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Hamstrung by their owner, Forest hope to escape disastrous season - Interview
Thursday, 27th Apr 2017 17:31 by Clive Whittingham

Jack McCormick looks back on another disastrous season for Nottingham Forest that has seen them rattle through three managers and suffer at the hands of yet another mental foreign football club owner.

How would you assess another dire season for Nottingham Forest?

JM: Where to start? Three managers, one man-child owner, two failed takeover attempts, two of our best players sold off and a relegation battle to boot. It’s not been much fun. A consummate disaster.

Three managers, Philippe Montanier first, how did he do? Why was he sacked?

JM: He started quite well, playing attacking (suicidal) football that saw us win a couple of games 4-3. It was certainly exciting. Then the goals dried up and the calamitous defending continued – we kept a single clean sheet under his stewardship and it wasn’t a surprise to see him sacked. Lovely bloke and a fan of cheese (his parents are fromagiers), just not a particularly good Championship football manager.

The Gary Brazil until the end of the season thing didn’t last long, why not?

JM: Another nice bloke and one that’s done a brilliant job in our academy – thankfully agreeing to return to that role despite being relieved of first team duties – but another that isn’t quite up to managing at this level. We had a few decent results (3-0 vs Brighton stands out) and Brazil, alongside former player and fellow academy coach Jack Lester, was doing a better job than his predecessor. But we were still embroiled in a relegation battle and needed points on the board.

Mark Warburton now, how’s that appointment been received by the fans? How’s he done so far?

JM: Very well on both counts. He wants to play ‘the Forest way’ and has managed a couple of really impressive results. Even in losses we’ve dominated, which isn’t what we need at this stage of the season but it’s a promising sign if we can stay up and add to the squad.

Can this club move anywhere other than down while the current owner is in charge?

JM: Nope – and the stats back that up. We’ve finished in a lower position every season since he took over. That’s no coincidence.

Any hope/suggestion of a takeover this summer?

JM: Yes, possibly even in the next couple of weeks. Evangelos Marinakis, a Greek who also owns Olympiakos and made his millions in the shipping industry, looked like he’d buy a stake in the club earlier in the season but had various criminal allegations hanging over him so was barred by the Football League. Sounds like the perfect owner.

He’s back in with another bid, this time to take 100% control alongside an experienced telecoms exec friend. That’s great news in that Fawaz Al Hasawi would no longer be associated with our club, but the allegation against Marinakis – which include match fixing and bombing a bakery owned by a ref who gave a decision against Olympiakos – are a little worrying. All charges have been dropped, however, and it turns out they came from the owners of rival Greek clubs jealous of Marinakis’s success. Still, it seems we’re a magnet for dodgy owners. We’ll see.

Who’s in the running for Player of the Season?

JM: According to official channels, every man and his dog. The ‘vote now’ video on YouTube is a menagerie of awful footballers not fit to pull on the shirt. You’d have thought they’d at least narrow it down to those who wouldn’t make you spit your coffee all over your keyboard.

I would imagine Ben Osborn will win it; he’s played in every match and is Mr Consistent. A very talented young midfielder who will be in the Premiership before long, most likely without us – but you’ll hear plenty of fans slagging him off on Twitter. Don’t you just love social media?

Other options would be full back Eric Lichaj (the irony of a defender potentially winning POTS in a team that’s conceded so many goals is not lost on us), teenage centre back Joe Worrall (a defender, I know), young ‘keeper Jordan Smith (spot the trend) or Ben Brereton – the striker who’s just turned 18. Watch out for him on Saturday, he will play at the highest level one day. An incredible talent that we’re lucky hasn’t been sold (yet).

Where does the team need strengthening if it stays up? Presumably Warburton has had some assurances that he’ll be able to do this?

JM: Defence is an obvious one, but generally speaking we need a bit more grit throughout the side – what’s Joey Barton up to these days? We also need strength in depth, and less of the owner-made-weird-foreign-signings-or-so-called-big-names (Bendtner) we’ve had since Al Hasawi’s been in charge. Hopefully that’ll change if he goes.

What happens if you go down?

JM: It’s unthinkable. I’ve only just got over the last time and can’t believe we’re in danger of slipping back into League 1. It’s a horrible place. We’d undoubtedly lose all our young talent, of which there’s lots – it’s about the only thing that’s kept our spirits up this season. We’d also lose the likes of Britt Assombalonga and would have a massive rebuilding job to do. I imagine we’d be down for at least a couple of years while that took place, unless the new owner could persuade our best players to stay for a season and try to take us straight back up.

On a positive note the takeover doesn’t seem to hinge on us staying in this league, and Warburton would most likely stay – someone with a track record of promotion from League 1. But I really couldn’t face watching hoof ball against the likes of Walsall again. They’re our bogey team for starters, and have you ever been to the Bescot/Banks’s Stadium? It’s rubbish.

The Twitter @loftforwords, @jack_mccormick

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TacticalR added 18:38 - Apr 27
Thanks to Jack.

Al-Hasawi seems a complete lunatic. His scheme to sell the club while guaranteeing an income for himself was so bizarre it made you wonder if he was really serious about selling. And how is it possible to have ended up with two products (Bendtner and Traoré) of Wenger's failed Young Guns project?

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