Just five months after rejoining Nottingham Forest, taking the club to within a point of the play-offs and winning over many fans with his progressive footballing philosophy, Sean O’Driscoll was sacked by the Al Hasawis last night. Billy Sexton reflects on the timing of the owners’ decision.
Nottingham Forest and Sean O’Driscoll have parted ways, in a shock move that sees the Al Hasawi owners attempt “to move the club forward”.
The decision surprised many Forest fans and came after the club recorded its first Boxing Day win in six years. The Reds overturned a one goal deficit to defeat Leeds United 4-2 and put them within one point of the play-off positions.
Personalities from the football world have expressed their shock, with Match of the Day presenter Gary Lineker tweeting “Sean O’Driscoll has lost his job at Forest. Beat Leeds 4-2, a point off play-off spot. Happy Christmas! #barmy.”
Nottingham Post reporter and Forest fan, Peter Blackburn, also took to the social networking site and revealed that he was “Absolutely disgusted by this news. Sean was the right man. Distinctly unimpressed. Not happy at all.”
The decision will possibly see Nottingham Forest enter the January transfer window without a manager. Given Sean O’Driscoll’s shrewd summer signings which saw Danny Collins and Simon Cox come to the City Ground on permanent deals, with Southampton’s Billy Sharp being one of many loan signings, fans will feel that O’Driscoll should have been given more time by the Kuwaiti owners. A full season as manager would have allowed O’Driscoll to make more signings in January, with the possibility of a play-off push in the second half of the season.
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Compared to the 2011-12 season, in which Forest were defeated at home by Peterborough United on Boxing Day and lay 22nd in the Championship, it is undoubtedly the case that O’Driscoll has transformed the fortunes of the club. However, it’s doubtful that any manager could have done what O’Driscoll has without the financial backing provided by the Al Hasawis.
Football supporters of all clubs are quick to criticise the decisions made by wealthy owners but sometimes overlook how integral financial input has been to the fortune of the club. Whilst Forest fans may point out that, deep down, promotion this season was still very much a hope rather than expectation, when it comes to decision making and owners like the Al Hawasis, the only expectation that is taken in to consideration is their own.
In their statement, the Al Hawasis observed how Forest “are still searching for consistency in terms of team performance, underlined by the fact that we have not won more than two games in succession in the Championship” and their point is certainly a valid one. The owners have made clear their intention to push for promotion this season, despite runs of form similar to that of league leaders Cardiff City (one loss in nine), Hull City (unbeaten in six) and play-off contenders Millwall (unbeaten from 29th September to 8th December).
Regardless of the controversy surrounding the sacking, Nottingham Forest must now look forward as a club as they enter the New Year. The Al Hasawi owners are keen to “bring in an ambitious manager with Premier League experience.” Roberto Di Matteo? Unfortunately the first realistic name that springs to mind is Mark Hughes…
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