Fresh hope for Forest faithful
A Kuwaiti takeover and a new manager have given Forest fans reason to believe ahead of the new campaign…
Barnsley ｜ Birmingham ｜ Blackburn ｜ Blackpool
Bolton ｜ Brighton ｜ Bristol City ｜ Burnley
Cardiff ｜ Charlton ｜ Crystal Palace ｜ Derby
Huddersfield ｜ Hull ｜ Ipswich ｜ Leeds
Leicester ｜ Middlesbrough ｜ Millwall ｜ Nott'm Forest
Peterborough ｜ Sheff Wed ｜ Watford ｜ Wolves
Takeovers orchestrated by foreign investors tend not to engender stability but then that is usually the intention. Nottingham Forest were treading water – the decidedly murky water of the Trent. Their financial future was looking a touch uncertain, they had tragically lost their chairman during the season and had spent 2011/12 battling the threat of relegation to League One. So the arrival of the Al-Hasawi family, who took control of the club in July, was just what the doctor ordered. The Kuwaitis wasted little time in dispensing with boss Steve Cotterill, replacing him with Sean O’Driscoll, who had worked as a coach at the City Ground during the campaign.
O’Driscoll’s intimate knowledge of the playing staff, acquired during five months as part of Cotterill’s backroom set-up, has handed him a head start. And as the man appointed by the new administration, he has a foot in both camps and support from all quarters. The former Bournemouth and Doncaster chief was busy preparing Crawley for their League One campaign when the call came from Forest. And the very fact that the owners were prepared to prise him away from the Broadfield before he had even spent an afternoon in the dugout, demonstrates their faith that this is the right man for the job.
The 55-year-old may not have top-flight pedigree but he led Donny into the Championship in 2008 and had them punching above their weight in the second tier before being harshly dispensed with in 2011. The Forest post comes with an added dose of pressure but he has the backing with which to succeed.
The initial excitement which greets the arrival of fresh investment tends to soon be tempered with trepidation. Indeed, Forest fans have a case study on their doorstep of a takeover gone wrong. City rivals Notts County were left high and dry after the Munto Finance disaster at Meadow Lane in 2009. However, fans have been encouraged by the Al-Hasawi family’s early dealings – recruiting O’Driscoll and acting swiftly to replace the departed defensive trio of Joel Lynch, Luke Chambers and Chris Gunter with Danny Collins, Greg Halford and Dan Harding. Already, after a miserable 2011/12 campaign, the Reds support have felt the gloom rise, and hope – that perennially dangerous emotion – return.
Wary of expanding the first team at the expense of the youth set-up, the support would welcome some of that investment finding its way into the club’s academy to ensure a sustainable future. But they also expect new arrivals before the start of the campaign, to bolster the squad which struggled for any sort of consistency last term.
O’Driscoll has been quick to declare his intent to deliver passing football and he has the midfield around which to develop that approach. Another striker may be on the shopping list, as well as the strength in depth to mount a consistent challenge. But given the manager’s late appointment, Forest are playing catch-up to a certain extent as they seek to rebuild. The current group may take time to gel under new management but after the club’s recent stagnation, it should be worth the wait. A title bid? Perhaps not; but for now the support will accept something resembling progress.
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