THE HALF DECENT FOOTBALL MAGAZINE

Dougie Freedman is club’s latest manager

icon sack4 February ~ It is hardly a surprise that Stuart Pearce was removed from his post as manager of Nottingham Forest last weekend. The team had secured just three victories in 21 Championship outings and Pearce himself had hit the crucial milestone of 32 games in charge, thereby crossing the average tenure threshold of a “permanent” Forest manager during the ownership of Fawaz Al-Hasawi.

Maybe the four points lost to disallowed goals against Rotherham and Leeds might have been enough to save him, but many Forest fans would argue that the quality of performances during his tenure did not merit even the little patience he did receive. On a personal level it seems a shame to shed a legend so soon, especially given that even with little or no upturn in form over the remaining 18 games relegation would be unlikely, but no one could claim that there were not concerns at first-team level.

Dougie Freedman was announced as his replacement with an indecent haste that suggested that while Al-Hasawi came to his “hardest footballing decision” during a long conversation with Pearce, Freedman was lurking outside the door. As a former player widely derided while wearing the Forest shirt, Freedman’s appointment has not been universally cheered. He does though speak very well about his desire to build clubs over the long term on a foundation of youth. Sadly that seems to conflict with everything the Forest owner has done to date and here lies the biggest problem for the club.

In just two-and-a-half years Al-Hasawi has appointed five permanent and two caretaker managers. He has also worked his way through three chief executives, the latest Paul Faulkner resigning immediately after Pearce’s dismissal amid claims he was not being allowed to do his job, three heads of recruitment, the same number of lead development coaches, a couple of academy managers and an unholy amount of money, without any discernible progress being made. The impression he gives is that in an ideal world he wants to do all of those jobs himself, which unfortunately means he is failing to do the job the club need from him.

As it stands Nottingham Forest are a shambles. Costs have spiralled but the lack of any coherent strategy or structure means that money is being wasted. The desperate turnover of managers increases those costs, while reducing the chances of success and ratcheting up the pressure on the next man in charge to perform, immediately. At Tuesday’s press conference John McGovern (a member of Forest’s European Cup-winning teams and now an adviser to the owner) was asked what attracted the club to their new manager. “He was available,” came the reply. One cannot help but feel he’ll be available again soon. Steve Wright

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