IT won’t quite be the Old Firm game, but the East Midlands derby will, nevertheless, provide a stern test for Mark Warburton when he makes his debut as Nottingham Forest manager this afternoon.
The once-great English club is battling to avoid relegation from the Sky Bet Championship this season and recent form – they have won just once in their last seven games – is hardly encouraging.
Losing to their near neighbours Derby County - who themselves will have Gary Rowett, a prospective replacement for Warburton at Ibrox before Pedro Caixinha was appointed, in the dugout – at the City Ground today will not be well received by their supporters.
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With Forest in fifth bottom spot in the English second tier just two points above the relegation zone, a defeat to their fierce local rivals would leave them in a truly dire predicament with just eight games of the 2016/17 campaign remaining.
Warburton, though, is confident that he will be able to deal with the intense pressure and the considerable expectation there is to succeed at the two-time European Cup winners as a result of his time in charge at Rangers.
The Englishman, who left Glasgow in bizarre circumstances last month after just over a season and a half, appreciates the demands there will be on him to deliver results and steer his new club to safety will, despite their troubled recent history, be huge.
However, the 54-year-old is well used to that. He was charged with securing promotion to the Ladbrokes Premiership in his first season at Rangers and duly did so. He also had to overcome a far more expensively assembled Celtic side in the William Hill Scottish Cup semi-final and pulled that off.
This season may not, by his own admission, have gone to plan for a variety of reasons. His signings failed to perform or, in some cases, even feature in the first team. Celtic, buoyed by the arrival of Brendan Rodgers, ran out comfortable winners in their three meetings. Form and results were often disappointing. Backing for him, among the directors and in the stands, was minimal when he exited acrimoniously.
But Warburton, who has been joined in Nottingham by both his assistant Davie Weir and his head of recruitment Frank McParland, feels that his spell at the helm of the 54-times Scottish champions and former European Cup Winners’ Cup winners will prove invaluable to him in his new role.
“You should learn from every job you go into,” he said. “Rangers is a huge club, a global club, a club with tremendous backing. You learn about expectation, you learn about demands, you learn about short, medium and long term expectations.
“They talk about it being like a goldfish bowl in Glasgow. It really is like that. The first press conference at Rangers was all about expectation. But it was a tremendous working experience and I really enjoyed my time there.”
There is certainly no avoiding Forest’s glorious past when you arrive at the City Ground. Photographs of their fabled former teams and their many achievements of yesteryear adorn the walls inside the stadium.
Taking pride of place in the boardroom where Warburton held his first press conference on Thursday afternoon are the two European Cup trophies won by is illustrious predecessor Brian Clough back in 1979 and 1980. No pressure then.
Yet, the former City of London trader feels there are parallels with Rangers. “It is very similar,” he said. “You walk around Ibrox and you have the trophy room and the blue room and the marble staircase. You just smell the history, literally smell the history of the club.
“That is what the club is about here. You talk about the expectation and the fans and the fan base here. Look around you. You have two got European Champions League trophies here. It is magnificent. You have to enjoy that and recognise it.
“Fans here have been reared on European triumphs. There will be people sitting in the stands on Saturday who will have been to the European campaigns and seen the trophy being lifted. It was exactly the same at my previous club where there was a magnificent history.
“That is the expectation. It is in their blood. They are used to seeing their team winning, to going on these European adventures.”
Forest have, like Rangers before he took over, been plagued by financial and off-field problems. Their current owner, Kuwaiti businessman Fawaz Al-Hasawi, is reportedly in talks to sell his stake. Just avoiding the unthinkable prospect of going down to the third tier would satisfy their long-suffering supporters this term given the state they are in on and off the park.
Enjoying European success is unrealistic for a provincial club with such a small fan base in the modern game. But returning to the top flight of English football is an achievable goal. Warburton is hopeful that, in time, he can realise those ambitions.
“You talk about the super clubs now and look at the financial disparity that is there between leagues, all these problems that were never there 30 or 40 years ago,” he said. “But you have to find a way to overcome them. You hope very much you can put the building blocks in place to give the club the chance to repeat these dreams.”