The collapse of the takeover by John Jay Moores leaves Fawaz Al Hasawi in sole charge of Nottingham Forest — with a looming sense of dread amongst supporters. Michael Evans thinks he knows what happens next
And so we’re here again. The club struggling in the league, another manager dismissed with a light sense of gratitude and a heavy pay-off. Any chance of progression on the pitch postponed for another season, traded in for surviving at any cost.
The club hasn’t fallen into its current malaise overnight, and the chronic mismanagement of the club for almost two decades cannot be written off. However, it feels different this time. The attempted takeover by John Jay Moores felt like one last opportunity to arrest the decline overseen by Fawaz. Whilst none of us can predict how the club would’ve been run by Moores (beyond a couple of rumours), we all know how Fawaz plays this tune.
First come the apologies. The sincere pleas for fan backing, and calls for unity to help the team dig their way out of this self-created hole. Maybe this time Fawaz will again admit to mistakes on his part. His humility in recognising his mistakes, surely this time he’ll learn. He won’t make them again, he tells the local news.
And following all the right words come all the right noises. Rumours of appointing a CEO, spending time investing in the staff and structure a good Championship club needs. A decent manager’s name will crop up, someone with good experience at this level, possibly even higher. Of course, the inevitable rumours of the third-coming of Billy Davies are never too far away, but surely even Fawaz wouldn’t do that again. Surely.
Any early optimism starts to wear a little thin after a while though. The good managers we were linked with disappear. No manager wanting a fair chance at a competently run Championship club will touch us. So we end up with someone either not up to the task, or someone unaware of what a mess we are. We’ll sign a few players, some of which may look decent. Most of them though, won’t look up to the task, certainly not if promotion is the aim. The key to finding good, affordable players is an organised scouting network. Forest barely have any scouts, let alone a network.
Then, just before the transfer window closes, we’ll probably sell our best player.
As sure as night follows day, it all goes wrong. If a CEO has been appointed (and there’s no guarantee that one can be found who will work at Forest), they inevitably realise what the role entails. Which is not a lot. There’s seemingly no room for a CEO in Fawaz’s Forest. They resign. On the pitch, it’s generally worse. The results reflect the incoherent way the club is run. Managers’ flaws are increasingly exposed. For every player giving it their all, there’s another phoning it in. Fans turn on the manager. On the players. On Fawaz.
Then the whole charade repeats itself. Out goes the manager. Out go the players. Fawaz stays on. Every season, everything changes; and yet nothing does.
It is almost impossible to see the club ever going forward under Fawaz. He’s demonstrated previously that he cannot and will not change. This is before considering the uncertainty surrounding the financial health of the club. We need wholesale change and renewed investment in order simply to compete with other clubs in the Championship. Currently the only part of the club fit for purpose is the academy. A club cannot prosper whilst its direction is set by the ever-changing whim of a single man.
Maybe Fawaz will actually do it differently next time. Stick to his words. Build the club. I really hope so. Call me cynical, but I doubt it. My fear is he may do it differently this time, but not in the way anyone wants. It’s clear he wants a return on his investment much higher than the current market value of the club. If the value of the club continues to drop, where else to recoup that money but from selling players and assets?
At the time of writing this, the deal with John Jay Moores is dead. I really hope it is resurrected somehow, or some other consortium steps into the breach. Because if not, I fear for what another year in the Fawaz cycle will do to our club.