I must confess that the concept of parting with hard earned cash to watch a pre-season friendly gives me about as much enthusiasm as receiving a pair of socks on Christmas morning.
Nonetheless the chance to see Nottingham Forest just down the road from where I live at Mansfield Town was a game that I opted to take in, as a chance to see just what progress the club can make next season in Mark Warburton’s first full campaign.
Away from the football pitch the club is making massive strides. If some structure in the boardroom wasn’t enough, the club will this season be providing season cards rather than the dated and somewhat old-fashioned book of tickets that have been issued in years of old. I know what you’re thinking, simple things please equally simple minds!
If Saturday is anything to go by, however, the Reds are already looking like a side that can make great strides this season on the pitch too.
Okay so beating League Two opposition by four goals in comprehensive fashion is hardly going to tempt too many people into racing down the bookies and popping a fiver on Forest to challenge this season, but after several years of failure there is finally a sense that the club can start embarking upon an upward curve.
The manner of the performance on Saturday was the most pleasing aspect for me. Forest played with great confidence and the sharpness of the team’s passing was extremely easy on the eye. Okay, some mistakes were made but this is still pre-season after all.
When Warburton opted to make nine changes on the hour at the One Call Stadium, I did fear that it would upset the applecart and allow the Stags a chance to get a foothold in the contest.
Forest these days look to be mentally stronger and the club’s ‘second string’ continued in the same expressive manner as their team-mates had during the first 60 minutes.
Summer recruit Barrie McKay looks a lively little player and his array of passing looks like it could be an extremely strong attribute for the Reds next season. He played his part in Forest’s third goal, a neat team goal tucked home in the end by Apostolos Vellios who was excellent when he entered the fray.
Warburton’s tenure as manager of the football club is really only just beginning and Saturday proved to me that he is already putting his own authority onto the squad of players, which can only bode well for the 2017/18 campaign.
With striker Daryl Murphy arriving from Newcastle United late last week I believe that the club are now just a couple of midfielders and a full-back away from completing their squad.
The next couple of weeks look set to be exciting times for those of a Forest persuasion, with more new signings set to arrive at the City Ground and I for one am intrigued to see who else checks-in.
My enthusiasm for friendlies hasn’t really changed based on one good performance against the Stags but I must say that my excitement for the forthcoming Championship campaign has now firmly been ignited.