After the damage caused during Billy Davies’ reign at Nottingham Forest, it’s important owner Fawaz Al Hasawi brings in some experienced football people and establishes a new structure to take the club forward
There was a point yesterday when it seemed the transition from Billy Davies to Neil Warnock would be a smooth process.
Reporters had clearly been briefed from the Warnock camp that he would be an interim appointment, bringing with him Keith Curle and Ronnie Jepson as his assistants. Lee Peltier even arrived on loan from Leeds United; Warnock’s captain from his Elland Road days.
Give an experienced manager, with seven promotions on his CV, the remaining nine games (or 12?) and let’s see where we are in May.
Except this is Nottingham Forest. And it’s never that easy. Right?
Warnock quickly distanced himself from the job after discussions with Fawaz Al Hasawi, saying he wasn’t “right” for the job. Worryingly, his comments on Alan Brazil’s TalkSport radio show this morning echoed the concerns we heard from Mick McCarthy in July 2012.
Warnock said: “The talks started well but, in my eyes, it deteriorated,” he said. “In the end, I didn’t think I was the right one.
“I am sure someone like [Gianfranco] Zola, who will come in and just coach the team, will end up there.
“When you have got experience you have got to do it how you do it and I didn’t see that there.
“I wanted a clear road ahead to do what I wanted. I talked early doors about getting players in. I actually recommended Lee Peltier, who they took on board yesterday, but when he knew I wasn’t going he cancelled it and he is going off to Bolton now.
“In the end it just didn’t add up to me. I thought I’d be doing it for the wrong reasons.”
In an interview with BBC East Midlands Today yesterday Fawaz said: “We spent lots of money this season, we expect to be top of the league.” Well, it’s one thing if that’s an excuse for sacking Davies. If it actually reflects a belief that spending millions will result in promotion then we could end up going round in circles.
And while he’s been saying all the right things recently — a concerted PR effort that’s paying off in the aftermath of Davies’ abrasiveness — words need to be followed by actions.
Stuart Pearce and Gianfranco Zola are the latest names to be linked with the manager’s job while Warnock has expressed an interest this morning on BBC Radio Nottingham in becoming director of football if the position was available.
Warnock said: “I do believe that whoever they appoint long term, they will have to have a director of football/chief executive – somebody on the football side rather than the rules and regulations side.
“A club as big as that, I don’t think it can be run along the lines it is being run at the moment and have long-term success. It has to have a bit more experience and knowledge of the English game inside the club.”
Maybe a more continental structure would suit, with Zola, used to dealing with the Pozzos at Watford, operating as a head coach under a permanent DoF?
It’s clear prior to and during Davies’ time at the City Ground that key positions in the club were removed and never replaced — there’s no chief executive, financial director, head of recruitment, football administrator…
The club needs rebuilding following the mess that Davies left behind and, while Fawaz is more than entitled to his say — having invested huge amounts of money — assistance is now required by people with experience in the game. Bridges need to be reconstructed after being burnt — with other clubs, the Football Association and the Football League — and the very definition of the type of club we are to become needs to be addressed.
If no appointment is to be made on an interim basis, maybe it’s best that Gary Brazil continues as caretaker manager until the end of the season (although sacking Rob Kelly now looks shortsighted). And crucially, as soon as Fawaz brings in a CEO, a new structure is established and staff are brought in for the areas we are lacking.
Now is a time for patience. But it’s also a time for vision. It’s time for a plan. We can’t keep going through managers as we have done recently. Davies was not the right man to take us forward but the goal is not simply promotion; the goal is reaching the Premier League and staying there. And to do that we need the right structure in place first, otherwise we will continue to face the same problems again and again.