I need to spend a little bit of time working through the events of the last few days at Nottingham Forest. Just now I feel in a very low place when it comes to football and my club but I want to resolve a few things, both for myself and for the people who have graciously spent time reading this blog, about why that is.
Many will not agree with what I set down here and that is fine, I am not suggesting that my way is best, it is simply the way I feel and my response to what has happened. I am not doing this to offend or to cause argument merely to explain.
The first thing that I need to be clear on is that this is not about Alex McLeish. In fact it is not personal about anyone, except me. There are aspects of McLeish’s career to date that do make me nervous about him taking charge of my club but I wish him well and hope that the anger that has been shown towards him by some fans will have subsided by the time he takes to the dugout.
For me this is not about individuals it is about the type of football club that I want to support and the type of game that I want to be a part of. As the saying goes I will be “Forest ‘till I die” because I am so closely bound to my club that it will always be exactly that, but I will not blindly turn up no matter how it behaves.
When the Al-Hasawi’s arrived they set out an attractive vision of building a club for the long term and appointed a manager in Sean O’Driscoll who fitted both that vision and what I believe to be the intrinsic nature of this club. In time I believe that he would have built something special that he could pass to the next man with pride, laying foundations that would have gone on to serve the club well beyond his own time here.
As a result even when performances have stuttered I have remained confident in what O’Driscoll was trying to achieve and happy to support him in that, giving him time to get things right and re-build Forest from what was a terrible starting point only 5 months ago.
The owners felt differently and after such a brief time have ripped up Plan A and replaced it with a promotion or bust short term goal, ditching O’Driscoll and bringing in a new man they think can deliver instant results. Some see it as a welcome ruthlessness and ambition that matches their own short term desire for a Premier League place but for me it is a sad turn of events that has driven a wedge between this Forest and me.
It may be that the owners feel if they can get into the money league they will then have access to greater funds that can then be funneled into long term development. Alternatively they may simply have decided that English football is a money pit and they want a quick return on their purchase. At this stage we simply do not know.
If it is the former then they will probably find that sustaining Premier League football will quickly overtake any developmental efforts and extra revenues will be soaked up by extra wages and fees. If the latter then this latest disruption could well be nothing compared to what might lay ahead.
Right now, however, it has made me question whether I want to be a part of something that is so lacking in roots, that can make such a fundamental shift in the way it behaves in such a short space of time and which appears to be aligning itself with everything that I find unpalatable about the modern game.
I admit that I am a romantic when it comes to football. I am uncomfortable with the amount of money in the game and with the way that money directs behaviour; that it is okay to act despicably as long as you are winning football matches and that human values are subordinate to points in the league table.
The treatment of Sean O’Driscoll and the unnerving haste with which he and the club’s apparent strategy were jettisoned marks Forest, in its current form, out as part of the darkness of modern football rather than as the light it had hinted that it might have been.
I have no words of abuse for the owners, that is the last thing that I want to see, it is another side of the game that fills me with horror. I hope that they succeed and that Alex McLeish delivers the promotion that they seek, but I think that any joy from such an achievement has been lost for me in the way it will have been achieved.
If Forest are playing top flight football next season then many will feel vindicated and no doubt laugh at me with my old fashioned notions and principles and that is fine, but I hope that some of you will at least understand.
I really thought that we were going to build something special at this club that has been a part of me for my whole life and at the moment I feel let down. I have said before that although the result is everything, paradoxically it is the journey that is actually most important.
I feel that we had it right under O’Driscoll, we were focused on the goal but we knew that it would be a journey that would take us there. Now we seem to have returned to buying a lottery ticket and crossing our fingers and though I will keep my fingers crossed for all of you it simply isn’t for me.
Featured Image: Jumpers for Goalposts, Brunswick Lawns
The eastern portion of Brunswick Terrace provides a suitable backdrop with Embassy Court on the far right. The lawns separate the A259 from the beach and provide a suitable recreational area particularly in summer.