How much of a surprise is it that you’re back here again so quickly.
A big surprise. A pleasant one. It came out of the blue really — I’ve said to many people, two clubs in 27 years and then two clubs in the space of a couple of months. It’s not my track record to jump around but I had a really pleasant experience at the back-end of last season and I’m delighted to be back.
How much do you know about the Al-Hasawis and how much do they want to put into the club?
I think it’s a crucial part of the discussion for any football club, you need to know where you stand and what the parameters of what you’re working with are. They’ve been as honest and as upfront as they can be. You don’t buy a club of this status to settle for second best so they’re aware of the tradition and where Nottingham Forest should be as a football club. They also have seen other wealthy owners come in and make mistakes and they’re very conscious of not doing the same things.
The squad’s quite bare in certain areas. You’ve got three defenders — the oldest of those is 22 — is your priority now to get bodies in?
You don’t need to be a football manager to see that. What we don’t want to do is rush in and plug gaps and find out three months later, maybe it was the wrong decision. I think that’s crucial to try and move the club forward, it’s important and something that’s ongoing — we’re talking to an awful lot of people.
Because your appointment came comparatively late in the summer, how much more difficult has that made your job coming into the new season?
The attraction is that I know the set-up, I know the players because I was here last season — that’s made it a little bit less difficult — but we’re fighting against time. The late start to the season will help us but when you’re trying to put a back four together, you can put names on a teamsheet but then they’ve got to function together. The practicalities of doing that, once you actually get the players in, is something that we’re conscious of and we’d be foolish if we think that could happen overnight. I like to think that the players we bring in will balance but certain people play better with certain other people, that’s just human nature. The criteria, first and foremost, is to try and bring in good characters. If we’re looking around for players the thing that’s going to tick the first box, is play well in that game.
With all the talk of an iconic manager were you suprised they appointed you?
I was surprised when Steve [Cotterill] left. I’m not one for the media so I didn’t know they were looking for an iconic name. There’s no point me looking at iconic names. I thought to myself, all the iconic names I know are dead. So I’m thinking that would be a coup wouldn’t it? Nottingham Forest appoint a dead manager. It doesn’t worry me, I can’t do anything about it.
We’ve been told Danny Collins is due to hold talks imminently.
What stage are we at with that?
Well, we’re talking.
Have you had chance to meet him yet?
No. We’re talking to lots of players. This is an attractive club for people to come to and Danny Collins has got a good reputation in the game and I think he’s talking to one or two other clubs as well. We’re just throwing our hat in the ring and see what we get out.
Jermaine Jenas — would you be interested in him?
Again, if good players become available — the same old bland answers that you get from most football managers. We’ve had no contact with Jermaine so again it’s something that’s just speculation.
Can you and the Al-Hasawi family between you offer stability, something for the long-term?
The average tenure of a Championship manager is probably 12 months so stability in football clubs is a dream rather than a reality. Hopefully you can put in processes that stand the club in good stead for the future. Whoever comes in the job, you set things in place that are good for a football club. You get judged on results and you can’t change that. When you’re trying to get good results it always comes down to the little things — you’ve got to train well to play well — doing the things day in, day out. If you can do that then hopefully you get the results you want and stability.
Do you share the excitement of the fans?
I think there’s an awful lot of uncertainty about the football club and I think there probably still is. We’re a team in transition and we’ve lost a lot of players through no fault of anybody’s, the takeover took longer than expected and that uncertainty meant players out of contract left and loan players that you’d like to have re-signed went elsewhere. So I think the fact that the family have come in, made an appointment, took their first signing as well, that was something Steve would’ve liked to have done anyway — Addy did so well for us at the back-end of last season. I think they’re trying to put things together that will excite the public and you can be confident that Nottingham Forest can compete in the division.