Nottingham Forest are preparing for their first season back in the Premier League for 23 years and optimism is high they can impress in the top flight.
Original article published 29 August 2022
The Tricky Trees may be rated as 1500/1 shots to win the Premier League title with bet365, but that has not stopped customers taking on that huge price, with the suggestion being they could emulate what East Midlands rivals Leicester achieved in 2016.
Leicester shocked the footballing world by winning the title just 12 months on from narrowly avoiding relegation, and while a similar success for Forest seems unlikely, stranger things have certainly happened.
bet365's Steve Freeth said: "Leicester's underdog story may never be topped, but there are a lot of people, including a large chunk from the East Midlands area, that think Forest can also defy the huge odds this season.
"We've taken over 1000 bets on such an outcome, as well as hundreds of wagers on the City Ground outfit challenging for the Top 4, Top 6 and Top Half in their first season back in the Premier League since 1999.
"Forest have gained promotion from the second tier and won the league the following season of course, and Cooper would be the new Cloughie if he pulled this off!"
Premier League 2022/23
5th August 2022 - 28th May 2023
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Sky Sports and BT Sport
Man City 4/7, Liverpool 2/1, Tottenham 14/1, Chelsea 16/1, Man Utd 28/1
If any team could win the title off the back of being promoted, then it could well be Forest, who were the last club to do just that in England under the guidance of legendary manager Brian Clough in 1978.
After finishing third in the old second division during the 1976/77 season, Forest took the top-flight by storm the following year, winning their first and so far only league championship by seven points after losing just three of their 42 games.
They then went on to win back-to-back European Cups in 1979 and 1980 to underline the most successful period in the club's history.
A repeat performance seems unlikely this season given the quality at the top of the Premier League, with champions Manchester City and last season's runners-up Liverpool arguably the two strongest teams ever seen in English football.
However, Forest also jointly hold the record for the highest finish of a newly promoted team in the Premier League era, as they came third during the 1994/95 season, equalling what Newcastle had achieved the previous campaign.
They actually start their season against the Magpies on 6th August, with them 15/4 to win at St James' Park, and then face West Ham, Everton, Tottenham and Manchester City before the end of August.
Winning the title next season is perhaps a pipe dream for Forest and their supporters, but there is no reason to suggest the Tricky Trees can't defy the odds and enjoy a successful campaign.
Wolves, Sheffield United and Leeds have all clinched top-half finishes after securing promotion back to the top flight the previous season, while Brentford ended their debut Premier League campaign in a respectable 13th place.
Forest are 8/1 to secure a top-half finish during 2022/23, while they are 100/1 to equal their heroics of the 1994/95 season by placing in the top four, which would also be enough to secure their return to European club football's top table for the first time since 1981.
Leicester's title-winning success of 2016 was made all the more remarkable as then Foxes manager Claudio Ranieri made very few changes to his squad from the previous season (the exception being a certain N'Golo Kante).
Forest head coach Cooper is unlikely to have such a luxury, as it already appears there will be plenty of changes to the team that won last month's playoff final at Wembley.
Five of those that featured against Huddersfield, Djed Spence, James Garner, Philip Zinckernagel, Keinan Davis and Max Lowe, were only on the banks of the Trent via loan agreements and it is unclear how many of them, if any, will return for next season.
Spence certainly looks to have played his last game for Forest, as a move to Tottenham appears to be on the cards for the England under-21 international, while Manchester United are expected to run the rule over midfielder Garner during pre-season.
Throw into the mix that goalkeeper Brice Samba appears to be seeking a move away from the club and Forest are facing a busy summer in the transfer market.
Replacing the players that have left will undoubtedly be essential to Forest's hopes of enjoying a productive first season back in the Premier League.
Realistically survival in 2022/23 would be a success for the Tricky Trees and they are priced at 10/11 to avoid the drop, but ominously they are the 4/5 second favourites to be relegated.