Nottingham Forest will lift the curtain on their 2020/21 campaign this weekend when they face Barnsley in the first round of the Carabao Cup at Oakwell.

It provides the Reds with an instant return to the stadium where they suffered a disappointing 1-0 loss back in July, to leave their play-off hopes on a knife-edge.

Nottingham Forest v Stoke City - Sky Bet Championship

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Of course, for supporters of a Forest persuasion, we all know what happened and the Reds must gear up for another season in the Championship.

Barnsley stayed up in dramatic style last season and they will hope for a more comfortable campaign this time around.


Ahead of Saturday’s game, and as part of a new feature for 2020/21, Nottingham Forest News caught up with Barnsley fan Chris Rhodes who gave us the lowdown on Saturday’s opponents…

Nottingham Forest News (NFN)You stayed up in pretty dramatic fashion last season, do you anticipate a smoother ride in the Championship this time around?

Chris Rhodes (CR): I sincerely hope so! It was a euphoric end to the season but the weeks leading up to it were pure agony. I think 99% of our supporters were resigned to League-1 right up until that last-minute winner against you guys. Even then, most of us thought our chances were still pretty slim. A season floating safely around mid-table would probably be a relief and the next step in our progression. But there is an optimistic section of our fans who think we’ve got a chance of doing a little bit better than that.

NFN:  Your manager seems a bit of a character and his style of play seems exciting, how have you rated him since his arrival?

CR: He’s been sensational. You only need to look at the results since he arrived to see the impact he’s had. We’d have been very comfortably mid-table if the season started when he came in. The previous gaffer was very much in a similar mould and was well-loved here but Struber is definitely an upgrade. He brought all of the same energy and attacking flair but with a lot more structure and defensive solidity. It sometimes gives me a headache trying to work out our formation pre-match but he’s earned our trust and almost every decision he’s made so far has paid off. The emotion he showed after the final whistle of the Brentford game just showed how much he has invested in this team of young players and as a fan it’s so good to see.

NFN: What do you know about Forest and how do you fancy us to go this season?

CR: I know that it must be a frustrating club to be a fan of! Always billed as a contender before the season but constantly falling short. It’s clearly a club with a famous history and a massive fan base. In that respect there’s a lot of potential there, all you need is a manager who can click everything into place (easier said than done). I don’t know a great deal about Lamouchi but I’d question whether he’s the right man judging from his tactics during the game at Oakwell and how you fell away in the last few games. Looks like you’ve made some useful additions, particularly Taylor, so I’d expect you to be troubling the top half rather than the bottom. But who knows with Forest!

NFN: Who do we need to look out for today?

CR: Assuming we play a full-strength side, I’d say Callum Styles. He only came into our midfield post-lockdown but ended up being one of the key factors in us staying up. One moment that sticks in my mind was 0-0 in the final minutes against Forest. You were through on goal, two-on-one and seemed certain to score. But Styles made a lung-busting run back and perfectly timed a tackle before starting the move that led to our winner. Plus the brilliant opening goal against Brentford. He’s only just turned 20 but looks like he’s been playing in the league for 10 years. So brave and dynamic on the ball. The boy clearly has an incredibly bright future so the news a few weeks ago about him signing a new long term deal was music to all of our ears. I can’t wait to see how he gets on this season.
Leeds United v Barnsley - Sky Bet Championship

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NFN: What else do Barnsley need before the transfer window slams shut?

CR: I think if you asked every Barnsley fan this question, 99% would come back and say experience, experience, experience. We’ve got the youngest team in the league and although they will have learned a lot from the climax of last season, if we had a few older heads in the team then we might never have been in that situation. I can’t see that happening due to our transfer policy of investing in younger talent but the impact Sollbauer (the one recent exception to that rule) had at centre-back when he arrived in January spoke volumes. A grizzled Championship midfield general would be welcome to stop us being bullied out of games. Our ratio of chances created to converted last season was also frankly ridiculous, so a proven finisher would also do nicely.

NFN: Finally, what will the score be this afternoon?

The opening game is always pretty difficult to predict so I’m just going to go with a repeat of July 19th, 1-0 to Barnsley. Schmidt off the bench to bag the winner in the last minute.
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