Forest boss Warburton promises to build on club’s survival

Date published: Monday 8th May 2017 11:13

Mark Warburton: Could take over at Forest this summer

Nottingham Forest boss Mark Warburton insists the club must never find itself in the same position again after surviving relegation from the Championship.

The Reds stayed up on goal difference after a 3-0 home win against Ipswich on the final day of the season, condemning Blackburn to the drop.

Either Forest, Rovers or Birmingham were set to join Rotherham and Wigan in League One next season and the early indications were it would be the two-time European champions, who previously spent three seasons in the third tier between 2005 and 2008.

However, the nerves and tension eased at the City Ground as the afternoon progressed as two goals from Britt Assombalonga, the first from the penalty spot, either side of Chris Cohen’s strike kept Forest up on goal difference despite Blackburn winning 3-1 at Brentford.

The hosts could even afford to see a second Assombalonga spot-kick brilliantly saved by Bartosz Bialkowski.

Warburton wants his team to be challenging towards the other end of the table next season.

He said: “We can never allow ourselves to be in this position again. Ever. I said to the boys we must make a vow to make sure this never happens again.

“The last few weeks have hurt but we have to remember this feeling and make sure we never experience it again, it can’t be allowed to happen.

“A relegation dogfight is not what we are about and I am confident it won’t happen next season, and I say that because I have seen the quality within the squad.

“I’ve seen enough in the seven or eight weeks I’ve been here to know that with a good pre-season behind us we can put a marker down next season.

“That will come through hard work and commitment every single day and I know we have that. The players have been first class since I came to this club, their attitude has been first class.”

It looked bleak for Forest early on as news filtered through of goals for Blackburn and Birmingham, meaning Forest would be the one’s to be relegated unless they could score.

Their destiny was shaped by five first half minutes which saw Jordan Smith produce a superb save and then Assombalonga score from the penalty spot.

“You are aware of the situation elsewhere, you can hear the crowd,” said Warburton. “We knew what was happening but it was always about us. We could only control what we did here, we had no control over what was happening at Griffin Park.

“The save from Jordan was magnificent, world class. It was as important as a goal. Then we get the penalty and Britt puts it away brilliantly with some aplomb, then we have the advantage going into half-time and we know what we have to do.

“We had to be positive and on the front foot and the character we showed was fantastic.

“Obviously the over-riding feeling is relief – and delight. Delight for the players, the fans and the club. It was a huge game for us. We knew what was at stake and the consequences, the significance, the implications. It was a big occasion.

“The backing from the fans was amazing. This is a huge club and now we have to move forward and build. As I say, this can never be allowed to happen again.”

Ipswich manager Mick McCarthy was happy to see Forest survive and felt the game at the City Ground encapsulated his side’s campaign.

“I thought the first half was pretty even, we matched them. They had the better of the second half and maybe that was because they had more to play for,” said McCarthy.

“In the end it’s brilliant, it’s like Nottingham Forest have won the league. The scenes have been brilliant. It was either going to be a wake or a celebration and up until they scored the penalty it could have been a wake. But good for them, good for Mark Warburton.

“In the end that game has probably summed our season up – some good, some bad and some indifferent.”

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