‘Progress’ has been something of a buzzword for Nottingham Forest of late, but how much has been made in 2018?
It remains to be seen whether those calls will be heeded, or fall on deaf ears.
Evangelos Marinakis will ultimately make that decision, as the man with his finger on the trigger.
He decided change was required midway through the 2017/18 campaign, with Karanka arriving at the City Ground as a result of somebody else losing their job.
The Spaniard has been around long enough to know that short-termism has become an all too familiar theme in modern football, with stability in any given post determined by results.
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He has not collected as many as he or anybody connected with the club would have liked of late, but Forest remain a work in progress rather than a sinking ship.
Immediate success may be demanded from the boardroom to the bootroom, but small steps can be as productive as giant leaps when looking at the bigger picture.
With that in mind, and as we prepare to enter 2019, how much progress has been made by the Reds over the last 12 months?
Mark Warburton was handed his P45 on New Year’s Eve 2017, with Forest having suffered a 14th defeat of the season a day earlier against Sunderland. He may have done a fine job at Brentford and a decent one at Rangers, but he never truly convinced with the Reds.
Karanka was handed the reins on January 8 and charged with the task of steadying the ship before getting it heading in the right direction. He knows what is required to win promotion out of the Championship when given time to complete the job.
Of the matchday squad that fell to a 1-0 defeat against Sunderland, only Ben Osborn, Matty Cash and Daryl Murphy are still involved on a regular basis. The starting XI included Jordan Smith, Michael Mancienne, Andreas Bouchalakis, Ben Brereton and Barrie McKay, while Jason Cummings, Mustapha Carayol and Armand Traore stepped off the bench.
Karanka freshened things up during the winter window upon taking the reins, and spent big over the summer, and there is no doubt that the current squad is considerably stronger than that of 12 months ago – with the likes of Joe Lolley, Lewis Grabban, Jack Colback and Joao Carvalho added to the ranks.
After 25 games of the 2017/18 campaign, Forest sat 14th in the table with 31 points to their name – 10 adrift of the play-offs and nine clear of the drop zone. They had won 10 games and drawn only one, but suffered 14 defeats and been breached 42 times.
In the present, the Reds are perched in 10th spot with 35 points – only six behind the promotion-chasing pack and 14 clear of the bottom three. They have only emerged successful in eight games, being held in 12, but have suffered just five reversals and conceded only 27 goals.
In their final home outing of 2017, Forest pulled 26,830 punters through the gates – which was up on an average of 24,680.
Against QPR this term, the City Ground attracted 28,177 spectators (average 27,721) – to go with record season ticket sales – and a full house will take in a sold out clash with Leeds on New Year’s Day.
Uncertainty reigned as 2017 came to a close, on and off the field. A managerial change had been coming and the Reds were casting more nervous glances over their shoulder than they were ambitious peaks towards the top six.
Twelve months on and while there are more rumours regarding the coaching staff, the outlook is a lot more positive as fans dare to dream again of a return to the Premier League Promised Land – if not this term, then at some point in the near future.
Is progress being made? It certainly appears so.
Is it happening as quickly as some would like? Probably not, but then there is no magic formula.
If there were, do you not think that Forest and Karanka would have played that card by now?
The City Ground garden is rosier than it was during the Al Hasawi era and the foundations are there to kick on from this point.
If we were to find ourselves in a similar position in 12 months time then questions could be asked, but for now let’s try and enjoy a period of rare stability and place our trust in the current regime.