Has anything actually changed?

A bit of time to ponder is a dangerous thing – the proliferation of rumours, names and speculation has been rife since the changes at the City Ground took place.  Odds have shifted on managerial candidates, supposed meetings have taken place with potential technical director types and compensation has been apparently not agreed with certain teams over things.

The managerial appointment is obviously the most pressing and Forest had said immediately that the aim was to resolve this matter before the season restarts for us at Coventry.  A laudable aim, but of course, with the potential for a new chairman and a possible change of structure to allow a director of football or technical director role, maybe they would benefit from this new structure in place in order to select the right candidate to take over the squad.

Despite all this it’s a reflective rather than a speculative mood in which I find myself.  I’m not privy to any inside knowledge and given the myriad of options you could buy into if you read around the rumour pages (also known as internet forums) you’ll bamboozle yourself and have no idea what to think – but I do think the events that have lead us here have created a wonderful smokescreen.

As I noted before, whilst I respect any fellow fan’s right to make their feelings known I don’t think the fairly modest protesting before and after the game had much bearing on events.  Steve McClaren had widely reported (or possibly speculated) to have been on his way for some time, and that wouldn’t surprise me.  Depending on who you believe he had either not been given what he had promised, or he spunked his budget early and had hoped to get more.

Whatever – I don’t think it was something that the events of that afternoon caused, certainly the nature of the game wouldn’t have done anything to lessen his resolve to go.  The mystery of the piece is the undeniably surprising move of Nigel Doughty to step down (albeit not immediately) as chairman, and immediately in terms of taking an active role in the running of the club (with a caveat for existing financial obligations).

After his foray onto Twitter ended rather badly (ending with a Tweet to yours truly of course!), it seemed that many of those who made his stay in cyberspace unbearable turned their attentions to his children – neither of whom, of course, have anything to do with Forest at all.  Even if they did, it’s pretty shameful conduct by a minority of fans.  It would kind of make you, as a father, want to take steps to stop it.

Take steps like step down from active involvement, or at least say you are – because, you see, as far as I can tell not a great deal has changed at Forest.  Mark Arthur remains in place, we already discussed the nonsense of the David Pleat situation.  So all that has really has happened is Pleat has been moved on from a position he hadn’t held for ages, and Doughty has ‘stepped down’ from active involvement but remains our owner.

If I were cynical (okay, so I am cynical) I’d be struggling to see what changed in real terms at the City Ground aside from the manager (which, as it happens, I certainly was in agreement with).  A cunning sword-falling exercise perhaps made the wider world think that the biggest scalp of all had fallen, but I’m not entirely convinced that you can be truly hands-off when the people running the club still ask you for cash.

So what has changed?  We’ll have a new figurehead when the chairman vacancy is filled – depending on who that is (rumours range from the likes of Frank Clark (sublime) right through to Robert Kilroy-Silk (ridiculous).  Certainly something more on the former end of the spectrum would lend a football-focus to our strategy, or perhaps someone with more of a business-focus might address our need to grow revenue given the potential implications of financial fair play.

There’s been speculation of a structural change that might see some kind of technical and/or football director type role created – which, if true, would suggest a business-minded chairman.  Keith Burt being temporarily elevated might imply this direction as would Forest’s apparent courting of Paul Hart who is currently working for Charlton Athletic.

Amidst all the chatter and speculation, and with the usual lack of news aside from supposedly 40 candidates (and some truly terrifying suggestions) who’ve cast their hats into the ring (not to mention the wonderfully soap-operaish suggestion that Nigel Clough might be lured down the A52), it leaves me feeling a bit confused about how much has actually changed at the City Ground.

I can’t help but think that it’s not a lot.  Certainly talk of overthrowing the old regime doesn’t seem right – not that many have done that.  The next week or so promises to be very interesting as Forest seek to make the all important managerial appointment and presumably start to provide greater clarity on what the structure of the club will look like higher up the chain in the boardroom.

(cue ‘sisco‘ posting daily comments about how he’d like to see a certain person sacked! 😆 )

We only whispered to ourselves, and the walls came tumbling down..

Nottingham Forest – 1
Birmingham City – 3

We can make this match report quite easy, I’m short on time on my lunch-break, and have no wish to re-live the details of the match.

Before the game there was a bit of a gathering outside the ticket office, there were also a lot of people milling around as usual – so difficult to get numbers.  Chants were audible, and mixed in target (Mark Arthur, the board, Doughty etc).  The stall opposite the souvenir shop was selling Celtic scarves, and appeared to still have plenty left in stock with kick-off fast approaching.

Chambers    Morgan    Lynch    Hill
Majewski    Moussi    McGugan
Derbyshire   Tudgay   Miller 

Another strange selection – Chambers to right back, Hill at left back, Lynch as a centre-half.  Greening on the bench.  Chambers aside, it looked almost promising.  Forest were doing alright, not brilliantly, but alright.  We’d got a fortunate goal that Miller looked to be claiming but was blatantly an own goal.  We continued to control the game without excelling, we looked pretty comfortable.

Then McClaren made the changes.  Majewski – probably the better of the players on the pitch – taken off, Greening on.  Some boos from the home fans (more from the away end, owing to his West Brom associations).  Things go a bit pear-shaped.  Three preventable goals conceded.  A banner is unfurled in the Clough Upper stand – I never agree with that during a game, but why wait ’til we’re losing if you have the courage of your convictions?

Having said that, watching the banner move along the stand to evade the stewards was probably the most amusing thing about the afternoon at the City Ground.

The protest of 100-300 (depending whose description you read) fans before and after the game is a red herring for me, clearly the decision of McClaren to go was made already, and I don’t think a man like Nigel Doughty would have made a snap decision to ‘fall on his brolly’ like that either.  The fact a number of people were prepared to protest visibly and audibly is perhaps a useful wake up call to the club – red herring or not.

Interestingly the supposedly most popular ‘target’ of Forest fans demanding change – Mark Arthur – now finds himself in total charge, with a chairman who has resigned the responsibility of finding a manager now falls solely upon him.  I’m sure I’ll have more to say when the dust settles a little (and when I’m not stuck at work with limited time to post), but for now this song by New Model Army resonates strongly with me (I posted a snippet on Facebook/Twitter earlier).

Take away our history
Take away our heroes
Take away our values
And leave us here with nothing
We were in the garden of Eden
Just as children mess around
We only leant against the tree
And the apple came tumbling down 
You gave us what we asked for
But never what we wanted
We were only children
How could you have been so stupid
We went up to the steel walls
That guard the sacred town
We only whispered to ourselves
And the walls came tumbling down 
We didn't want a victory
We just wanted to fight
But you wouldn't fight
You just gave in
You went and spoiled every game
You broke an everlasting chain
And nobody respects you for your weakness 
Take away our idols
Take away our faith
Take away our hatred
And put us in this vacuum
Then say be yourself, please yourself
Express yourself some more
It's your right to do what you like
Because we can't really be bothered with you at all 
We didn't want a victory
We just wanted to fight
But you wouldn't fight
You said it isn't nice to fight
You went and spoiled every game
You broke an everlasting chain
And nobody respects you for your weakness

Where do we go from here? Who knows, but for some fans they’ve been granted what they asked for – let’s see if they like what we’re all going to get.