With results going against Nottingham Forest and speculation about Dougie Freedman’s future, what should happen next? Andrew Brookes has seven questions that need to be considered

Whatever you think about Dougie Freedman’s position as manager of Nottingham Forest — I’d stick by him for now for what it’s worth — it’s clear that pressure is mounting on the current City Ground boss.

But before Fawaz flexes his oft-used managerial trigger finger there are a number of things he must consider. Here’s the questions I reckon he needs to get sorted first before he can make any well-informed decision of the future of Freedman.

1. Has Freedman had enough time?

The Scot has now been at the helm for 33 league and cup games — one more than Stuart Pearce. But, is this a fair period to judge him on? In a superb piece this January, Forest Boffin showed how 70% of managers promoted out of the Championship have needed more than one season to get the job done. The 2010/11 season was the last time we had one manager for the whole campaign, when Billy Davies’ side fell at the play-off hurdle for the second season in succession. Take a look around the division and you’ll see that Chris Hughton and Steve Clarke are both flourishing having been given time to overcome lacklustre performances in the last campaign. Of course, it’s true that this alone isn’t enough to keep Freedman — longevity and consistency only works with the right person at the helm — but Fawaz has to appreciate how long it takes to build a successful side.

2. What is a realistic goal for this season?

If the aim this season is to challenge for promotion then Freedman is clearly coming up short at the moment. However, with an embargo and a big rebuilding job under way, is that asking too much? Are we really better than Boro, Hull, Burnley, Derby, Brighton, Reading, Sheff Weds, Wolves, etc? Most fans didn’t really expect a top six finish going into the campaign given the challenge facing us this time around but are we more pragmatic than the eager owner? Clearly relegation is a worry — we’re currently a comfortable 7/1 to go down with Betway.com with eight clubs more likely to be in League One next season — and not something we want to contemplate (I’m shuddering at the thought of those dark days under Megson as I type that) and, in my view, it’s only if this appears to be a prospect that the axe should be wielded. Whether that is the case yet is up for debate but it’d be nice to be clear on the aim for the short-, medium- and long-term and judging Freedman on his progress towards all of those goals before making a snap judgement.

3. Who could replace Dougie?

There are plenty of out of work managers with Championship experience at the moment – such is the nature of the job at the moment. The likes of Malky Mackay and Nigel Pearson have recent promotions on their CV — as well as ‘baggage’ — while Brian McDermott took Reading up to the big time. Uwe Rosler did impressive work at Brentford while the name Nigel Clough might ring a few bells among fans. Yet Rosler and McDermott might feel reticent to jump into ‘another Leeds’ while Pearson and Mackay are tough characters who may – just like Mick McCarthy – choose to avoid working under Fawaz. Then there’s Clough. The I Believe In Miracles fairytale mood might point to outsiders thinking that it’s an ideal match but Clough Jnr, while a different man to his dad, is every bit as stubborn and may not see it that way. Would he want to work under Fawaz? Would he get the time he needs to evolve and build the squad? It’s not that clear cut that he’d say yes for me. Are we necessarily the big draw we once were for managers? Fawaz needs to accept that he – and the club by association – is developing an unhealthy reputation and means even the Neil Warnocks of this world think twice before jumping into the hotseat.

4. Does the embargo alter the situation?

This is important for Fawaz to consider. Dougie, as is well documented, has taken charge of Palace and Bolton under financial constraints and does, it seems, have his head around the complexities of the Financial Fair Play rules that the chairman’s profligacy caused us to break. Given that, barring departures, we cannot add a single player to the squad a new manager would have no wriggle room. Some will argue that a better manager might get more from the talent at his disposal – and that may be harsh but fair – but it’s clear that another boss would need to get up to speed with FFP and be prepared to work with the current crop – making the job tougher? Better the devil you know? Perhaps.

5. Do the players want change?

I know, I know – stuff the over-paid players, they should play for whoever is in charge. Perhaps so, but it’s not as straightforward as that is it? Ryan Mendes, Kyle Ebecilio and Nelson Oliveira are all loanees that Freedman has had scouted and brought in from abroad. Would a new boss know much about them? How would they – and Trotter and O’Grady – react to a change? Given the transfer troubles we couldn’t afford not to be getting the best out of the loan rangers. Performances don’t appear to show that Freedman has ‘lost the dressing room’ but, by wielding the axe, is there a danger that Fawaz ‘loses the dressing room’ and sends the message that this isn’t a stable club to play for? We’ve got a lot of ‘Dougie’s men’ in there now and little chance of changing that situation for this season.

6. What is our ‘playing style’?

In recent weeks a little bit of desperation has crept into Freedman’s selection and substitutions I fear. Before that he usually played a 4-2-3-1/4-1-4-1 formation that relied on attacking wingers and one or two of the central midfielders getting forward to support a sole central striker. He’s not as defensive as some make out but does favour caution, control in the middle and then pace and guile on the flanks. Is that how we want to play as a club? (That’s a genuine question for a debate in the long term.) The years post-Paul Hart have seen the club losing any sort of ‘identity’ in this regard. The likes of Southampton and Swansea play a certain way and look to develop youngsters and scout and recruit signings based on this. Managers too are brought in to fit the club’s ethos. It’s about time we considered that. If we want rid of Freedman do we want to recruit a manager that will build on the work he’s done or do we want to forge a new, different style? Does anyone at the club have a clue about these sorts of things – pressing, possession, counter-attack, etc? Lurching from completely different managers only serves to build up disjointed squads and hampers academy development. It has to stop.

7. What is the plan for the summer?

This is what worries me most really. If, as expected, we emerge from the embargo, what happens next? More panicky spending and silly contracts to average players? You get the impression that the Saints and Swans are already looking at targets for next season – either in case they need to replace poached talent or enhance their current team. If we truly want to avoid more Jamie Mackie and Djamel Abdoun scenarios we need to work with a manager and scouting network to identify the weaknesses in the squad and players that we may wish to purchase. This will be a longer and harder process with a new man but wouldn’t be impossible. However, once again, this means having a plan, being happy that the manager – be it Freedman or a replacement – can deliver on it for the next couple of years.

As I say, I’d stick with Dougie for now (although he didn’t help himself with those post-match comments blaming Evtimov for the Sheffield Wednesday defeat). I don’t think he’s had enough time in the circumstances, that he’s far off achieving the realistic aim for the season or that we can necessarily replace him with someone who will know the predicament we are in any better. But, still, if he is to be fired then Fawaz has to have answered all of these questions in his head first – and cannot just rush into something even worse. Whether you are a Freedman fan or not, his position is clearly not the only matter that needs to be addressed…

!function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);js.id=id;js.src=”//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js”;fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document,”script”,”twitter-wjs”);

Have something to tell us about this article?