Things that are worrying me..

There’s been a few things playing on my mind as a Forest fan recently that I’ve decided to just brain-dump here and see what my fellow fans are thinking and feeling too..  apologies for the necessarily self-indulgent nature of this post – but here are a few things playing on my mind at the moment and causing me to worry a bit…

Billy’s rant..
I don’t allow myself to be drawn into taking sides, I try to look at facts – unfortunately, we aren’t privy to many of those.  However, Billy kicking off in the local media repeatedly, often contradicting himself and – when grilled – bottling out of his initial desire for conflict gets a bit repetitive and a bit boring, for me.

If I apply logic to it then he is either supremely confident in his relationship with his employers, or he is angling for them to terminate his employment and move on.  A pity, as like most other Forest fans I’ve a lot of time for the wee fella – but that doesn’t make his willfully vague and profoundly unprofessional outbursts anything other than a little galling.

Of course, there are plenty of muck-spreaders out there who claim to be privy to all manner of the workings at our club, but more often than not it is simply a case of a lot of hot air garnered from listening to one or two rumour mongers who should really know better.  I – like most of us – have no idea how our transfer acquisition panel operates.  I know there’s something wrong with it!

Billy himself claimed to have recommended 60 odd players at his last ‘Evening with’, others claim Billy habitually rejects players he didn’t want – his recent outburst saw him claim Bertrand was nothing more than an act of desperation – firstly, great man-management there, Bill.  Secondly, players of his calibre are fine by me – so resort to desperation more often!

Because I don’t let myself get drawn to either ‘side’ as many do it makes it very difficult to rationalise this obvious unrest behind the scenes at the club.  As a natural conflict-avoider it’s very jarring – and the information vacuum is filled with nothing more than people desperate to appear ‘in the know’ or mischief-making Derby fans… annoying!

Of course, the January transfer window looms large and this is where I think this situation will come to a head.  Mind you, I thought the same in the summer as it became increasingly apparent that it was going to prove a disappointing time in which we really should have been signing players.  Is anyone else struggling with this, or are people generally choosing a side in the Billy vs the Board battle?

Most of all I’m worried about the fact I don’t really know whether or not I have anything to worry about.  Having read that sentence back I’m also worried that I might be losing some of my mental faculties!

Ultimately Billy needs to quit excuse-making.  I have some sympathy with the constraints he works within, but no idea how much of those constraints are self-imposed.  Either way, he has a squad – and I’m not entirely convinced he gets the best out of what he already has.  Other managers in our league would love our squad, some of who are already higher than us in the league…

Players out of contract..
Whilst it’s great news that Chris Gunter has extended his contract (by a mere year), it’s clear after the initial “Oh, good!” moment that this was simply a built-in opportunity from his existing contract.  Great that he wants to enact it, but hardly the most pressing of our contract concerns when you think about it.

Robbie Earnshaw’s contract has at least been mentioned by him in the press – and hopefully discussions are going on to get the striker signed up to a longer term deal.  Whilst it’s been a tricky season for him with injury problems, he’s a key player in our squad and a real talent at this level.

So it’s great we’ve heard about these two – now what about some of the other players out of contract in the summer.  Kelvin Wilson, openly courted by Celtic in the summer, hasn’t been mentioned in terms of contracts.  He’s 25, in January he can talk to other clubs, and we won’t see a penny for him if he chooses to go elsewhere.

Lewis McGugan, the man of the moment – the man without whose dramatic return to first team prominence we would be in the relegation zone on the same points as Palace – is out of contract in the summer.  He’s been obviously unhappy for some time before his recent renaissance – so probably has half an eye on a move away in January.

In Lewis’ case he is still young enough to command compensation should he elect to go on a free, but we’ve seen how these panels take the piss with regard to valuations of young players.  I would be amazed if his goals haven’t caught the eye of Championship and maybe even Premier League teams alike – sad to say, I’ll be surprised if he’s still with us come February.

