With the departure of both Garath McCleary and Sean O’Driscoll this week — and a potential farewell to Chris Gunter — it’s time for wholesale changes at Nottingham Forest.
We all knew it would be a summer of upheaval and it’s quickly becoming clear the uphill task that lies ahead. With the club’s future still uncertain it’s little wonder that key personnel are on their way out the door.
More importantly, as Swansea open the bidding for Chris Gunter – with Norwich also believed to be interested – it’s vital that the club extract maximum value for a player who is arguably the most valuable asset of the squad. While nobody will be happy to see him leave, without any new owners on the scene he represents the best chance of accumulating a transfer kitty – however small it may be.
Of course there’s no certainty how much would be available for transfers let alone wages in this new age of austerity. But if Steve Cotterill must rebuild the squad he needs time to assemble a first team as well as a back room staff.
The loss of O’Driscoll is significant. His arrival coincided not just with our turnaround in results but our dramatic improvement in performance. Players clearly responded to his methods on the training ground and the general level of surprise in football that he’s taken the Crawley job indicates how highly respected he is in the game.
Presumably we can expect Stuart Gray to join Cotterill at the City Ground having left Portsmouth. And questions must remain over the existing team brought in by Steve McClaren – notably Rob Kelly and Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink.
Andy Reid is the only player signed by McClaren – recommended by chief scout Keith Burt to both Billy Davies and McClaren – to have impressed. But the reputations of Jonathan Greening, Matt Derbyshire and Ishmael Miller all suggest they must have something to offer and having suffered injuries all three will hope to be fighting fit come the start of the season.
With the likes of Marlon Harewood, George Boateng and Paul Smith all out of contract we can expect to have seen their last days on Trentside while question marks remain over Luke Chambers and Paul Anderson – both out of contract without an offer on the table. We await news of Joel Lynch’s future following his call-up to the Wales squad.
To be fair to Cotterill, he lived up to his wheeler-dealer reputation in January and he’s going to have his work cut out this summer. Can we expect established or promising loan players; bargain lower league or free transfers; and how many of the Academy players can step up?
It’s a given that Kieron Freeman and Jamaal Lascelles should make the squad — if we can hang on to them — and the likes of David Morgan, Ben Osborn and Dimitar Evtimov can’t be too far off. And the addition of Gary Brazil to the Academy coaching staff can only help their development.
Disregarding the question of ownership, the Independent identified our model for the future back in February – Derby County. It’s not something anybody wants to hear but it’s going to take a couple of years to get out of this mess — Financial Fair Play dictates that even a rich owner can’t solve all of our problems.
The wage bill needs to be reduced drastically which suggests that, even with funds for signings, the likes of Nicky Shorey and Adlene Guedioura won’t be arriving unless they accept a significant drop in their salary.
The next few months should bring more clarity but it’s going to be a significantly different Forest team lining up next season with only Camp, McGugan, Reid, Majewski and Blackstock likely to remain from last season’s final game against Portsmouth.