Three names in the hat for managerless Forest

by , October 12, 2011

If widespread reports are to be believed, Nottingham Forest have narrowed their search for a new manager, drawing up a final shortlist of three names: Steve Cotterill, Mark Robins and Kevin McDonald.

There can be no doubt that following one of the most successful Championship managers currently around in Billy Davies, and a former England manager in Steve McClaren, these names will be a major disappointment to many fans who still have hopes of the City Ground being a lofty footballing haven for top quality bosses.

However, things have changed at Nottingham Forest – with Financial Fair Play looming and owner Nigel Doughty stepping down as chairman and reducing his financial input to nil over a series of years, Forest must begin to cut their cloth accordingly. Vast sums will have been saved in the resignation of Steve McClaren, but these sorts of wages will no longer be paid and Forest must now look to a different future, a future with a manager capable of getting the best out of an imperfect set of players. This is a future that many other Championship clubs have had to face in recent times and it one that Forest fans should embrace rather than bemoan.

Personally, I would have liked one of football’s up-and-coming, bright young things to have been given a shot at the position at the City Ground. Perhaps the gamble of a manager without any high level experience has left Mark Arthur and Keith Burt shy of interviewing such candidates, perhaps the compensation was too great, or perhaps, unlike me, they don’t believe that such talent is out there.

For a club looking to speculate and build with a long-term vision for prosperity, Paul Tisdale would have been my first choice. Tisdale has an impeccable record, and has demonstrated a willingness to play the sort of vibrant attacking football that would appease a seriously disgruntled set of fans. Tisdale aside, Karl Robinson and Lee Clark might have offered a similarly impressive option to build a new future for the Reds. 

Steve Cotterill has recently been made favourite for the Forest role by various betting companies. Despite relative success at a financially impotent Burnley side, Cotterill has flattered to deceive at Portsmouth and brief research would lead one to the conclusion that Pompey fans may not be too upset at his departure.

There can be no doubt that Cotterill would provide the sort of budget-management that Forest are looking for in this period and perhaps would be able to drill this young side into a more organised, stronger unit. However, in his time in management Cotterill has shown little inclination for an exciting, attacking brand of football and I fear that his appointment would lead to an attritional style which would not be tolerated should results be hard to come by.

Mark Robins is an interesting candidate. Having parted company with Barnsley over a budget ‘debate’ that clearly became something a little stronger than a debate, Robins has a fairly strong CV up until that point. Having formed a successful Rotherham side in difficult times for the club, Robins went on to provide relative stability at Barnsley, a side with one of the weakest squads in the Championship. Perhaps Robins’ most positive attribute is in his footballing upbringing, having been brought up in one of the greatest footballing academies in world football and having played under the greatest manager currently managing, Sir Alex Ferguson.

Kevin McDonald is the final name on the reported shortlist for the Nottingham Forest managerial position. Having earned a remarkable degree of respect for the work that he has done at Aston Villa, McDonald could be the man to provide a synthesis between old and new at Forest, bringing together some young talent with the now-learned squad that resides at the City Ground. I am yet to hear anything other than a glowing reference from anyone associated with Villa for the man and, as such, out of the three candidates apparently on offer, McDonald is my favourite for the position. Clearly it is always a difficult issue as to whether a prolific first team or youth coach can provide similar aptitude in a managerial role, but the brilliance shown in his employment to date is enough evidence for me to hope that the club takes a gamble on this man as the next manager of Nottingham Forest.

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