Although the season is still far from over, the thoughts of many Forest fans will have turned to the next campaign, most likely in the Sky Bet Championship (providing that the reds get to that magical 52 point mark which would prevent the unlikely drop to League One).
With Gary Brazil’s contract as manager only running up until the summer, there will be considerable discussion over who will be in the dugout at NG2 for the 2017/2018 season.
Let us assess the potential candidates…
First and foremost, we must consider the current temporary manager. Brazil has got to be acknowledged as one of the favourites for the job. He has been at the City ground since 2012 in a coaching capacity and progressed to the role of Academy Manager in 2014.
The fact that so many young, talented players that have come through the Forest academy in recent years, (such as Ben Osborn, Ben Brereton, Matty Cash and Oliver Burke to name a few), has been attributed to Brazil’s excellent work. As a result, the interim boss is highly regarded by both the fans and coaching staff of Nottingham Forest.
However, his successes as a coach haven’t been replicated as a manager. Brazil’s only stint as a permanent manager was across the River Trent at Notts County, and it’s fair to say his spell there was not successful.
His tenure only lasted 3 months, with a measly win rate of 20%. This, alongside his poor recent form at Nottingham Forest, infers that managing the Reds is a step too far for Brazil and that it would be more suitable for him to return to his role in the academy, where he has enjoyed so much success.
Mark Warburton was one of the favourites for the post when Philippe Montanier lost his job on the 14th of January 2017.
Mark Warburton received national acclaim for his work at Brentford. Not only did he manage to get Brentford promoted from League 1, but he also steered the club to a play-off position in his first season in the Championship. Alongside this, Brentford received plaudits for their progressive and an entertaining brand of football.
Although critics may point to the fact that Warburton recently lost his job at Rangers, in a league which is considered to be inferior to the Championship now in terms of quality and competition, many would argue that his dismissal was unwarranted.
Rangers currently lie third in the table, which is commendable given that it is their first season back in the SPL (Scottish Premier League) since the club went into administration. Warburton’s dismissal is in part due to the unrealistic expectations that the fans hold, in expecting an immediate title challenge.
In my opinion, Mark Warburton would be a great fit for the Reds. Not only is he tried and tested at this level, which Montainer wasn’t, but the former Rangers man is also used to working on a shoestring of a budget; which he would likely have given Forest’s current financial state.
Another name which has been unsurprisingly thrown into the mix is Nigel Clough. Part of the reason for this link is due to his father Brian’s status as undoubtedly Forest’s most successful manager ever. However, sentimental reasons aside, Nigel Clough’s own achievements deserve to stand alone from his father; especially at Burton Albion.
Clough has not only got Burton, a club that was playing non-league football nine years ago, into the Championship for the first time, but is also currently leading them to survival.
He deserves plaudits for what he has achieved at a club of Albion’s size and stature. His spell as Derby County manager, albeit less fruitful, still led to him becoming Derby’s longest serving manager in a decade, and the only real blot on Nigel Clough’s CV is his ill-fated time at Sheffield United.
A factor that might also come into consideration is Clough’s playing career at the City Ground. Clough came through Forest’s Academy and went on to achieve iconic status as a player for the Reds, scoring an impressive 101 goals in 311 games.
However, despite being a fan favourite, Forest fans especially know the dangers of employing a former player, after Stuart Peace’s disappointing tenure as manager. Yet despite these reservations, Clough has a lot of experience as a manager and is a safer option than Mark Warburton.
Nonetheless, he would be managing a club that has a stand named after his father; Nigel Clough as a Forest manager would always be living in Brian’s shadow. Clough has ruled out a return to the Nottingham club at present but that’s not to say he won’t return at some point in the future…
One name which I don’t think has received suitable recognition is the Bristol Rovers manager, Darrell Clarke. Clarke took over at the Memorial Stadium during a difficult time, with financial problems leaving a dark cloud hanging over the club.
After joining the pirates midway through the 2013-2014 season, Clarke was unable to prevent the Gas’s inevitable slide into non-league football. Some fans would be forgiven for thinking this could lead to Clarke’s managerial career spiralling into obscurity.
However, Clarke bounced back from this disappointment and has led Bristol Rovers to back to back promotions, with the club currently residing comfortably in mid-table in Sky Bet League One.
Clarke has achieved this mightily impressive feat with a meagre budget, which would help him adjust with ease to the dire financial conditions at Forest. Despite Clarke’s notable successes, Forest might be a step too far this early on in his career, and the gamble might be a bad move for both sides.