Just 14 months ago Forest fans were preparing themselves for the play-off semi-final against Swansea — only 12 months after losing out to Blackpool at the same stage in 2010.
Nobody could have foreseen what would have happened in the aftermath of defeat to the South Wales side. Billy Davies was relieved of his duties, Steve McClaren didn’t last till the winter and Nigel Doughty resigned as chairman before his tragic death in February. Steve Cotterill steered the club clear of relegation, with varying levels of success, before his dismissal yesterday.
Now, after months of takeover speculation and dodging the worst case scenario of administration, the Al-Hasawi family are the new owners of Nottingham Forest. We asked three Seat Pitch contributors what they want and hope for…
The reaction to Nottingham Forest’s new owners has been broadly positive but with a few voices also expressing some nervousness during this period of uncertainty as we wait to find out what the Al-Hasawi family plans to do with its new football club. I think that this is exactly how it should be. We should be assuming the best of our new owners, who appear to be enthusiastic football people who have experience of club administration, but we should also be cautious, conscious of the gravity of the moment and also of other takeovers which have had disastrous consequences.
My personal hopes are that the owners will seek to build long-term success, which for me means that we need to have clear commitments to a way of playing, a type of management, a productive academy with a pathway to the first team, defined financial budgets and cost structures which support long-term sustainability and an extended club family bringing together fans, owners, management and players – past and present. It would be churlish not to want to see some investment directly into the first team and while clearly we need it, so I hope that transfer dealings though needing to be efficient will also be long-term, thought through and inclusive of the club’s acquisition team – manager, chief scout and academy director.
So, let us welcome our new owners warmly, whilst also holding them to account honestly and openly, and look to build something together that we can be proud of.
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There is no doubt that these are interesting days for Nottingham Forest; interesting and, hopefully, very exciting. The future path of this historic football club depends hugely on decisions taken in the next few days and weeks and we must simply hope and trust that these decisions lead us to the best of times, rather than the worst of times. The club and fans must not get carried away on a swell of Middle Eastern money.
Without doubt, we have a prime opportunity to build a new Nottingham Forest, one built from the bottom with sound principles based on the continuing success of a well-funded and thriving academy and a genuine, contemporary footballing philosophy. Steady progression with a long-term aim of Premier League survival must be the goal. The club will never have an opportunity like this again; an opportunity to build a new future that is worthy of its history.
Clearly the immediate future is the most pressing issue at current, and a manager-less side is like a ship without a rudder. The new owners need to act quickly, but also be diligent in their choice of new leader. The club is crying out for a young, exciting manager with a healthy long-term, progressive and creative philosophy and the imagination to integrate the products of a thriving academy with more established footballers. There are a few managers around who could do the job, but I would be calling Crystal Palace and doing my best to persuade Dougie Freedman to leave a very comfortable, good job for an exciting new project at the City Ground.
I really do think after such a turbulent year, this is a chance for a clean slate and start fresh both on and off the pitch.
First of all, I’d like to see increased communication between the board and the fans, something that was lacking under the latter years of Nigel Doughty’s tenure. Fawaz Al-Hasawi has been extremely open on Twitter, and the decision to allow season ticket holders to meet with the new owners is a good one, and is certainly something to lay the foundations of what will hopefully be a positive relationship.
On the field, we need a new manager. Obviously we all want someone who will play a fluent brand of football in tune with ‘the Forest way’ and at the same time will nurture our newly named Nigel Doughty Youth Academy and its players after being neglected under Davies, McClaren and Cotterill.
I am still sceptical over some of the ‘bigger’ names linked with the job (McLeish et al) and hope, when the new man is appointed, he is given total control of transfers. I hate the idea of players from the Middle East being brought in without a manger’s say so. I’m all for spending – the squad obviously needs it – but I’d rather we didn’t go mad, and did things sensibly. I’m hoping we see sustainable and calculated progression rather than frequent, expensive mistakes.