Barely 24 hours after Sean O’Driscoll was relieved of his duties, former Aston Villa and Birmingham manager Alex McLeish was appointed the new manager of Nottingham Forest. Billy Sexton assesses his prospects.
Following the dismissal of Sean O’Driscoll yesterday, Nottingham Forest have appointed Alex McLeish as their new manager. His first game in charge will be a tough home tie against Ian Holloway’s Crystal Palace.
McLeish was appointed by chairman Fawaz Al Hasawi. In a statement, Al Hasawi said he was “delighted to welcome Alex to our club and look forward to working with him.” He goes on to observe McLeish’s success in gaining promotion with Birmingham City in the 2009-10 season.
Interestingly, Al Hasawi only mentioned that he believes McLeish to be the man who “can help us fulfil our ambition of making it to the Premier League.” There’s no word of what McLeish’s fortune may be should Forest gain promotion under his guidance and every word muttered by the Al Hasawis is likely to be rigorously scrutinised by fans for the foreseeable future.
Forest fans have spent the day criticising the dramatic change in policy from the Al Hasawis and although struggling to come to terms with O’Driscoll’s dismissal, a slight bubble of optimism floated above the City Ground when rumours that former Chelsea boss Roberto Di Matteo could take the helm were coupled with competitive bookmaker odds. That bubble was burst with the appointment of McLeish.
The 53-year-old Scot certainly has a chequered history in the Midlands. After managing Rangers and the Scottish national side, he took charge of Birmingham in 2007 and ensured a return to top-flight football for the Blues the following season. A ninth place finish for Birmingham in their return to the Premier League marked their best-ever finish. McLeish ensured that Arsenal’s ‘trophy drought’ continued with victory in the 2011 League Cup, but this was overshadowed by Birmingham’s relegation in the same season.
He then made a controversial move across the West Midlands to Aston Villa and barely managed to avoid relegation for a second consecutive season. He’s statistically the worst-ever Aston Villa manager, winning just seven of 38 league games and left the job after just one season in charge.
It’s not all doom and gloom for Nottingham Forest though. Opta were quick to point out that McLeish has a much better Championship record than he does in the Premier League. The statisticians tweeted “50% – Alex McLeish’s win percentage as a manager in the Championship, compared to 24% in the Premier League. Appointed.” Although this accounts for just a sole season with Birmingham, McLeish did in fact win 23 of his 46 Championship games, and in the same season Birmingham lost just nine games – the fewest of any team in the league.
Lies, damned lies and statistics, eh…
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