Following his first training session this morning, Billy Davies met the media today — 20 months after he left the club…
Rob Dorsett, Sky Sports News:
Does this feel like you’re coming home to a certain extent?
Obviously it does, it’s nice to see some old faces and it’s been a very warm welcome from many people. I said before that I felt the last time I left, it was a little bit early, there was unfinished business and I genuinely believed that I would love to come back to this football club and finish off what we started.
Does that mean Premier League football?
I think it’s got to be, I think over the period we’ve got to try and take this club to where everyone thinks it belongs. That is certainly the ambition of the owners, that is certainly the ambition of the majority of people at this football club and that is certainly the ambition of myself and the staff.
How difficult was it to take for you leaving the club last time?
It’s football, we know it’s football and I’ve said time and time again that not all managers get sacked because of results. They do tell me it’s a results-driven business but we know that sometimes that obviously is not the case. I accept that these things happen, I move on in my life to my next chapter— I never thought for a second that my next chapter would be back at Nottingham Forest. Although I did say that I would love to come back one day, it certainly wasn’t a PR stunt because I did want to come back and finish the job off.
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Are you happy that what you’re walking into here is good for you?
I am very confident having spoken to Fawaz, the board and the people that now own the football club. I’ve got no doubt in my mind that these people are ambitious and they want to move the club forward and they will do all they can to get this club to the Premier division. That’s why I’m here and I’m very much looking forward to it.
Would you accept any interference from them, on the football side of things? Be that recruitment, be it team selection, any of those issues? And have you had to say that to them?
You have your discussions as normal. I’m not a fool. I may speak, if you like, to the chairman regarding players but we know that if some people are asking too much for a player, or if that figure is too high, then we know that common sense prevails. All we’ll do is try to find the right financial package and if that can happen then I’m sure the chairman and the board will do all they can to get that player.
You haven’t got to win the fans over have you?
There’s always many changes at a football club. And manager and coaches come and go, there’s no doubt that players and also the board comes and go. The one thing that’s constant is the supporters. We have got absolute loyal supporters here. Supporters that demand a certain level of football and demand a certain type of performance. That expectation I’m delighted to have here because our supporters have seen great successes in the past and are now looking for great successes in the future. But they’ve been a constant and you’ve got to give them great credit for that.
Have you been told you’ve got to win promotion this season?
There’s been no mention of promotion, there’s been no mention of any particular level we’ve got to get to. We’ll look to the next game, we’ll try and win that game, we’ll do the exact same thing between now and the end of the season with regards to the remaining 15 matches left.
Does it concern you that you’re the fourth manager here in just over seven months? Is that a worry?
Well I don’t know what took place so it’s very difficult for me to make comment, I don’t know the reasons why. What’s happened in the past, as far as I’m concerned, remains in the past and I’m very much looking forward to working with Fawaz and the board and everybody here at the club. As I said before, I’m here quite simply because I genuinely believe that I have unfinished business
And we can be clear that if new players that come into Forest, or the team that you put out on a Saturday or a Tuesday, that’s Billy Davies’ team? There won’t have been any influence in your decision?
Do you think I would be here? It’s simple, the chairman has great respect for what he’s trying to do, he’s got great understanding for the structure of the football club and the what the situation is. I’ve got great respect for him and the financial situation at the club and I know that together, if it’s possible, we will bring in the right type and do the right thing to move this club forward.
Six points off the play-offs, 13th in the table, 15 games to go — is that doable? Can you make the play-offs?
I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t think it was doable. I definitely do think that anything’s possible. We all know the Championship, the Championship from top to bottom is a very difficult league and everybody, as we all say, can beat everybody. I’ve worked with the players this morning, we have an underachieving squad, there’s an abundance of talent. I will try now, with the staff, to come in here, give them that little bit of confidence — give them that little bit of belief — and try and move it forward gamy by game.
Robin Chipperfield, BBC Radio Nottingham:
How different is the club now to the one you left 20 months ago?
There is a huge difference. Obviously there’s new owners, there’s a lot of new players, of course, there’s many staff members still here. This is a whole new ball game — many people have left, we’ve got new people here and having dealt with the people over the last couple of days. I’ve got to tell you I’m very confident in the chairman and the people at this football club, with they’re ambition and intention to move this club forwards.
Is the squad stronger than the one you left 20 months ago?
On paper. But we don’t play games on paper. We play games out on that grass and there’s no doubt that we have an underachieving squad. We do have an abundance of talent in the squad but what we’ve got to do now is try and install that little bit of confidence and belief and try and get them to fulfill their potential. They’re probably sitting at 80-85%, in my opinion, and they’ve got so much more they can do and so much more they can give. They know themselves the quality they have. We had an excellent session this morning and we’ll know try and work off the same page and do the best we can.
