Billy Davies left us in a far better state than he found us on the pitch, that’s undeniable – and that’s why lots of Forest fans are still struggling to come to terms with the idea that he has been sacked. He took over an ailing Championship side, struggling to adjust to a new league under beleaguered Smoulderwood, and delivered survival.
A season later and a target of consolidation saw periods of challenging for the top two spots, ultimately ending in a disappointing play-off performance over two legs against Blackpool. Last season was less emphatic, but again a play-off finish was delivered but a spirited (and unlucky) two-legged affair with Swansea again saw us fail to progress to the final.
From relegation battler to twice-play-off contender is a success story. If you follow the Davies doctrine then a lack of backing from the board caused Forest to fail to stagger over the finish line in both seasons, if you listen elsewhere you’ll hear tell of a stubborn manager who froze out players and rejected players who would have improved our impoverished-looking squad.
The truth? I have no idea. I choose instead to remember Billy for the positives – the dismantling of West Brom away in the year they went up, doing similar to Newcastle at the City Ground. Doing the double over Derby including a first ever win at Pride Park, and some genuinely exciting football after years of – let’s face it – abject shit.
As the speculation mounted in the news though it had become abundantly clear that he wasn’t able to find a way to work within the confines he’d agreed to when taking on the post of Forest manager. Certainly his relationship with the board appeared fractious from the outside, and whilst many will call for the board to step down, that isn’t going to happen any time soon.
That left only one option – and I guess that once it became apparent that a manager of the calibre of Steve McClaren was available and willing to come it might have accelerated the decision. Billy had to go in order for him and the club to progress, although I can’t help but wonder if he might have damaged his reputation in the process.
A huge thank you to Billy – we had rare moments of light under Smoulderwood, which you delivered much more consistently. Certainly he can claim to have left us in a considerably better state than when he arrived – at least on the pitch – and I for one would be happy to applaud him should he grace the opposition dugout at the City Ground in the future.
Despite feeling a little sad though, I do think it’s the best move for all concerned – and am struggling to understand the vitriol some fans seem to have for our new manager. Sure, have reservations – but it sounds like some people actually want him to fail. Which reminds me of when we appointed Billy Davies, ironically!
On a related-but-unrelated-note, but not really warranting his own piece, but Nathan Tyson was unveiled as a Derby County player. I can’t find it in myself to dislike Tys – he was a highlight over some years of dross in League One, but has never really set the Championship alight (aside from when waving a corner flag). Certainly had Forest offered him a three year deal I’d have been surprised.
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To have had the opportunity to secure himself a long term deal, probably on better wages, without uprooting his family is an understandable move. Whilst obviously I don’t wish him too much luck given his destination I don’t really bear him any malice either. He’s often spoken of wanting to be a striker rather than a winger – now he has a chance to justify that assertion.
Thanks for your efforts, Nathan.
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