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! 😆 )

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Oh my God.. they sacked Kenny!

I have no idea whether the rumours around Kenny Burns losing his job at Forest are true or not, but couldn’t resist the South Park inspired pun.  If they are true, then I suppose openly criticising your employers in the local media is questionable conduct – but it would be a real shame.  I’ve been lucky enough to meet Kenny a few times, and he’s a charming and entertaining fellow – and bona fide Forest legend to boot.

Tricky leaks?

Being a seasoned user of the internet for football-related news, gossip and rumours it’s not really surprising that as the close season period comes around we endure a flurry of (mis)information to correspond to increasingly news-hungry supporters.  I tend to only really pay attention to Forest, naturally enough, but I’m sure it’s the same for most clubs.

This season seems to have seen an exponential growth in both impatience and this clamour from Reds fans, though. Or is it just me?  I’ve a number of places I check out for hints of news, a select few people I talk to on occasions to get news – but this season seems to have been a real explosion of outlandish rumours – or, rather, outlandish rumours that seem to be being discussed more widely.

Forest are notoriously closed-shoppish when it comes to giving out information, so we are a pretty difficult club to read – which is why on the average internet message board the typical resident “in the know” member has an unimpressive-at-best hit rate in breaking (or “calling” as seems to be the term for it) new signings or news.

Why people have this desire to be that person is a bit of a mystery to me – I guess we are all inherently nosy, so by being the ‘man in the know’ gives one a certain degree of popularity and attention.  Add into the mix the increasingly ubiquitous nature of Twitter and the fact that football related people are now using it and I think we have our explanation.

Even Nigel Doughty is supposedly Tweeting now (under Twitter name @nffc37 should you care to check him out).  Every Tweet from a Forest player or staff member, or supposed target (particularly Wayne Routledge!), is scrutinised and has more meaning driven out of it than should be possible for a block of text limited to 140 characters.

Rather than join the clamour it’s kinda turned me off Forest in the close season – you’ll have noticed a singular lack of internet activity from me compared to during the season.  I can kinda understand why people want to know stuff, but I’ve always been relatively content to just wait to see what happens and what gets confirmed.

Will my life really be different if I found out – for example – that Wayne Routledge were signing for us two days before it was confirmed on the Official Site. (For those of you trying to divine hidden meanings – that really is an example, not a prophecy or a prediction – although I’d certainly welcome Wayne signing for us!).

It was probably reading Mick McCarthy’s thoughts about ‘Twitter Twits’ that started me on this track.  He’s got a point, I reckon.  Twitter has already tripped up a few people – and I imagine there’ll be more.  Whether it’s compromising transfer deals or divulging tactics or just – well – displaying the stereotypical footballer level of intelligence when having a platform that is being scrutinised by fans, I can only see it ending in tears.

The explosion in Social Media (of which, of course, my own humble efforts are a symptom) is a brilliantly powerful way of people sharing thoughts and information – but in naive hands it’s a dangerous prospect.  Hopefully as football clubs and journalists become a little more savvy and responsible it will close some of the loopholes that drive this clamour for information.

I don’t suppose that the rampant demand to get the inside scoop in football will ever change – and as long as that demand is there, there will be people willing to service that demand.  Whether that servicing is based on real information, guesswork or even brazen mischief-making is down to the collective to determine – but personally I find it really rather tiresome!

What’s worse is the Reds will be even now preparing to kick off against PSV Eindhoven for our only home pre-season friendly – and I’m stuck in a hotel on a working trip and not able to take in the match!  I’ll be keeping an eye on Twitter though, so please do Tweet updates if you have them folks!!  Apologies for the long ponderings.  Off to the bar now!

Friendlies fired…

"Wolves and Burton? You're fired!"

I’m not sure if it’s just me, well, actually, I know it’s not just me from my emails – but is anyone else completely baffled by what’s happening with pre-season friendlies?  I realise in the midst of a regime change at the club we’re likely to encounter differences in ideas about suitable opponents and suchlike, but to cancel already agreed fixtures does seem a tad drastic.

Accepting that the new arrangements broadly featuring a higher standard of opponent, the communication of who we are playing and when has been a bit misleading at best.  Please don’t take anything written in here as gospel, I’m trying to get my head around it as best I can – and would certainly welcome anything I’ve missed out or got wrong being pointed out in the comments..!

As far as I’m aware we’ve cancelled plans to play against Burton Albion and Wolverhampton Wanderers – the Wolves game in particular makes sense as I was a bit concerned about how close that was ’til the start of the season proper.  Games against Lincoln City, Northampton Town and Tottenham Hotspur (the latter in Portugal) go ahead as planned, with more glamourous ties against PSV Eindhoven and Celtic added since McClaren’s arrival.

The Celtic game has been rumoured for a while, but after Lennon let slip about it there seems to be strong indications it will go ahead – most popular dates seem to be around the same time as the Northampton game.  So we’d best hope we make some signings if we’re expecting to be able to play two friendlies in one night as we have done a few times over the last few pre-seasons.  It will be interesting to say the least to see Wilson and particularly Commons return to the City Ground with the Bhoys.