How do you get that extra 15-20% out of them?
Talking nonsense probably. It’s all about believing in what you’re trying to do. We’ll try and set down what we’ve done in the past with other clubs. We’re delighted with our records — every club we’ve been at so far has reached the play-offs and we’re very proud of that. We’ll try and come in here, we’ll try and lift the spirits of the current squad. We’ll certainly look at the loan market and, if required, if we have to bring in one or two then Fawaz has already said the option is there. But as I said to the chairman, if these players can start to win games and continue to win games that might not be necessary.
Where do you think you need to strengthen?
Well I don’t want to give the opposition our game plan. At the moment I’m still assessing the squad obviously. I’ll continue to assess the squad. That’s where we are at the moment. We’re assessing everyone at the club, with the staff and the players, just the way the club is functioning. We’re looking at many, many different factors on how we can improve things, how we can make life better and how we can take everyone on the same page.
Does it make it difficult joining a club without a chief executive and a head of recruitment? Does this football club need those positions filled?
To be fair to Fawaz, he’s still in the process of doing things in and around the club that needs to be changed. At the end of the day, it’s his club, it’s his money and he’d got to do what’s right for what he see fit. I’m sure the chairman will be sitting back and looking at many different departments, many different situations. And we’ll do that over a nice, lengthy process I would imagine. He knows what he’s doing, he knows where he wants to go and he’ll take time to do the right thing.
Would you rather there was a chief executive was in place? Do you need that?
I welcome football consultant, director of football, chief executive, whatever it is. I welcome that. The most important thing is that they all know what their roles and responsibilities are. It’s in football, I welcome it. I’m sure the chairman will look to see what he needs. If he believes that that’s what he needs, as far as the manager’s concerned if we’re all working together and we’re all on the same page and we all want the same thing, it will never be a problem.
Do you think you’ll have more control this time?
I think it will be very much similar. I will make a suggestion to the chairman and that suggestion will be looked at financially. And, like the chairman, if we go in for a player and we feel that the selling club is way beyond those figures then I’m sure together we’ll have to decide to move on to the next option. I think we’ve got let common sense prevail and we’ve got to make sure that we’re doing business that’s wise and within the club’s budget and within the club’s financial situation.
Is the Championship weaker than when you left it? Is there more of an opportunity to get into the top six?
I don’t think the Championship will ever change. I don’t care who comes down, I don’t care who comes up; the Championship is a very difficult league. You’ve got to give great respect to all the managers and coaches and players in the opposition team because they’re very well organised, they’re very fit and committed. It’s difficult to get three points and it will always be a very competitive league, that’s what it has been for a number of years and that’s will be in the future.
And what has Ned Kelly said after Saturday at Ashton Gate?
We’ve got work to do. I think everybody would agree we’ve got work to do. You don’t come into a football club normally without having work to do. We know that, we know we’ve work to do. Is it three wins in 14 matches? That tells you we’ve got work to do. I’m very confident in the direction of the club, I’m very confident with the future, I’m very confident with the squad that we’ve got and I’m very confident, over the period of time, that we’ll get to where we want to go. Especially for the fans of Nottingham Forest.
You’ve talked about [the chairman’s] ambition, his expectations. Does that mean you can’t rest on your laurels, you’ve got to get results quickly? Do you feel that pressure yourself?
That’s what it is for a manager. I’ve known that from the very first day I stepped into Forest, even way back then. I had a different squad, I had younger players, it was sitting in the bottom three or four, or whatever it was. But even back then we needed to win matches, it’s the same again now. Quite simple, we need to win matches. But also we’re realistic to know that we’ve got to pick up the confidence up the confidence of the players, we’ve got to get organised, we’ve got to get disciplined, we’ve got to set down demands and situations where everyone knows what they’re doing. And we’ll try and do that to the best of our ability. But I’m under no illusions, I know what’s needed to be done here. I know why we’re here.
The prize of the Premier League — for everybody in the Championship — is getting bigger all the time. I’ve seen estimates, today even, that suggest it could be worth £100-120 million, because of the increased parachute payments next year. You’ve got to get up quickly haven’t you?
Well, I think if you look at the league, the contribution of all the clubs in this division. There’s a big effort to try and get to that prize and we see ourselves as a club that would like to get there. We see ourselves as a club that will try to compete at the top end, and try and do what we can to get to that, if you like, golden prize. But we’re not fooled — the competition is fierce, the investment is hefty and we’ll do all we can to try and compete at that level.
You mentioned unfinished business for Billy Davies and Nottingham Forest. Is there unfinished business for Billy Davies in the Premier League because of your experiences there with Derby?
