After all the gossiping, rumour mongering and endless list of names and swinging bookmakers odds, Forest have turned to Sean O’Driscoll to fill the managerial hot seat. And do you know what? I am absolutely bloody delighted about it. I’ve been sitting on my hands somewhat resisting the urge to get drawn into the stories doing the rounds, although have been remiss in not marking the departure of Chris Gunter.
Whilst we’ll never know the full story, you can’t but help have noticed that the upturn in our fortunes last season, when we stopped going games on end without scoring, when Raddy and Reidy were reintroduced to the side and we started to experiment with playing the ball on the floor – it was when Sean arrived on the scene as assistant to Steve Cotterill. Before that we were humping aimless long balls to Marlon Harewood and Marcus Tudgay.
He is an exponent of playing football in the way we like, he knows the squad and by all accounts is well liked by them – and whilst many people seem to have latched on to the one time when Abdulaziz Al-Hasawi pondered for a moment and foolishly chose the word ‘iconic’ when talking about a manager (whilst ignoring the many times both he and Fawaz have stressed a desire to have a boss with Championship experience).
All in all, this pre-season so far has proven a bit of a case of bad timing. Perhaps the likes of Garath McCleary, Chris Gunter and Luke Chambers might have reconsidered turning down contract offers had the takeover occurred more smoothly and had a manager been appointed more readily. Indeed, we could have avoided paying Crawley Town compensation for Sean had we simply retained him on the staff in the summer.
Part of that compensation agreement is to player Crawley in a friendly before next season starts – which seems fair enough!
So a big welcome, Sean. Certainly this is a different challenge to those he’s faced before – but I would hope that with us and the squad behind him, and the Al-Hasawi family backing him in the transfer market, then he can make a success of the role. I for one am genuinely pleased to see him back – anyone that can help turn things around with the massive drag factor of Cotterill in charge has to be a talented chap.
And now on to the other news – Chris Gunter departed to Reading to be reunited with Garath McCleary for a reported £2.3-2.5m. This is really disappointing, not least because he was our only remaining senior defender – and a thoroughly decent chap and excellent right back. That said, with Brendan Moloney and Kieron Freeman both experienced through loan moves in the past it’s oddly a position we do, unusually, have cover for.
I can’t really blame him for wanting to take his shot at the Premier League amidst uncertainty of ownership and management at Forest, and if he’d had his head turned then it makes sense – given our recent experiences with such things – to not have a player who wants out run their contract down and leave for nothing.
I wish him all the best in his future career – certainly not one who ever shirked in a red shirt, and I’ll miss his strange compulsion to go and slap the corner flag before each half starts. Definitely I’d hope that he’d get a decent reception from Reds fans should we encounter him again – a consistently good performer, a great appearance record and moved on for a profit. All highly unusual things to attribute to a recent Forest player.
Hopefully from now the news will be positive – we have some rebuilding to do, and in a hurry.
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