Mark Arthur joined David Jones, Sam Allardyce and George Boateng on The Footballers’ Football Show last night. Here’s what the Nottingham Forest chief executive had to say…

David Jones: You have new owners at Nottingham Forest. Who does Sean O’Driscoll speak to?

Mark Arthur: Sean works with Keith Burt, who’s our director of recruitment, and they in turn speak to me. We don’t see our major shareholder on a regular basis; Fawaz Al Hasawi is based in Kuwait, but he tries to get over here as often as he can. Our chairman is Omar Al Hasawi, who is based in London, and he gets up for every game. The dialogue is very good.

We’re four months into a new relationship. We started the new season very late — the takeover didn’t take place until pre-season had begun — and they’ve been really good because they’ve allowed Sean and Keith to bring in players that they want to bring in. Today, with Alan Hutton, we’re up to 15 players that have come into Nottingham Forest this year. It will take time to settle down.

We had a meeting earlier this week with the owners to discuss where were at the moment and what we want to do in January. Communication is absolutely vital and even if it’s not saying much, but talking to each other, so that you cannot let people divide and conquer you, that is the way forward.


DJ: What’s the harder thing to do? Sacking a manager or finding a new one?

MA: I think it’s recruiting the right person. Often you can be talking to a potential new manager, talking about different aspects of the job and certainly when we were talking to Steve McClaren last year about coming in — I think he’d just been rejected for a position in the Premier League — I’m not sure he was quite ready for the challenge that we had. We were looking at it from one perspective, and he was looking at from another, and there was definitely a breakdown in communication and that’s why Steve decided to leave after 111 days.

Mistakes are made by all parties in that respect. Hopefully what we’ve done this year in recruiting Sean O’Driscoll is we’ve got somebody the players wanted and the fans wanted; somebody who’s a builder and will quietly go about his business. And that’s in line with the vision of our new owners as well, who’ve said they’d like to get to the Premier League within four years. They want to build the club properly and have proper foundations, so that’s great from Sean’s point of view and also from mine.

George Boateng: During my time at Forest I hardly spoke to Mark because he was busy recruiting. With the new owners, the rumour was that they were looking for a top, high-profile manager and then they ended up going to Sean. What was the truth? Did they fail with the recruitment to get a top manager?

MA: They went through the interviewing process properly. But the people that they’d spoken to either weren’t convinced it was the right job for them or the owners weren’t convinced that the person they were speaking to was right for Nottingham Forest. But rather than rushing into an appointment they then took stock and spoke to myself and Keith Burt and said ‘what should we be doing?’. And that’s where we were able to come in with our experience at Nottingham Forest and help them make that decision. I’m very comfortable with that decision and I think the whole club has got harmony running through its veins for the first time in a very long time.

GB: The league table shows…

MA: We’ve got 26 points and last year it took us 31 games to get to 26 points. When you bring in 14 or 15 new players very quickly it takes time to settle down. Sean has done a remarkable job in a very short period of time and we’ve had a number of injuries in our defence, hence Alan Hutton signing for us today. So I think the best is yet to come and it may not come until next year but who knows, if we’re in a good position just after Christmas and running into March, we might make a challenge.

DJ: Have the ambitions changed with the Al Hasawis? Is promotion now a demand rather than a hope?

MA: It’s certainly not this year or next year but eventually it is an expectation that we will get to the Premier League. I think this year the quality of the teams and the quality of the players is the best yet and the competition is unbelievable — everybody can beat everybody else. Whoever gets promoted this year will have done incredibly well. Of course then they will have the opportunity of getting the revenues that the Barclays Premier League will give you. And even if you get relegated you’ve still got a better chance than clubs like Nottingham Forest of getting back up on the first occasion. It would be great if we did but maybe this group of players will really compete, right from the start next season. But we’re always hopeful.

If you missed the show, a podcast is available on the Sky Sports website.

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