‘Let him build a legacy.’ ‘He’s only just beginning to embed his ideas.’ ‘Give him till the end of the season.’ ‘He needs time.’
Time. The issue that has split opinion among Forest fans since the early days of the tenure of current owner Fawaz Al-Hasawi.
Back in 2012, in the third day of his ownership, incumbent manager Steve Cotterill was told he would not continue under the new setup. His replacement, found in the form of Sean O’Driscoll, provided a significant turnaround in the team’s fortunes.
When he oversaw a 4-2 victory against Leeds on Boxing Day, Al-Hasawi had seen his new manager improve on the win rate of his predecessor by 7 per cent. With the team firmly in a promotion battle, you could say it was a surprise to see him sacked that day.
“For once Forest didn’t look look as though they might concede at any minute.”
Fawaz’s lack of experience in English football might have been the source of this impatience. The Kuwaiti had seen his former club, Qadsia SC, totally dominate the Kuwaiti Premier League.
He seemed to expect promotion from the Championship to be similarly straightforward when he declared that the club would be “looking to bring in an ambitious manager with Premier League experience”. After four further sackings, the general opinion is that Fawaz doesn’t give his managers enough time to prove what they can do.
This has only been so in O’Driscoll’s case however. Alex McLeish decided to leave the club after disagreements on how to take it forward. Billy Davies was dismissed under a dark cloud of accusations from media blackouts to excessive transfer targets (Javier Hernandez on loan?!).
Whilst many fans think legendary former player Stuart Pearce would have eventually seen a turnaround in results, the decision to sack him after two wins in twelve was hardly unusual for a chairman to make. Finally, whilst it still seemed unfair, the dismissal of Dougie Freedman came after he had taken charge of the team fifty-seven times.
Yet the sheer number of sackings has led people to believe that managers don’t get enough time at Forest. So much so that now the sentiment of some fans towards the current manager is excessively patient.
“It seems that even the chairman’s time at the club is nearing an end.”
At the last home game against QPR, a banner in the Lower Bridgford end was raised reading ‘We stand with Montanier’. Bear in mind that these are the same fans that had very recently seen their team helplessly hand Blackburn their third win of the season, let alone watch them fail to keep a clean sheet in EIGHTEEN games across all competitions.
— Nottingham Forest FC (@NFFC) November 17, 2016
Managers lose their jobs at Forest because their results don’t satisfy the chairman, or if they come to a disagreement on some other issue, not because he did not give them long enough to impress him.
“The injury-prone striker will need to stay fit in order to score the goals Forest need to drag themselves up the Sky Bet EFL Championship league table.”
At the Madejski Stadium against Reading, Montanier trialled a new system of three at the back. Whilst it was unable to stop an impressive Reading side from securing their eight win of the season, for once Forest didn’t look look as though they might concede at any minute.
Another positive to be taken is the much needed return of Ben Osborn to the centre of the park. Despite having been solid and consistent at left wing, the academy graduate is always at his most impressive when playing at centre forward or as an attacking midfielder.
In addition, the predatory instincts of Britt Assombalonga have been on display since his return to fitness, especially in their most recent game against Ipswich Town this weekend, where he scored a brace. The injury-prone striker will need to stay fit in order to score the goals Forest need to drag themselves up the Sky Bet EFL Championship league table.
Any turnaround in performances is likely to prove futile for Montanier though. It seems that even the chairman’s time at the club is nearing an end. With the takeover by American’s John Moores and Charles Noell reportedly imminent, we might soon find ourselves remembering Montanier in the same way as Steve Cotterill.
Image courtesy of The Stadium Guide via flickr.com
Video courtesy of youtube.com