This week the usual author of ‘Interview with an away fan’ (Ryan) is away on holiday, so I caught up with Rish Baruah from Nottingham Forest fan site, for a look ahead to our first away game of the season at the City Ground.

TSS – After a long summer of World Cup disappointment, I bet you’re glad to be back at City Ground for the first home game of 2010-11?

Rish – Well, sort of – obviously there is nothing to beat the excitement of seeing your team walk out for the first home game of the season, but it has been an underwhelming summer in the transfer market with one player leaving permanently and two on six-month loans, and only young Ryan Bertrand coming in on a six-month loan. It makes our paper-thin squad look positively transparent.

TSS – The game will be broadcast live on Sky Sports. How do the cameras usually affect your team’s performances?

Rish – For years we had the “Sky hoodoo” where we didn’t win in front of the cameras for about two years. They seemed to have got over that last season, at least until the play-offs. Eek…

TSS – Missing out on promotion last season must have been a real blow for Forest fans. Were lessons learnt from that experience that you think will give you an edge this season, or are you expecting more of the same?

Rish – Of course it was disappointing to miss out, but the squad overachieved massively to get to third in the table. That’s why I think it is ludicrous that the bookies regard us as one of the favourites to go up this season.

TSS – Who will be Forest’s danger men this season? Any new signings you’re particularly excited about?

Rish – Well as you know we haven’t really had any – if we can get Darren Pratley I would be delighted, he was awesome for Swansea last season and exactly the kind of powerful attacking midfielder we need. I am sure little Robbie Earnshaw will get his customary 15-20 goals this season, and I hope Raddy Majewski can be at his imperious best again.

Forest manager, Billy Davies

TSS – Billy Davies has a bit of a reputation with Leeds fans after his antics at Preston. Has he made a good impression with Forest fans so far?

Rish – Personally I think he comes across as a horrible little man who only has his own interests at heart, but fortunately he is a damn good manager at this level (when he puts his mind to it). I get the impression that many Reds are fed-up with his tendency to play politics in his media interviews (and arguably – allegedly – possibly – with his team selections).

Ultimately however, we are all fickle, no-one cares about his Derby past and football fans will forgive most things if he can bring us something to cheer.

TSS – What are your feelings on Leeds United? Do you see the two sets as fans as kindred spirits trapped in a division they don’t necessarily belong? Or is it pure hatred like most other clubs?

Rish – I don’t hate Leeds but you can come across as one of those clubs with a real siege mentality which undoubtedly can be an asset when you are winning, but can make it hard to like you at other times; whether you see that as positive or not is another matter! Forest’s third season in League One was crucial in many respects as I think it made many fans (and possibly players) realise that this was reality and we didn’t have a right to success (especially after the humbling play-off defeat to Yeovil the previous season). I would imagine that quite a few Leeds fans are similarly realistic after a few years in the doldrums.

Incidentally, I wonder if the BBC recently showing The Damned United might have stirred up a bit of anti-Leeds feeling amongst some Reds? We are very protective of Sir Brian’s reputation around these parts…

That damned film

TSS – I think the majority of Leeds United fans respect how great a manager Brian Clough was, but ultimately, the decision to join Leeds United was ill-judged and doomed to end in tears! As for that film – I think it does a major injustice to some of our players too, so I’m not the biggest fan either!

Moving on, we’ve spoke of players coming in, but I also see James Perch has headed out to join Premier League new-boys, Newcastle United.  Big loss to the team, or another poor signing from the Geordies?

Rish – Perchio has a great attitude but limited ability – seems odd that Newcastle have paid seven figures for a squad player. Good luck to him.

TSS – Turning to Leeds, is there anyone in our side that you would love to see in a Forest shirt?

We already have one of the best keepers in the division in Lee Camp, so I wouldn’t have thought Kasper would be interested in coming here as a reserve! I have seen and heard good things about Robert Snodgrass as well – we could do with a decent winger to complement Ando.

TSS – After a long spell outside the EPL, a lot of fans would like to see us challenging for at least a play-off spot this season. Unrealistic expectations or a strong possibility in this division?

It’s the old cliché – the Championship is a tight division. Aim high and you never know – we weren’t supposed to be challenging for promotion last season! But don’t be too surprised if things don’t go well – our first season back brought heightened expectations but was a real rollercoaster and we could easily have gone straight back down.

TSS – Forest haven’t beaten Leeds since 1996, and on our last trip to your place Jermaine Beckford scored a late winner after a closely fought battle. What are your predictions for Sunday, are you expecting to buck the trend and get your first victory over Leeds United for fourteen years?

Rish – Well both teams have had disappointing results (if not necessarily performances) to start the season, so I am obviously hoping for a Forest win to kickstart the campaign. If Kelvin Wilson is fit, I would hope to keep a clean sheet so will tentatively go for 1-0 to the Reds. I’m sure that I’ve cursed it now!

Many thanks to Rish for joining us this week and good luck to Forest for the coming season. I’m really looking forward to what is usually a great day out in Nottingham.

On a side note, congratulations to Gareth Cotter who won the TSS and npower competition for two tickets to see the Forest v Leeds game this Sunday.