Nottingham Forest & Leeds United came into this season with their fans thinking that the play offs, if not automatic promotion were a big chance this season on the back of their performances last season. Forest, who finished in 6th place last season got into the play offs, but lost their semi final 3-1 on aggregate to the eventual winners Swansea City. However, the Forest board thought that this was another failure, and released Billy Davies of his managerial duties after two and a half years in the job. After lengthy negotiations, the new manager at the City Ground would be Steve McClaren, the former England, Middlesbrough & Twente coach, who had been without a job since being sacked by German side Wolfsburg. However, McClaren couldn’t get the players who he wanted to sign to come to the club due to a lack of funds given by their chairmen Nigel Doughty. Instead of some quality signings, McClaren had to settle for midfield veterans Jonathan Greening & George Boateng, former midfield hero Andy Reid also came in on a free transfer & strikers Ishmael Miller & Matt Derbyshire also signed. However, only Greening & Miller were signed for a fee, which totalled £1.8 million, a budget that is miniscule for a club of Forest’s stature. They did manage to keep out of Lee Camp, Luke Chambers, Lewis McGugan & Dexter Blackstock, so fans would have hoped that despite the lack of signings, they would still have a successful season. Forest haven’t started strongly and their only win in 5 Championship matches was against bottom of the table Doncaster. If they don’t move up from 18th position in the league, McClaren will have to hold more talks with the club about his future and faces his reputation being almost destroyed with another unsuccessful spell as a manager.
Nottingham Forest’s rivals Leeds United have also been struggling and like Forest, much of it is down to the lack of money. Or you could in fact say the lack of money reinvested. Even though the club made a profit in the past year and raked in a supposed £8.5 million pounds in transfer fees from deals involving goalkeeper Kasper Schmichael & star player Max Gradel to Leicester City & St Etienne respectively, only £325,000 has been put back into the club for the transfer of keeper Andy Lonergan from Preston North End. Their chairman Ken Bates has been a controversial figure as owner of Chelsea and he is continuing this trend at Leeds United. His lack of money being put into the club has seen many protests against the tax exile as a result. The off the pitch problems have resulted in the club struggling on the pitch, being one place below Nottingham Forest in 19th place, with their only win coming against the notoriously slow starters Hull City. Mikael Forsell has recently joined the club to bolster their attacking options but they needed to improve by signing players on the wing and continuing to improve their struggling defence. Unlike Steve McClaren, many feel sympathy for Leeds boss Simon Grayson, who has excelled at the club he used to play for by helping them get promotion to the second tier, and at one point, it seemed that he would be sacked to make way for Alan Curbishley.
While rivals Nottingham Forest & Leeds United have struggled to set the league alight as expected, this is down to purely one reason that is money. Had either club been given the money to build on last season’s successes, they would probably not be languishing in such a low position. It would be very unlikely to say that either club would get relegated back to the third tier of English football again but unless momentum is picked up and good players are brought in, it could be a long season ahead for the rivals