Combine a poor transfer window in terms of incomings with losing these two potentially and we’re looking at something of a disaster.  Should that happen it might well focus the mind sufficiently to start kicking off at something specific rather than being the perpetual fence-sitter that I seem to find myself operating as.

Fellow fans..
It is very difficult to judge from a snapshot of grumblings at the ground, or the odd browse around Internet forums or Facebook pages – but, and I’m not sure how else to describe this, we do seem to have a bunch of over-reactionary (in words at least, if not deeds) people operating purely on a near-religious belief of nothing more than rumours.

As with any group of people that size there are polarity positions and every shade of grey in between – but the ferocity of opinions I read (and of course, everyone is entitled to an opinion) being expressed based on nothing more than the flimsiest of rumours and hearsay is staggering.  This is my favourite recent example from the Billy Davies fan page on Facebook, a veritable den of bile and ill-thought-out rants.

David Pleat is a favourite target for vitriol – people will forcefully state he’s paid too much, he meddles too much and basically everything that goes wrong is his fault.  The small problem being they don’t know how much he is paid, how he operates nor – indeed – what his actual role is.  It’s fair game to criticise the powers-that-be for not making this clear (wages aside perhaps).

It beggars belief, and I get frustrated as being part of the same pool of people who gets constantly exposed to this either online or – increasingly – in the stands.  Mercifully it’s proven pretty limited in the comments I attract from readers – which helps to keep me a bit more sane!  Or maybe it’s just me… I’m not sure…

To conclude..
I’m not sure how to conclude really, but more than things on the pitch things like these spoil my enjoyment of Forest and make me increasingly question why I spend so much time and money following the Reds (and writing about them!).  It’s not about on-the-pitch stuff, I endured our time in League One with good grace and actually perversely enjoyed a lot of it!

It’s the uncertainty and unprofessionalism that irks me – it’s the utter lack of clarity of where things might be awry higher up in the club, and – given that information vacuum – it’s the ready willingness of my fellow fans to either fill it with vacuous nonsense, or believe the vacuous nonsense of others so readily…

Of course, I’m not quite ready to retire my season ticket just yet – but I’m finding the more ‘optional’ element of away games increasingly tempting to miss – which is a pity.  And so ends my brain-dump, I’d be fascinated to hear where fellow fans are at on these things – because as ever with football fans on the internet I’m not sure it’s majority voices that come to prominence, just the loudest.. (self-included, possibly!).

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24 Responses

  1. Good comment my friend. You also have to wonder why there seems to be little or no motivation of the team to win !! Seems from a spectators point of view they are playing to orders which holds back flair ,as we know McGuigan has never taken notice of orders which is why he stands out so much.

  2. NFFC I agree with everything you say on here. I’d like to think that my comment on your Watford match report actually inspired you to write this Blog. (LOL)

    Anyhow, we are in situation as fans that we are frustrated by a lack of activity in the transfer window (Jan 2010 and Summer 2010) which we all feel has had a negative effect on our chances at competing at the top-end of the league this season. I get the feeling that the Manager (and maybe his staff) feel this way too – Bill just needs to keep his mouth shut!

    With regards to your final comment on away games, I have only recently said to my mate that I’d rather continue going to home games as we tend to win and play good football – away from home you spend more money, travel further and Forest usually lose/draw. No contest really during the current economic climate!

  3. What’s concerning me is that Davies’s reign at this club seems to have entered a second era. Era one – saved the club from relegation, built a good side (with money) and got into position for an amazing promotion.

    Era 2 (The post Shorey era) has ben characterised by toxic relations with the board, bitching, unrealistic targets, a decline in results and performances and players looking low on confidence and unwanted. Billy has demotivated the side.

    While Bily built a lot of support in era one, I think no one can deny that he’s not managed the club well since January. He talks of stellar signings, and financial constaints. I am afraid that stellar signings won’t happen on our budget. Ready made Championship players will not be sold to us. Nicky Shorey will not come.

