14 June ~ The departure of Billy Davies from Nottingham Forest earlier this week was not a great surprise to watchers of the club. His relationship with the board had been tempestuous with his constant claims of a lack of financial backing and a need for greater freedom in the transfer market, despite owner Nigel Doughty putting £25 million into Forest in the last two years. Davies had an indisputable impact at Forest during his tenure re-establishing the club at the top end of England's second tier following a decade-long slide that was finally arrested in League One by his predecessor Colin Calderwood.
Despite this, his relationships at board level always seemed shaky and many fans found his confrontational style and some of his more "professional" tactics difficult to accept. Reports that he turned down opportunities to sign Scott Sinclair and Henri Lansbury because he felt his squad was already too young also cast doubt over his ability to develop for the future, at a time when Forest are keen to capitalise on a promising crop of academy players.
The trigger for his swift removal on Sunday, though, was the availability of Steve McClaren, a man with substantial experience of top-flight management in England and abroad, but with a reputation that remains tarnished by his international record. Indeed, without the spectre of England's failure to qualify for Euro 2008 it is unimaginable that Forest could attract a manager with such a high profile and record of achievement.
McClaren was being considered for the vacant Aston Villa post until their fans made it clear they did not want him and this encouraged Forest to move quickly to secure their man. While some Forest fans have been quick to write McClaren off, much of the football world seems to have been impressed that the club have managed to secure such a well-respected manager. FC Twente reportedly offered a much more lucrative deal to try to entice their former manager back but McClaren is keen to re-establish himself at home and sees Forest as a good opportunity to do that in more manageable steps than with an established Premier League side.
It seems like an ideal match, McClaren has a reputation for bringing through young players and Forest are keen to revamp an academy that has been neglected under the buying focus of Davies. Forest are also a club that McClaren will feel have the potential to step up to a higher level, especially with the continued backing of a benevolent chairman. Stephen Wright