Sunday afternoon seems like an obscure time for a football club to announce the sacking of their manager, but not at Nottingham Forest. And, what is more, no sooner had Billy Davies been given the boot, the details of Steve McClaren taking over from Davies emerged. What quickly became apparent on a lazy Sunday afternoon was that the club had been planning Davies’ departure for some time. Once Randy Lerner told McClaren he wasn’t required to attend his interview at Aston Villa, Nottingham Forest swooped in - and got their man.
As previously mentioned in my Forest end of season report - it was my opinion that Billy should stay on, see out his contract, and have one last stab at getting us to the Premier League. Despite his public outbursts, regarding the friction between him and the board over the transfer acquisitions panel, I felt that Billy had done well enough to warrant one more season in charge. Taking the club from the brink of relegation to League 1 to safety, then onto back-to-back playoff semi finals is not to be sniffed at. Subsequently, what he achieved was bringing a winning mentality back to the City Ground, and whilst most reports stick to the idea he paid the price for the clubs failure to reach the Premier League, we all know it was Billy’s recurring negligence that ultimately cost him his job.
For Forest to bag a seasoned coach such as McClaren in such a short space of time is quite remarkable
With all that being said, don’t think for one minute that I don’t welcome Steve McClaren as Billy’s replacement. There should be little debate over the man’s ability to manage at Championship level – his credentials are of a higher calibre than most in the league, and would normally be considered those of a Premier League level manager. For Forest to bag a seasoned coach such as McClaren in such a short space of time is quite remarkable. His early coaching career included a spell as assistant to Alex Ferguson at Manchester United. This provided him with the perfect environment to cut his managerial teeth at the highest level - his successes at Old Trafford include the 1999 treble winning season.
He then went onto manage Middlesbrough, winning the Teesiders their first major trophy: the League cup before taking them to the UEFA cup final. After a catastrophic tenure as England manager earned him the nickname “Wally with the brolly” McClaren went moved on to FC Twente, where he won the clubs first league title in his second season as coach, and so completed his most exceptional achievement so far. Following his recent failings at Wolfsburg, he will now focus on rebuilding his reputation within the English game.
While there are many positives regarding a manager of McClaren’s stature, my main worry for him at Forest will be how well he deals with the expectations at the club. Since Colin Calderwood achieved promotion from League 1 in 2008, expectations of Premier League football at Forest have grown with every season. McClaren’s greatest successes as a manager have come at clubs where there has been little expectation of him to achieve anything out of the ordinary (see Boro and FC Twente). When the expectations have been high such as at Wolfsburg and as they always are with England, he failed to produce the goods.
However, reports of him turning down a more lucrative offer from Holland in favour of managing Forest, is promising news for the fans. He can clearly see the potential in our current squad and although he ultimately sees us a route onto greater things, his managerial pedigree gives us a fantastic chance to get to where we want to be. I was and still am a big fan of Billy Davies due to what he achieved for the club – and while I, and many others will be disappointed with his departure, come August we may be able to see that it was for the better of the club.
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