Nottingham Forest find themselves at a Championship crossroad they have become all too familiar with.

Down one road lies a top-six finish, or at least a serious challenge for such a standing.

The other leads to more bottom-half mediocrity.

The Reds have become well acquainted with the latter of those two tracks in recent years.

Each passing summer delivers a renewed sense of optimism and belief that this is our year.

Competitive action is then taken in and said confidence is slowly eroded.

The 2018-19 campaign was supposed to be different.

This really was supposed to be our year.

Elaborate spending highlighted the ambition of those behind the scenes and sparked more talk of a Premier League return.

We had been in a similar position before, but this was different… wasn’t it?

Change

(Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

Well, in a word, no.

The obligatory managerial change has been made to throw things back up into the air.

Forest have stalled when they should be accelerating.

Martin O’Neill has already spoken of the “learning curve” he faces, with the ‘L’ plates seemingly back on at the City Ground.

We are fast approaching late-January and basically back where we started.

Only now we don’t have 46 games in which to shape our destiny, we have 18.

So what happens from here?

The promotion-chasing pack are only seven points up the road.

That is not an insurmountable gap to close, but momentum is clearly needed.

Destination

If it isn’t found, then the Reds will remain stuck in reverse.

And if they can’t find a way of getting out of that gear, then another season of relative nothingness beckons.

Two roads with two very different end points.

Forest can still determine their final destination, with control very much in their hands.

O’Neill, though, needs to learn his lessons quickly.

The clock is ticking and there is no time in which to be re-sitting exams.

The Reds have experienced similar before, with this mid-season fork in the road proving particularly difficult to navigate.

Things can be different this time.

Forest may have become caught up in traffic, but the overtaking lane is clear if they display the nerve to pull out.

Mirror, signal, manoeuvre.

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