Of course, aside from pre-season friendlies the most coveted information is that to do with transfers – the news today confirmed that McClaren is keen to speak to both Earnshaw and Moussi (and indeed has flown out to speak to the Moose in France) and get them both tied up, both of which would be welcome, but of course we also crave signings and aside from confirmation that we’ve had a chat with Giles Barnes there’s been little concrete on the rumour front.

I’m not panicking just yet, but it would be nice to get a few signings in the bag to get a full pre-season of preparations under their belts… also give the pubs of Nottingham an opportunity to order in extra stock if it’s true that we will be hosting Celtic for a pre-season friendly!

… and so ends the reign of William McIntosh Davies

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.

Is McClaren the right man for the job? What do YOU think?

A simple question – it’s interesting hearing people who are prepared to post comments, many in favour of Schteve, many against.

Without reading into my own thoughts, without taking influence from other commenters – what do you think?  It will be interesting to see the differences in opinion.  I’ve chosen the question carefully, because surely promotion has to be our aim – and anything below that is no better than what Billy achieved.

You have 24 hours to answer… go!  Thank you to whoever it was who suggested I do this, I’ve had so many contacts and conversation streams via different forms of social media I’ve lost track of you!  My apologies!

It’s going to be a long lonely summer..

Billy Davies: tactician on and off the pitch..

It’s hard to ignore the rumours doing the rounds, and indeed, the deafening silence from the City Ground.  Not that I think the powers-that-be should address every bit of internet-generated tittle tattle that inevitably gushes forth come the end of the season (and that I’m now adding to), but well, it would be nice to hear something.

Whilst other clubs announce their retained and released lists at Forest fans turn to Twitter to hear of Nathan Tyson’s mysterious movements up and down the M1, to intuit all manner of things in Earnie’s decision to change his profile picture from him in a Forest shirt (whenever I’ve checked his profile before he’s generally not in a Forest shirt then, either!).

One cheeky tweet seems to have spiralled into an impressive rumour based on nothing around Billy Davies being in the frame for the West Ham job.  Whilst Wee Billy might well not be heading to the Hammers, the persistent speculation surrounding the manager and his relationship with the board does perhaps stem from something rather than pure muck-raking.

Whilst I like Billy as a manager, it’s clear the man is a self-server, and that’s not always a bad thing – he wants to achieve things.  He doesn’t necessarily burn with desire to achieve things for Forest, but if he happens to be able to reach those ambitions whilst in charge here then everyone’s a winner.  For whatever reason, there does seem to be an obstacle to that happening.

Bear in mind this is my own pondering, based on a mixture of conversations I’ve had, observations I’ve made and something approximating a scenario I’ve – well – intuited I suppose.  A theory.  I suppose I’m pouring fuel to the speculation fire, but to be honest, as much as I’ve resisted and enjoyed a bit of down time since the play-off disappointment, I can’t help but write something.

I do think that the Forest board would like to part company with Davies.  I don’t think Davies would be too sorry to part company with them, but not without his contract being paid up.  The Forest board won’t want to do that, I imagine if a club like West Ham did want to take him on and pay us compensation it would delight the board immeasurably!  I wonder if they fell for ‘the rumour’?

When Billy arrived the remit was to initially save us from relegation, and then to develop a credible Championship club with a reasonable amount of investment, but definitely built upon youth and developing players – not continuing to throw bucket-loads of cash at the squad repeatedly.  As we’ve undergone two seasons where we’ve fallen short of truly challenging for promotion, you can see a source of frustration.

It’s pretty easy to understand why Billy must want more cash to sign players, indeed, it’s even easy to see why some supporters might decree that our rich owner should get his hand in his pocket and back the manager.  It’s easy to spend other people’s money in fantasy land, isn’t it?  In my natural guise of fence-sitter I can also see the wisdom in not entrusting a pick pot of cash with the manager to do as he will with.

So if my pontificating is true, and we have a board and manager at loggerheads, then we are potentially in for a summer of discontent – and, indeed, a season of such too should there not be a parting of the ways.  With the likes of Tyson, Moussi, Adebola and Earnshaw out of contract, with Wilson already gone, with the likes of Lee Camp being linked with Premier League moves (again, seems outlandish to me), it’s difficult not to get a bit downhearted.

With the only communication coming from the club post-Swansea being positive future messages from manager and chairman alike, and of course the prices we are expected to pay for our season tickets next season (I’m quite happy with a VAT-only rise in truth), it leaves the floodgates for internet gobshites (and I include myself in that definition!) to speculate.

Hopefully we’re all going a bit stir-crazy post season and our hysterical theorising is wide of the mark – however, if the above hypothesis turns out to be near to the mark then we could be in for a frustrating time.  All the more so if my headline managed to embed the Jason Donovan song in your head as it did mine when I wrote it…

Come on Forest, speak to the fans.  How many of you have renewed your season tickets yet…?