    Meanwhile at Derby, a certain manager has got on with his job, getting bargains from the lower leagues, veterans, loans and quietly moved in to era two on his reign. And it’s looking a lot more rosy for him…

  4. As I stated on your Watford match review, I’m rather irritated now by Billy and his post match rants.

    I am convinced now he is angling an exit stategy out of the club and all his comments will eventually put the Chairman in a postion where he has no option but to sack him. Billy, then of course, will go with his head held high (stating the Board wouldnt back him etc etc) not to mention a sizeable cheque in his back pocket.

    Now be assured I dont want to see him leave the club but I think its come to a “shut up and put situation”. As you allude, the January window will be the making or breaking of this situation.

  5. Absolutely spot on nffc. Everything I’ve been thinking, and feeling, myself over the last few weeks. I really don’t know what to believe anymore and, like you’ve said, the whole saga is spoiling my watching of Forest at the moment, which I’ve been doing for over 30 years. I’ll be there on Tuesday and Saturday but for the first time ever, I can honestly say that I’m not looking forward to back to home games. Worrying times.

  6. Dear NFFC

    I share many of your views. What I would add to it are…
    1. It is part of a good manager’s job to lobby for the resources he needs. BC did this, and used the media/ broke chairmen’s rules etc. weaker managers just accept the constraints and don’t push on. So I don’t blame billy per se. But, significantly
    a) The lobbying needs to be short and focussed at the critical time – not when it can make little difference. Billy’s comments betray an inability to keep his emotions in check which turns him into a perpetual whinger and has the opposite effect to what he intends. Less impact.
    b) The style he does it began as a deft way of taking the pressure off a young team in second place in the league, but as time has gone on it has become more of a “this lot aren’t good enough” tone which must sap the confidence and self belief of the team. Was it failure to retain/ replace shorey that caused the slide, or being repeatedly told the team wasn’t good enough? Probably both.

    2. Bill retains the confidence of the fans. Despite the histrionics, the level of drive and work rate, and the way billy mixes things tactically, show him to be a cut above the other managers we’ve had since BC. Which explains the sick feeling in the pit of my stomach when I consider the nuclear scenario of a walk out/sacking. Nobody else who would manage at this level comes close.

    3. There is, without doubt, a genuine problem to diagnose and fix. Whilst our defence is co sistently top 6, we have the 19th best attack in the league this season – only 5 teams worse and 3 of those are going down. Even that stat is flattered by mcgugans brilliance. Our 4 strikers have 6 goals between them i think. This fact seemsto be getting lost in all the politicking about transfer panels. It can be only 3 things:
    a) A lack of supply from midfield. I’m not convinced about that, although we do seem to move the ball forward slowly where a whipped in killer cross would do more damage.
    b) Right people but wrong coaching. Billy being there in the week with ned to diagnose what is going wrong and putting training plans in place to fix it are what billy is paid for.
    c) Square legs in round holes. There isn’t the genuine competition for places so dex and earnie can be complacent as Tyson, goldie and dele aren’t able to push them for places. Even loan signings (Cardiff for example) can put some spice intothe mix.
    Whichever it is, we need to quietly and calmly get on with fixing it. Because til we do, all the unbeaten runs in the world won’t get us to our aim.

    I’ve resigned myself to be dug in for another season or two in the championship, and the world hasn’t ended. Maybe it’s because I began my season ticket era missing out on promotion from league one. Things could be a LOT worse, so I am thankful for the (often) great bursts of nice football that interspersed the frustrations, and prepared to stay the course. We may not go off like a firework, but if we can keep this squad together and renew it Just enough, we might have a chance.

