The dismissal of Mark Warburton has split opinion amongst fans, but it doesn’t escape the fact that Nottingham Forest are still in a mess — and progress, by nature, is boring
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It’s boring isn’t it? Progress. Starting something and only getting better at it slowly… Learning a language. Playing an instrument. Getting fit. Starting a diet. Beginning a new job.
I mean, we’d all love a quick fix. A magic formula. But we all know anything that comes easily is easily lost. You can probably learn French in a day. But you know in your heart you’ll come quickly unstuck when you’re not discussing baguettes, brie and biere.
Except when it comes to football, that kind of sense goes out of the window. Now we’re not sure whether Evangelos Marinakis is keen on rebuilding or immediate success — or indeed both. The dismissal of Mark Warburton makes sense on some levels — the form, the goals conceded, the losses and the rigid Plan A — but if the aim was the play-offs all along then… well.
There’s no doubt it’s a reasonable target — as, no doubt, 23 other Championship clubs would think — it’s just that we only avoided relegation on the last day of the season. On goal difference. The club was in ‘intensive care’ in the summer. Warburton was ‘the perfect fit’. What changed?
Anyway, let’s remember who got us into this mess. And who is no longer making those decisions. It’s important not to lump the sacking of Warburton into the same realm of Fawaz’s mistakes. The club is in far, far better shape than it’s been for years.
What is important to understand is what we are. Whether you agreed with Warburton’s P45 or not, most fans can agree on the ethos — attractive, attacking football, bringing through Academy players, smart transfers…
But that attractive, attacking football takes time. Warburton encouraged risk taking, he encouraged players to make the ‘right decisions’… we will concede goals this way. Until we get it right. And we will concede goals playing young players. But they will learn from their mistakes, and grow together. These things take time. And the next managerial appointment should be carefully considered — and given our full support, no matter any misgivings.
Undoubtedly there is still much work to be done with this mish-mash of a squad — we need a backbone: a goalkeeper, a centreback, a leader in midfield and a striker. Maybe we have one or more of these players already, maybe they will arrive in this transfer window or in the summer.
None of these things can be solved quickly. At least not if we want to build something for the future. We didn’t concede many goals with Dougie. But people didn’t like that kind of football. We saw glimpses of what Warburton was capable of… but what next? Do we stay in this cycle of not seeing things through? Never giving a manager a full season? Never letting them have the opportunity of a few transfer windows to bring in their ideal players and impose their vision on the squad.
Many would take promotion at any cost. Who can blame them? We’ve had almost two decades in the wilderness… Maybe there is a manager who can make it happen in the timeframe he’s allowed. But it’s impossible to compare us to other clubs; it’s impossible to say ‘look at Wolves or Crystal Palace or Burnley or Brighton’. We can but attempt to emulate them but we are our own mess and it’s going to take years to fix.
As I said. These things take time. In the words of the chairman: ‘It is rare in life for anything of value to come easily.’ Lest we forget, progress is boring.