Calm Before The Storm
Lets get one thing straight, all is not rosy in the Nottingham Forest garden. Despite what looked like a cease fire & calmer waters ahead between manager and board, it looks like it may have just been the eye of the hurricane that is Billy Davies, football manager.
Our recent form has, frankly, been relegation form rather than a team battling for a playoff place. Barely 3 months ago the radio phone ins and message boards were full of bravado and gloating about how we would definitely win the league. This was only strengthened by a positive performance and win against Cardiff at the City Ground. And then.....then the wheels fell off. Now the phone ins are either blaming Doughty for lack of support or calling for Billy's head. How times change.
It may be a bit early to critique a season that hasnt ended yet, but for me it is over. Even if we do scrape the playoffs I dont believe we've got the mental strength or enough goals in the team to actually win them. On top of that, to take a note from Billys book, I dont think we are ready either. Last year we over achieved, this year our up and down form is probably a more accurate reflection of our current strength and standing. With the lack of strengthening in the summer I thought we would be mid table so I cant really moan about 7th (as it stands) but you still cant help but feel we've been cheated again.
Who is to blame then? Do we need to blame anyone or should it just be put down to experience?
My personal belief is that blame has to be spread over the entire club. Everyone from owner and his dogsbody, to the manager, to the players and even the fans need to accept a degree of culpability. The fans you ask? Why? Because every year we let ourselves get carried away when we hit a bit of form. Then when things drop the boos start to echo round the ground sooner rather than later. Im not a boo boy, Ive never booed at the ground, I much prefer to rant about it afterwards and get it off my chest. However as a fan base we need to realise that we arent Cloughies 70/80s team and that we have no divine right to be in the Premiership or beat the 'little' teams, except Derby of course! But being a football fan doesnt involve rationale or logic so nothing will change, I just wanted to point it out.
Is it Billys fault then? Has the man that took us from relegation battlers to promotion contenders in one year lost his way? I dont think his coaching or tactical abilities are at fault. I think his own personal demons are partly at fault and his pig headedness. We know he likes to push owners for cash and get the best he can to work with but, Billy, if they wont spend that kind of money then you need to get a grip and move on, not keep chasing shadows hoping somebody will change their mind. I have little time for the board at Forest but I do understand money is tight everywhere and football is no different. If anyone thinks that all is calm between manager and board then I suggest you keep thinking. How many content managers, directly before a huge game battling for a playoff place, would go on live TV and have little digs about how little has been spent at their club and how well the players they do have are coping? I believe the term is deflection, something Billy has always done. If he was Bart Simpson, his catchphrase would be 'it wasnt me'. These well timed and thinly veiled little digs are no accident. They are done when the press is there for all to see. A plea to fans to get behind the poor manager and his beleaguered players because the nasty board wont back him. You're not fooling me Billy, I know the board are unambitious cretins but you cant just constantly rock the boat and pass the buck. The only thing that will do is leave us looking for a new manager in the summer.
I am not calling for Billy to go, especially not in 7th placed, those that are will be frustrated and giving the usual knee jerk reactions. But something has to give and in my opinion it will be sooner rather than later.
So whats the boards part in all this? Well they certainly haven't spent much and the little that they have has been at the wrong time. I said in January that 3 players wasn't enough to provide adequate depth and strength for us to finish top 2. This is especially the case when one of the players, Findlay, hasn't even figured yet. The new left back is actually worse than the make shift one we already had at the club and the striker looks about as interested in playing as I am in nuclear physics. But no doubt the constant banging on Arthurs door from Billy led to the obligatory panic signings. Boyd and Konchesky between them are paid nearly 70k a week in wages! How much of this Forest are paying is unclear but it wont be insignificant and several sources have suggested that we are paying pretty much all of Boyds £30k a week packet. Thats a lot of money for another striker who cant find the net. As for Konch....well I just dont know what to say! It seems that The Acquisition Panel are failing to find the cheap up and coming players and are also failing to stop the overpaid useless ones arriving. Not exactly doing its job is it Nigel? We still haven't had a permanent, natural left back in as many seasons as I can remember. Whos fault is it though? The board refusing to spend, the scouts not working hard enough to find players or Billy's refusal to change targets from Shorey/Bertrand? Probably a mixture of all 3. Our inability to fill the positions we need most, never fails to astound me. Even when we signed 9 players one summer, most of them were strikers, there was still a lack of balance in the team. Most clubs need a player, target a player and sign him or move on. We target a player, offer peanuts, dont sign the player and then still chase him until he joins a rival club. That is frankly shambolic.
Im not going to rant and rave about the board, Ive made my feelings clear. In over 10 years we have made NO progress under Doughty on the field, we've gone from minimal/no debt, to £50million and counting owed to him as loans off it. Loans which he is paying himself interest on. Sacking the manager is not the answer every 2/3 seasons but Im pretty sure that will be the scenario again. Things need to change and if Doughty wont go he at the very least needs to replace Mark Arthur with a footballing man who is capable of running a club well. Look how Notts CCC's fortunes changed once he left them! But as Arthur is a long term friend of Doughty, I fear his friendship will cloud his judgement. I cling on to the hope that he may some how wangle a job at the F.A and we will be shot of him. Probably just a dream.
I think the summer will be interesting. The manager wants money to spend and to pass the buck to the board. The board want a manager who shows a bit of respect and a willingness to compromise. Neither of these things are in place at the moment. Neither party are happy as far as I can tell, RUMOURS of the board sounding out the likes of Chris Hughton to take over may or may not be true, but you can be sure that if we have heard the rumours then Billy will have too and that is only likely to fuel his paranoia. I also think players will leave if/when we dont go up. I think Moussi, Earnie and Tyson are going regardless but wont be surprised to see bids come in for Mcgugan and Camp. Im still gobsmacked as to why we turned money down for Wilson and then froze him out of the squad, no logic in that at all. I repeat, I think the summer will be interesting and I wont be at all surprised if there are big changes on and off the field. In fact I think they have to change for the good of the club. In-fighting at board/managerial level is no good for any business.
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