  7. Billy’s rants whilst being annoying and perhaps cloaked in self-interest do reflect the feelings of our support. Everyone but the board seems to know that you build your squad when you are in a position of strength; and the damage was clearly done firstly in the transfer window & then in the summer with the lack of any additions.
    However, I feel that we are missing the point by narrowing the focus on Billy Davies. I wholeheartedly agree that the present situation shows a lack of professionalism, focus and direction. However, for me these are criticisms that I would level at the club since Dave Bassett got us promoted back to the Premier League. Since then, whether it is was Van the Man going on strike, the ‘we’re serious about promotion’ debacle, the Kinnear/Platt/Megson wilderness years, our recent failings in the transfer market, the common thread is that the club has been run very, very poorly.
    Like many I’ve got a debt of gratitude to ND & I cannot bring myself to criticise a man who invests money in the club; however for the last ten years I’ve been repeatedly “scratching my head” about the goings on Trentside.
    However repetitive Billy’s rants are, he’s capable of delivering us back to the promised land, and undoubtedly he is being undermined by the amateurish goings on behind the scenes. Billy needs the Red’s just as much as we need him, to prove he has a reputation above that of being a good-but difficult to deal with-championship manager. Therefore I believe his rants, although perhaps misguided, are borne out of frustration. The club needs to be shaken out of it’s slumber & if Billy can’t do it then nobody will.
    But I suggest Red’s fans look beyond the present manager for the malaise that the club again finds itself in.

  8. Think Graham hits the nail on the head. If Billy cant get the club out of this division nobody will.. he is doing the best he can with whats put in front of him.A determined man whowants everything to be A1. In any walk of life people want to prosper and better themselves. Billy is no different. He might harp on too much but i think hes only telling it how it is. We cant have everything in the world something has got to give. We area a financially stable Championship club. If we want to become a Premiership club we have to show ambition off the pitch which we havent done, the situation is similar to when Paul Hart was in charge. Does ND really want this club in the PL or his he happy running a steady ship in the championship without the danger of overspending putting the future of the club in danger. If he wanted PL football 2 or 3 top signings in the summer would have secured a top 6 finish. As it is now we are on a level playing field with about the rest of the division. If we finish top 6 with the current squad we should celebrate what a cracking job Billy has done. Some might argue hes had enough money but the players that have been brought in were needed to make us competitive in the championship. I think the fans of the club are expecting too much of the current squad and if additions arent made and we dont finish top 6 we ought to except our lot. King Billy might keep whining about a lack of money but the Forest support keep whining about not challenging for the top spots in the division. But surely failure will point to a lack of ambition and i think Billy is only complaining about the same thing.

  9. Nottingham Forest football club is a business.

    However, it is not a business on the scale of Chelsea or Manchester United.

    That is something we have lived with for many years and must accept for the future.

    There is nothing as fans that we can do about it. The main income comes from sponsorship, not the fans. Whether we like it or not, we have to deal with it.

    Managers come and go – without us having a say.
    Players come and go, ditto.

    Fans come and go too.

    It’s only a game – lighten up folks!

    • You’re right Paddy, but many of us invest a lot of time, cash and indeed emotion into it.

      I do start to wonder why sometimes!!

  10. I don’t necessarily disagree with any of your post, NFFC, except for the bit about Bertie. I don’t think he’s all that. To my mind his ability going forward disguises that fact that he can’t defend well enough.

  11. Most of your thoughts are shared by us fans NFFC and the frustration and soul searching.I will make some points if I may.

    1 Davis is the best Manager since Cloughie
    2 Without him it was back to leage 1 Disaster
    3.He and the team have broken long standing records
    4.If he had been backed in transfer windows I believe we would be back in the premier leage.
    5.Hes a winner and super competitive and hates losing and is very passionate that boils over at times.
    6.He fights his corner if he feels hes being let down we should be glad for that.

    You spoke about FACTS all of the above are FACTS and I think he feels let down by the board thats why he rants.

    People forget Cloughie was a pain in the arse and moaned and protested at boards constantly and often clashed with his superiors.I know Davis can be a pain but i feel for him and also feel that the club are limp wristed in there approach to moving things forward.

    If we lose Davis over our lack of investment I may consider my allegiance to the current board it would be madness.

    • I’m not sure they’re all facts mate! 1 is an opinion (that a few folks I know share – I’m not so sure, still very fond of memories of Frank Clark’s Forest side), 2 is likely but not fact… 4 is your belief…

      2, 5 and 6 probably just about qualify :)

      I don’t think Davies is irreplaceable – whilst I agree he’s had poor backing I don’t think he’s getting the best out of what he has, and that’s pretty poor showing for someone who is as talented as him.

