The most important signing a football chairman will ever make must be his side’s manager, which will be priority number one for John Jay Moores if he ever takes over at Nottingham Forest.
The current situation at the City Ground is possibly the worst in the club’s 151-year history, and you feel for the persons charged with sorting out this awful mess. Should the Americans receive the keys to the stadium, the scene will be akin to that of burgled property. The whole place is in an almighty mess and I don’t envy the task ahead for Mr Moores, Charles Noell and their consortium.
Where do you start? Well, the answer is simple. Replace the first-team coach ASAP and make sure you choose wisely. This will not only be the first decision, but possibly the most important you will make as the new owner of any football club. Selecting the right gaffer hides a multitude of sins and buys valuable time off the field of play.
If you’re searching for a good example of a comparable scenario, then look no further than Leeds United. The similarities are frightening. Since 2014, the failing Yorkshire outfit have been under the stewardship of Massimo Cellino, a man with a colourful past to say the least. Despite having an almost identical modus operandi to Fawaz Al-Hasawi, Cellino has finally hit the jackpot with his recruitment of former Swansea boss Garry Monk, who has transformed Leeds from mid-table monotony into play-off powerhouses and, in doing so, he has watered down the blazing boardroom, or so it seems.
The truth of the matter is that Massimo Cellino still haunts the corridors of Elland Road, but when the team is winning, people pay a lot less attention to his presence. That said, he’s recently sold up a 50% stake in the club to fellow Italian Andrea Radrizzani. In less than three years, Cellino has been suspended from duty by the Football League twice, retracted a sale of the club to the fans and sacked a total of six managers. Sound familiar?
When Moores and Co take the hot seat at Forest, if we’re honest, it’s going to take a couple of years to steady the ship, as they say. Hence the point I’m alluding to, which is to get the right manager in at the first time of asking. Obviously, he’ll inherit the current squad which, for the record, isn’t as bad as Kenny Burns would have you believe. Yes, it’s average but by no means the worst in the club’s history.
The coach, on the other hand, is, without doubt, the ineptest since the shinny players laid down their sticks in 1865. Philippe Montanier has lost the dressing room, and the players simply do not believe in him any more. They have not turned bad overnight, but I forgive fans for seeing it that way.
So, who could turn this nightmare into a pleasant dream? Gary Rowett is a name on everybody’s lips. Then you can throw in the likes of Nigel Pearson, Mike Phelan and Nigel Clough for good measure. Rowett does seem the most realistic prospect but, like Pearson, it would not be the Forest way of playing the game. But what exactly is that, and who do we think we are these days? Forest fans are the perennial moaners and compare everything and anything to Clough and European glory, both of which will sadly never be seen again. Rowett gets results with average players but there would be sacrifices, I warn you. His Birmingham sides were the closest I’ve seen to the Wimbledon ‘Crazy Gang’ of the late 80s. They kicked hell out of us on a couple of occasions and weren’t
afraid to take a dive when it came back their way. However, beggars can’t be choosers and if we want to avoid League One, then it may be a case of needs must.
At the beginning of this piece, I said that careful recruitment was paramount, which is something that can’t be said for the revolving-door policies that Fawaz and Cellino have previously adopted. Here is the combined list of managers that both owners have hired and fired in just six-and-a-half years between them. Brian McDermott, Dave Hockaday, Darko Milanic, Neil Redfearn, Uwe Rosler and Steve Evans were all culled by Mad Massismo. While Steve Cotterill (sacked by Al-Hasawi family), Sean O’Driscoll, Alex McLeish (mutual consent), Billy Davies, Stuart Pearce and Dougie Freedman were axed by frenzied Fawaz. Despite all their misgivings and anomalies, both men wish to remain at their respective clubs in some capacity. John Jay Moores has made no secret of the fact that eventually he wants complete control of Nottingham Forest, which is a view shared by most of the supporters.
It remains to be seen when the takeover of NFFC will ever happen but there are a couple of positives awaiting the Texan and his associates on arrival, such as the successful academy and the return of Daniel Pinillos. The first port of call will be to replace the current first team coach. A choice so significant that it could make or break the club as we know it.