The results have been bad, the performances poor, but should we sack a manager every time we hit a sticky patch? Many of us expected more from this season, but Craig NFFC believes Stuart Pearce should be allowed at least a whole season to prove himself
We’ve been out of the Premier League for over 15 years now and during that time we’ve constantly changed the manager and had heavy investment — and neither approach has managed to get us back up to the Promised Land.
Some might argue we’ve not even come close because, despite reaching the play-offs three times, we’ve never managed to actually reach a play-off final.
We’ve had nearly every type of manager during that time and with the fan base we have, in terms of home and away support, the money spent on player fees and wages it’s amazing that we’ve not somehow forced our way up regardless of the manager at the time.
This summer we’ve spent big again and, on paper, few can argue that on paper we don’t look strong enough to win any given game. So with results and performances being so poor everyone looks at our traditional plan B — a managerial change.
MORE FOREST STORIES
Changing the manager has not worked for us during the past 15 years and the odds are that it’s no more likely to work for us now than the odds are of Pearce turning it around.
So why not just roll the dice and stick with Pearce and see if with time he can turn it around and make us a into a side that will compete all season to win promotion? Surely it’s the only thing that we’ve not actually tried isn’t it?!
Whilst it isn’t going to be clear how FFP will play out and thus the effect the transfer embargo will have on us, it may have its upsides. One potential benefit is that Pearce is going to have to rely upon what you’d think he’d be best at… man management and motivation. He was a leader on the pitch having played and captained club and country, therefore getting the Forest players to play with confidence and purpose should be Stuart Pearce’s forte.
However, if that really is his forte, it’s difficult to explain why they slumped to a one goal loss against Rochdale. And why, after every Birmingham City goal, all outfield Forest players dropped their heads and slowly and quietly marched towards their starting positions ready to take the kick-off. Not a single one was trying to get the others going again, nobody was trying to encourage their teammates to get their heads up and find the fight and courage to get back into the game.
Pearce handles the media how we’d want any Forest manager to. However, with every poor game and poor result he needs to start providing a little more than just saying that the players are lacking confidence and aren’t stepping up to the plate.
You can’t just tell a player to “be confident”, it comes from doing something well and building upon it. And if they aren’t playing well, as we aren’t, then they need to make a change to the system/style/approach in order to play in a way which nurtures small successes and builds their confidence.
That leads me onto the fact that anyone who’s seen Forest this season would agree that we’ve not really seen any particular system or style we’re trying to work to. Many of those wanting a change of manager recognise that we play direct and week-on-week change two or more players and the starting formation, which ends up with inconsistent performances and being easy to play against.
It’s feels like Pearce still hasn’t worked out which players are capable of doing what, which system we should play, what style/approach to have during games, and how to change things when it isn’t going well. Is half a season enough to work this out? Does six months of working with these players most days tell you enough to be getting better results whilst ironing out the details?
If the plan was to use this season to stabilise and experiment with one eye on the play-offs then it could be argued that there is some method to the madness. But there isn’t a consistent theme in how we’ve been playing AND the main point being that Fawaz, Pearce and the club clearly stated that the aim this year was to win promotion — potentially automatic promotion. Pearce himself stated he wanted to win the league, this was obviously when we were top. Maybe that’s everyone’s problem, we’ve been sold the wrong dream.
The biggest challenge of any club is to sell their fans a dream or the aspirations for the season. Whether it’s going for promotion or avoiding relegation, to have your club competing right up until the end of the season is worth its weight in gold in terms of entertainment and value for money. Forest have had this in spades.
I personally can’t recall a season in the last 23 or more years where we’ve not had something to go for right until the end of the season. But someone has to manage expectations and that person needs to be Pearce and for me this is where I think he has failed more than on the pitch.
Whether Fawaz would like to hear a manager play down the club’s ambitions for the season is anyone’s guess, but what is said inside the club doesn’t have to be the public message IF it helps maintain a healthy perspective and keeps everyone backing the team.
If we change manager now I think we’d likely get a turnaround in results, but over the longer term it’s just as likely that a new manager would only achieve what Pearce might eventually anyway.
Ultimately, while I think/expected us to be doing better, had we had the same results but in a different order and Pearce had not talked about winning the league, I don’t believe that we’d be complaining quite as much.
We need to keep backing him and find out how good he is over a full season at least. The embargo might be a blessing yet, a chance to try a different approach and promote players from the youth set-up — Osborn has done well so far and there’s no reason to say that others wouldn’t.