      I also don’t think he should be washing his dirty laundry in public. That said, I too would be sorry to lose him.

  12. 1. If Billy didn’t rant then there’d be even less clarity over how things are in the management of the club. We also have no idea what he says to the players behind closed doors, nor do we speak to them ourselves, so assuming certain media comments are “demotivational” is like pure guesswork.

    2. Earnshaw will be asked to take a cut and so he’ll leave if he has any fitness, if not then we’ll re-sign a player who will never play 3 games in a row again. McGugan will have clubs in his ear already and be asking, or will ask, for a wedge that he won’t get. Then he’ll leave for 300k compensation. No one will want Wilson because we’re not winning anymore and he’ll re-sign.

    3. Internet trolls are just wife beaters without a wife to beat. Facebook groups remove even more barriers to the knuckle draggers finding a forum for their nonsense. Don’t pay attention to what they say.

    To conclude…
    Apart from Anderson diving his arse off last season, the boardroom silence is also the one thing that annoys me more than anything about being a Forest fan, so I do sympathise. I’ve said on here before that I think Doughty is struggling for money, but the sale of that Irish tinning plant and a couple of other bits recently should have improved his liquid assets somewhat… maybe we’ll see something come January?

    Or course, if you don’t enjoy it any more then just don’t go. x

  13. [...] Also check out this excellent piece by NFFCBlog. [...]

  14. Yeah I have fond memories of Frank mate he did a good job but he had much better players to work with.You must agree though we were going down before Davis came in it would have been a mare to go down again.

    I agree though he is replaceable but its back to see saw time again which we dont want we want stability.But this constant friction is damaging our cause and has to stop i hope it does.

  15. before davies came we had just won away at norwich and man city…..
    We were 21st when davies took over and finished 2 places higher …..
    davies is a walking pr machine and always pisses on his own chips sooner rather than later.

  16. How is this for a conspiracy theory? (just my own)
    Mr Doughty refuses to give Billy any more money, safe in the knowledge that the wee man will eventually talk himself out of the job, and then appoints Martin O Neill and gives him the funds for a January splurge?
    Great organiser and motivator that billy is, we cannot hide the fact that 1 win in 20 away from home is appalling, tactically he is often found wanting.
    As i said, this is just me pondering what and why has it all gone so wrong?

  17. I think Red Ric nails it with his assessment of Billy’s management record. Unfortunately, people don’t like conflict and that’s just what Billy gives you. That’s what I don’t understand about Red’s fans we tolerate mediocrity, it soon became clear Colin Calderwood didn’t have the tools to succeed yet because he came across as a nice fella he was tolerated. Yet Billy’s abrasiveness & sheer desire to succeed is frowned upon… Like I said if the club begain to act to professionally, I feel the manager would temper his outbursts accordingly. The game is about opinions but it is fact that Billy took relegation fodder so close to the Premier league, & the CLUB failed to make any signings to build on this, hence the frustration!!

  18. If Billy Davies does leave for whatever reason, and I think it would be a shame, then the conspiracy theory from apwarren may have substance.
    I would really hope Martin would come back home!

  19. Dr horse – “Of course, if you don’t enjoy it any more then just don’t go”. It’s not as simple as that though is it? Just because something has become less enjoyable due to circumstances beyond your control, it doesn’t mean you don’t care and are prepared to walk away. I love my club and have followed them through thick and thin, ever since I first walked through the turnstiles in the 70′s. I think something is drastically wrong at the moment but I’m not about to quit, just because I don’t like what’s happening.

  20. See below link; maybe things are coming to a head… If they do, & I hope they don’t, & the board manage an incredible coup to bring in the intelligent Irishman & the legendary JR, then maybe I’ve got them wrong & they’re visionarys rather than cowboys… Only time will tell I suppose!

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/football/2010/nov/07/billy-davies-nottingham-forest-manager

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