It’s fair to say that it was an eventful end to 2012 for Nottingham Forest Football Club, culminating in the sacking of Sean O’Driscoll and the subsequent appointment of Alex McLeish.
It all started with the most bizarre Boxing Day any Reds’ fan is ever likely to encounter. After witnessing one of our best overall displays of the season, beating fellow promotion contenders Leeds 4-2 at the City Ground, I was cautiously optimistic about the second half of the season. I believed we had finally turned that elusive corner and was really looking forward to the Crystal Palace game. No one could have expected the dramatic twist that followed.
Later that evening, Sean O’Driscoll was sacked.
It shocked not only those who bleed red blood, but the rest of the footballing world as well. After an impressive victory, and with Forest sitting only a point off the playoffs, this controversial move by the Al-Hasawi family was the last thing that anyone had expected. Though that in itself doesn’t necessarily mean it was the wrong decision for the club.
I have always been a huge advocate of the theory that continuity is the key to success in football. You only need to look at the examples of Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United, Arsene Wenger at Arsenal, David Moyes at Everton or Tony Pulis at Stoke City, to see the positive impact giving a manager time can have on the fortunes of a club.
Turning a football club around isn’t easy and, as I have stated previously, the only way to achieve long term success is through the age-old combination of hard work and time. Of course, you also need to be sure that the man at the helm has vision … and the necessary tools by which to achieve it.
Although, it’s true to say that the most successful clubs are the ones that give their managers sufficient time to implement their plans, that doesn’t mean that if you leave any given manager in a job for long enough he will eventually achieve great things.
If David Platt had been left in charge at the City Ground for the past decade would we be a Champions League outfit by now? I doubt it. More likely, we’d be selling off the Trent End for scrap metal.
Giving a manager a wealth of time is definitely the right thing to do, as long as you can see overall progress within the club; as long as you still believe he’s moving things in the right direction. This is why I believe Forest were right to part company with both Steve McClaren and Steve Cotterill, the previous two incumbents of the role.
However, I cannot truthfully say that I agree with the decision to sack Sean O’Driscoll.
I know things have not been perfect during the 2012/13 season so far but I believe there were tangible signs that the team were improving and were very much in contention for a playoff place. I liked the style of football Sean O’Driscoll was trying to adopt, even though what we have seen on the pitch this season is far from the finished product. It takes longer than half a season to build a winning team from scratch.
We will be travelling to Pride Park next week, with our fifth manager in as many derby games. I do not believe such instability can possibly be the blueprint for a team who seeks a sustained period of success. By appointing Alex McLeish, Forest have made the decision to start all over again. Personally, I would have given O’Driscoll a full season at the very least.
This is just my opinion and we will never find out, for sure, where Sean O’Driscoll would have taken us. I firmly believe that the Al Hasawi family made this bold move for all the right reasons and with the best interest of the club at heart. For whatever reason, they obviously did not feel that O’Driscoll was the man to take us to the Premiership. That being the case, it was better to act before the January transfer window opened, giving Alex McLeish the chance to put his own stamp on the team, perhaps filling some of the gaps he feels the squad currently has.
Football is all about opinions. I, like many other Forest fans, didn’t agree with the decision to change managers halfway through the season. However, it’s reassuring to see that the vast majority of these supporters have continued to get fully behind the team (and the new manager) in spite of this.
As football fans we aren’t always going to agree with decisions that our made. In fact, whatever the Al Hasawi family do there will always be at least one supporter who thinks they should have done the opposite. What’s important is that we roar our troops on regardless!
You never know, as unlikely as it seems now, Alex McLeish may be the man to take us to the Promised Land!