz Al Hasawi. Returning to the top-flight still seemed a long way away.
Even at that time, however – having only just bought the club – Marinakis made clear his ambition. “We have a long-term plan, and within this long-term plan, of course, we want to bring Nottingham where it belongs,” he said. “And of course, Nottingham belongs in the Premier League. And Nottingham belongs to the elite of the Premier League.”
It is that last sentence which is particularly relevant as Forest prepare to end their 23-year exile from the top tier of English football. Marinakis would no doubt say the same now – and, indeed, a similar statement was made on the Council House balcony overlooking Market Square during the promotion celebration event the day after Wembley.
Since then, words have been backed up by actions. Statement signings have been the order of the day.
Forest have made clear they do not just want to survive in the Premier League, they want to thrive. They want to establish themselves at that level, and push on.
The level of ambition was shown with the very first addition of the summer. A club record fee was shelled out to bring in striker Taiwo Awoniyi from Union Berlin.
That was just the start. More than £70million has already been spent on putting a squad together. The Reds had little choice over a rebuild, of course, but the business done illustrates their intent. Not least with the capture of Jesse Lingard.
If the wider football world hadn’t already been taking notice of what was happening Trentside, the former Manchester United man putting pen to paper certainly grabbed people’s attention. It has created quite a stir – and it seems everyone has an opinion on it. But undeniably, it sent out a big signal of Forest’s ambition.
And it’s not just in transfers where that can be seen, either. The plans to redevelop the City Ground tie into the club’s vision.
Even before approval was given, Marinakis had shown his commitment to the project by spending more than £2m around the plans. It has been a long, and complicated, road to get the green light, but promotion only underlined the need for a makeover and to increase capacity.
Nottingham Forest FC Season 2022-23 Preview
It’s taken twenty-three long, painful years for Nottingham Forest to return to where they belong in the Premier League.
Now, one of the true giants of English football, are back in the big time – but how will they get on?
The momentum was with Forest last season. Trying to carry that on is the challenge; to pick up from where they left off on that glorious sunny day at Wembley when everything changed.
Our special supplement brings you an in-depth look at the return to the top-flight, packed with news, features and opinions.
It’s the ultimate guide for Reds fans as the club prepares to rub shoulders with the likes of Man City and Liverpool once more.
The next nine-and-a-half months will be full of excitement, anticipation, nerves, highs, lows – although hopefully not too many of the latter – and, with any luck, a fair few goals. Several showings of the trademark Cooper fist-pumps wouldn’t go amiss, either.
Join us for our bumper Forest pre-season pullout and look ahead to the new campaign.
In Steve Cooper, too, the Reds have a manager who always strives for the best. He demonstrated as much last season with his focus on creating a winning mentality – going into every game, regardless of the competition, wanting to win and naming his strongest possible team.
Up until the top-two were out of reach, Cooper was pushing for the automatic spots. An FA Cup semi-final was almost a reality. His philosophy is to aim as high as possible.
It’s difficult to fault the club’s level of ambition as they get ready to make the step up. On a scale of 0-100, it’s easily at the top end of that. I would say 85, just to give some room for manoeuvre, but you could argue for higher.
Establishing themselves among “the elite” will not be easy, but the Reds are undoubtedly giving it a go. We want to hear what you think about the club’s level of ambition. Have your say in our survey.
How will Forest fare in the Premier League? Have your say in the comments below