Ranting Red: The ups and downs of Nottingham Forest fans
Without a constant fix of live football, the weekends seem to have lost their significance.
Weeknights are filled by dingy hospital dramas, blunt business minds and former terrace heroes, dragging themselves around an indoor 5-a-side pitch.
Each night we go to sleep hoping that one or two of the names rumoured around the forums comes good.
And each morning the kid inside us jumps out of bed like it’s Christmas day.
A race to the internet is quickly followed by checking all the necessary sites and #nffc trends on Twitter.
But there is not to be a shiny red mountain bike today, no scalextric set and no stellar signings of ‘intent’.
A wave of familiarity sweeps over our sleep-deprived souls, and frustration boils.
Not at the club, not at the manager, not at the players who haven’t signed, but at ourselves.
How could we let ourselves get carried away again? We ask, with a soft shake of the head and a resigned smile.
This pattern is repeated throughout the day, to serve as a reminder to what we’re not missing out on.
And why should we expect anything more?
A new manager needs time, we know that. So why are we so desperate to see a player, any player, sign for the Reds?
Steve McClaren comes to the club with a certain weight of expectancy - promotion.
Whether it be this season or next, the Premier League is now a realistic aspiration for Forest.
I for one hope the former England manager sticks around long enough to help us achieve that goal.
The size of Doughty and Arthur’s capture was made abundantly obvious, if we didn’t already know, by the national journalist on the front row at McClaren’s City Ground unveiling.
What happened with Aston Villa? Did you meet with Randy Lerner? Were you offered the job? Would you still take it?
Basically, why are you here?
McClaren stood tall, fended off the enemy’s advances and did us proud. It is nothing short of what we should expect, say his former associates, who strongly believe he is not only a top coach but also a man of his word.
The writing, however, was on the wall.
Though we are proud of our European exploits more than 30 years ago, we have not been a top tier side for over a decade.
It’s unfortunate some Forest fans haven’t seen, or aren’t old enough to remember, the last time we played in the Premiership.
But it was, nonetheless, a clear sign of the times.
For those youngsters the dark days of League One football still live fresh in their memories, as they do for all of us.
All they have is their dad’s overplayed VHS tapes of once glory days to grab hold of - ‘See son, we were good... once’.
Those three seasons in the third tier, however, could still prove to be the making of a new start for the club. Like teams before us, maybe it was our time to take a step back, so that we could move forward.
The Premiership has never been our best friend, after all.
Relegated in its first season, it would come as no surprise to most that we have spent more time trying to get into the elite league than actually playing there.
Even the great Brian Clough struggled to come to terms with the demands of the modern game.
No doubt he would have found a way to adapt, proved by many of the same players’ resurgence the following year, aided by star man Stan Collymore - a player the great manager identified before leaving the club.
The way the club recruit players has evolved somewhat since then, with the Transfer Acquisitions Panel grabbing much of the headlines, mainly for the wrong reasons over the past couple of seasons.
Their record in signing players/sanctioning deals, however, would seem to give viable reasons for its place in the City Ground structure.
In the coming days, weeks, new faces are bound to come through the Main Stand car park, it’s just a matter of who and when. So have patience.
Two decades ago football was embracing a new dawn, now the same could be said for Forest.
Only five sleep-interrupted weeks to go before we begin to find out how serious about promotion they really are, this time around.