The narrative is always the same.
"Next season, with a bunch of new signings, this team will be going places."
It's a trap into which every football fan has stumbled at one time or another. A trap that has been violently hyped what with the yellow ticker and tie and Jim White's excitable tones.
But it shouldn't be forgotten that part of the reason the club is in this fine mess is at least partly due to some signings that didn't quite work out.
That's not to say that a club spending money to bring a new player into the squad should be cast aside into the seventh circle of Dante's Inferno. Sure, signings can be fantastic things and Forest - like every other club - has benefited from a signing or two at some stage, be it challenging at the top of the table or fighting off the howling dogs at the bottom. A new signing can galvanise a dressing room, shake things up a little and on occasions, be that godforsaken final piece in the rather complex jigsaw.
It should be also be acknowledged that sometimes, new signings simply just don't work out. The science can be difficult to explain. Maybe the player and his family simply doesn't settle or like the area. Perhaps the player's skills aren't quite right for the team. After all, new signings aren't a piece of machinery that slot seamlessly into the bigger piece of machinery that can be taken off the shelf from some monolithic warehouse. They are, after all, humans.
Be that as it may, there is another way. A manager and his coaching staff surely have a responsibility to improve whatever lies at their disposal. Furthermore, they already have access to the club's youth system - Academy or otherwise - from which to select or develop players. Given that all we seem to see of football managers in the modern age is them talking guardedly to the various press outlets, it is easy to forget that these people are (supposed) to have a deep knowledge of the game; they are experts in their field. Part of their remit must be to pass on that wealth of experience in order to develop individuals as players so that they can help the team.
Let's be clear here. Bringing in new players is an essential part of developing a team. However, it would be nice to think that the club has learned some lessons regarding how to conduct business in the future. Once the embargo is lifted, a cautious approach would be advisable rather than rushing into the sweet shop with a month's worth of pocket money. The club has a thriving Academy, producing a batch of very promising players, borne out by excellent runs in the FA Youth Cup in recent years and numerous players progressing to the first team. This should be the first place that the club should turn when considering first team squad development.
If it's the case that a player isn't quite ready, the coaching staff at both Academy and first team level should have a cup of tea together to explore why the player isn't. And that's fine. Sometimes a player doesn't progress in the way everyone hopes he might. If the solution isn't under everyone's noses, conduct some very thorough due diligence and go out and write a cheque or use Paypal or whatever to bring a player in.
But let's not beg, plead, harangue for loads of new ('stellar' anyone?) signings once the summer rolls around. They are part of the solution - not the actual solution.
Sometimes I think it would be good if clubs wouldn't have any money to spend, forcing them to have a good academy. https://t.co/pGTcxiata6— Johan Cruyff (@JohanCruyff) February 1, 2016