Steve McClaren Was Shafted
To say that Steve McClaren's 112 day reign as manager of Nottingham Forest was unhappy and unsuccessful, would be something of an understatement - and whilst a quick glance at the Championship table lays out the grim facts and statistics in all there glory, there were mitigating circumstances to the reasons why McClaren and Forest failed to hit it off. For those with little interest in NFFC, it would appear on paper that the blame for it all lay fairly and squarely at Steve McClaren's door. The truth as they say, is a little deeper than that and he may have had a little help along the way from an unsupportive board.
The former England boss was unveiled to the national media in a blaze of publicity on June 16. He was heralded as the man who would take the club onto the next step and deliver promotion to the Premiership, according to CEO Mark Arthur at the time. McClaren at his inaugural press conference himself waxed lyrical about the history and tradition of the club and told us all how good it was to be "working with good people." How much does he regret saying that now? He couldn't possibly know how wrong he would be.
At the same time McClaren was bedding himself in, assessing his new squad and assembling his backroom staff, the board were slowly and systematically ridding what was an already depleted squad of the old has-beens, squad fillers and unfancied players, in readiness for the shiny new signings that were not only expected by the manager, they had been promised as well.
Mark Arthur wasted no time on the day of Steve McClaren`s appointment, to inform us that the chairman had backed the club and former manager Billy Davies in the previous two years to the staggering sum of £25m and that McClaren would be allowed similar funds. So we waved a fond farewell to the likes of Bennett, Wilson, McKenna, Earnshaw, Rodney, Adebola, Garner (we actually got some cash for him!) and Rodney. Coming in through the entrance doors and to take us onto promotion were Greening, Boateng, Reid, Derbyshire, Miller and.....well that was it. McClaren was under the misguided and naive belief that Nicky Maynard, Wesley Verhoek, hopefully and at long bloody last a left back and Wayne Routledge were on there way. But there was to be a sudden change of plan, or as some might say, a pulling of the rug from underneath some poor unsuspecting sap.
If Steve McClaren knew he was going to start the season with the squad he had, I don't think he'd have made 3 midfielders and 2 strikers a priority.
By the time the season got underway, the cracks were beginning to appear between manager and board. Those cracks were no surprise to many Forest fans, who had been staring at them for the past few transfer windows. McClaren`s predecessor had also seen those cracks, which eventually became gaping holes and cost him his job. After our now customary disappointing start to the campaign, a dismayed McClaren threatened to walk after only 5 games and said to the club "show me some ambition." He should have gone then, because no sign of ambition was forthcoming and if he had of gone then, the reputation he came here to try and rebuild, would have been much less tarnished than it would be a further 5 games on. Before McClaren's final game and final humiliation last Sunday against Birmingham, his mind was already made up that it was time to go. Following that 3-1 home defeat, he trudged away from the City Ground, after handing in his resignation to Nigel Doughty. The man who promised him so much, but actually delivered so little. McClaren to his credit didn't hang around to squabble over compensation. He just left. He left because the players he was attempting to bring to the club were being vetoed by the board. The goalposts had shifted long before McClaren decided his time was up.
For anyone in the game to judge McClaren's time at Forest as total failure, they would have to take into account the cards he was dealt and the fact he was mis sold the role he was employed to do at NFFC. His 10 games in charge reads won 2, drawn 2, lost 6. Goals for 10 and goals against 21. The total number of points on the table says 8 from 10 and we sit one place above the relegation zone in 21st place. That wont make for good reading when presenting his next CV, but those looking at it may want to take a few other things into account. Steve McClaren was shafted, of that there should be no doubt. So thanks for giving it a go Mr. McClaren, but you never really stood a bloody chance.