All I can do is do what I’ve done. As I’ve said before, at the last three clubs I’m very proud of reaching the play-offs with every club. I’m very proud of the condition we found them in and the condition which we left. So I’m proud of the staff and everyone’s contribution to that. I certainly — and the chairman knows this — I am very ambitious to try and manage at the highest level. But all we can do is try and do the same again, try and galvanise the squad, try and get people together and try and work off that same page.
Natalie Jackson, BBC East Midlands Today:
What have you said to the players this morning? And how was your first training session?
It was very good. We’ve got a great bunch. We obviously had a meeting and we chatted about a few things. The players need to know what this manager’s expectation is, what the owner’s expectation is. They know that the chairman is here for a reason and that reason is quite simple — he wants the best from the manager, the staff and the players. All I asked them for this morning is ‘give me your best, give this club your best and give these fans your best’. And if we can get that then, you never know with a little bit of luck.
Did you tell them they have to get promotion this season?
No, we never mentioned that. What I said to them this morning was this ‘ look to the next game and no further’. Try and win that next game and between now and the end of the season we’ll try and do that in every game that we play. I’ve got to say that there’s no pressure from the chairman with regards to the expectation of Billy Davies and what we’ve got to try and do, and the staff and the players. We know ourselves that the target here, over a period of time, is to try and finish the business that we started the last time we were at Forest. But with regards to the players, they know the situation — they’re very well paid, they’re very well looked after by this football club and now we have got to be accounted for every start of every play.
Do you have a ‘thank you’ to the fans because some people are saying it’s fan power that’s brought you back here?
I’ve always said that I very much appreciated their support when I was here the last time. They’ve been fantastic during my time here. But they’re no different from any other supporter — they pay their money, they’re allowed to get frustrated, they’re allowed to get angry, they’re allowed to shout at the manager and the players when things don’t go right. That’s what a football supporter is all about. The last time they appreciated the effort that was put in and I’m sure they would say they appreciated the turnaround in the football club. With their support again towards these players, I’m hoping we can do one better.
Phil Barnett, Press Association:
Do you know Sean and Alex at all? Have you spoken to them recently?
I know both of them, yes. I would not phone any manager because I don’t know their private conversation, I don’t know the private dealings of what was going on — quite simply, it’s none of my business.
Was it a no-brainer to come back? Or did you go away and think about it?
Over the last 20 months or so I’ve had conversations with clubs, I’ve had offers. It was important for the right one to fit and tick the boxes. And I’ve got to say that having spoken to Fawaz and the board, and listened to the energy of the man and enthusiasm of the man. And what he’s trying to do, this is a no-brainer to me. As I said before, he knows that I’ve got unfinished business, he knows that I want to carry on with the agreement that I had with the last chairman and carry on that job and try and take this club that one step further.
Is it just a case of bringing that extra 20% out of them? Or have you identified other areas?
Well we know there’s work to do. I think everyone can see that, there’s work to do. There’s been a lot of changes for whatever reason that is that’s, as I said, none of my business. But there’s work to do, we know we’ve got to work really hard on the training ground. We know we’ve got to try and improve each and every single player by 15-20%. And we know we’ve got to get on the same page. If we can do that, then we’ll see what happens.
Maybe stability and a bit of confidence?
Certainly confidence. I think that’s the key because the ability’s there. And the talent is there. And you look at this squad of players and you know we’ve got a great squad. But we’ve now got to understand how to win in the Championship, what it takes to win in the Championship. And we know it’s a very difficult league, every team will be tough, every game will be tough. But it’s a challenge we look forward to.
Wherever you’ve been, you’ve managed to galvanise the squad — there have been suggestions that maybe that hasn’t happened here at Forest, of late. Did you see signs of that this morning?
You can see players that are asking for guidance. They’re asking for support and help, they’re asking for the disciplines to be put in place. They know the demands, the demands will be there. This football club is a demand. It’s got a very high expectation level from its supporters, and quite rightly so. We know what we’ve got to deal with. As I said to them this morning, ‘have a look at the badge. Look where the badge has been in the past. And then you can see why the supporters demand what they demand. Because this is a top class football club that has been to the very highs of world football. And hopefully, over a long period of time, we can take it back to a level it deserves to play in.
Because of all the changes they’re not quite sure where they are and what their role is? Is that what you’ve found?
What they’ve got to do now is obviously trust in the information we’re trying to give them. Believe in the information we’re trying to give them. Get on the same page as where we are. And understand the type of club that you’re playing for, and the type of fanbase that it’s got. And more importantly, understand the chairman and the board’s expectation and ambition to move the club forward.
You can view the whole press conference on YouTube: