Nottingham Forest have parted ways with manager Chris Hughton – and Dane Murphy’s influence means a left-field appointment like Christian Ilzer can’t be ruled out.

Hughton lost his job this morning after losing 2-0 to Middlesbrough on Wednesday night.

With one point from seven games, few can really argue with Forest moving on from Hughton.

Forest are bottom of the Championship table and already in a relegation battle. The new manager will need to rejuvenate the side quickly to pick up results.

It currently looks like Steve Cooper is the favourite for the job. Yet with Dane Murphy involved in the process, who can rule out a Barnsley-esque move?

Murphy’s Barnsley approach

Forest chief executive Murphy joined from Barnsley this past summer.

The American was a key part of Barnsley’s bold approach, which involved heavy reliance on analytics and shopping in foreign markets.

That extended to managers too. When Daniel Stendel left in 2019, Barnsley took a daring approach.

They managed to lure Gerhard Struber from Wolfsberger – the Austrian side Struber had guided into the Europa League.

Struber impressed enough at Barnsley to land a move to New York Red Bulls in October of last year.

Nottingham Forest v Cardiff City - Sky Bet Championship
Nottingham Forest chief executive, Dane Murphy looking frustrated during the Sky Bet Championship match between Nottingham Forest and Cardiff City at the City Ground, Nottingham on Sunday 12th September 2021. (Photo by Jon Hobley/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Barnsley weren’t shaken from their approach. They went back to Austria again, this time raiding LASK Linz for Valerian Ismael – another Europa League boss.

Ismael was snapped up by West Brom this summer, and guess what? Barnsley went back to Austria again, securing Markus Schopp from TSV Hartberg.

 

Murphy was a key man at Barnsley for all of these appointments. Hughton wasn’t his man and doesn’t really fit the mould for what Murphy implemented at Oakwell.

Hughton was a fairly old-school English manager, whereas Murphy helped bring foreign coaches to Barnsley – so can we really rule out the same at Forest?

SK Rapid Wien v SK Puntigamer Sturm Graz - tipico Bundesliga
VIENNA, AUSTRIA – APRIL 18: (BILD ZEITUNG OUT) Christian Ilzer of Sturm Graz gestures during the tipico Bundesliga match between SK Rapid Wien and SK Puntigamer Sturm Graz at Allianz Stadion on April 18, 2021 in Vienna, Austria. (Photo by TF-Images/Getty Images)

So what about bringing Christian Ilzer to Forest?

If Murphy wants to go shopping in Austria for Forest’s next manager, then Christian Ilzer is the most impressive name.

Ilzer, 43, had spells with TSV Hartberg and Wolfsberger – two clubs Barnsley raided under Murphy.

After a stint with Austria Vienna, Ilzer is now at Sturm Graz. His work there has been sensational.

Ilzer guided Sturm Graz to a third-placed finish last season. Tonight, Ilzer takes his side into the Europa League group stage for a huge clash against Monaco.

Playing a 4-4-2 diamond, Ilzer has lost only 10 of his 47 games in charge. He’s averaging 1.94 points per game and his side have scored almost twice as many goals as they have conceded under Ilzer.

Sturm’s only defeat in the league this season came against powerhouse Red Bull Salzburg. In almost every other game, the goals have been flowing.

Tony Yeboah’s son Kelvin is on fire for Ilzer’s side, bagging six goals in seven games this term.

An exciting young manager who held steady Sturm Graz’s defence whilst bringing a smart pressing game, Ilzer is making strides.

Cooper looks likely to join Forest, and we hardly expect Forest to go for Ilzer. Yet if Murphy does push for a late change and look to Austria again, Ilzer is the man to watch.

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