The Athletic has claimed that James Garner thought he’d be returning to Nottingham Forest on a permanent deal in the summer. It’s thought that the midfielder felt that his days at Manchester United were numbered and didn’t say a proper goodbye to his teammates.

The 21-year-old was a real man on a mission last season. He grew as a player under Steve Cooper and his performances in the run-in towards promotion were a joy to behold.

Garner enjoyed two separate spells at Forest. Chris Hughton signed him in January 2021 and helped the club maintain their status as a Championship club.

Garner Forest
(Photo; Tony McArdle; Everton FC; Getty Images)

Then, the former Forest boss managed to sign him again. This time he only made three appearances under Hughton before Cooper came in and replaced him.

Garner, it’s fair to say, did take some time to get up to speed during his second spell. Cooper took him under his wing, however, and he soon started to shine again.

During 2021/22 he made 49 appearances for the Reds in total. He scored four goals and registered 10 assists; with Forest arguably missing his set pieces this season.

It does seem as though United messed Garner about a bit. Erik ten Hag wouldn’t let him leave and by the time he made a U-turn, Forest had added a plethora of midfield options.

Garner thought he’d be returning to Forest

This is a bit of a sad situation. Forest would have surely paid the money for Garner had United made their mind up on the player a little bit quicker.

Cooper is a huge fan of the player and they enjoyed a warm embrace at the weekend when Garner returned as Forest face Everton.

Garner Forest
(Photo; James Williamson; AMA; Getty Images)

Roy Keane was impressed with Garner last season when he watched him in action. He called him ‘very good’ after Forest had narrowly lost 1-0 to Liverpool in the FA Cup.

Garner has made just six appearances for Everton this season. Now, Forest will constantly wonder what might have been had United sold them Garner earlier in the summer transfer window.

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