Happy birthday, Steve
Spare a thought for the hapless Steve Cotterill who wakes up on this, the morning of his 48th birthday, to find that his lasting legacy at Nottingham Forest is to introduce us to the man who has replaced him as manager.
I think Sean O’Driscoll is a very wise appointment – his records with both Bournemouth and Doncaster Rovers are impressive and while the conspiracy theorists can read what they like into the fact our supposedly super-rich new owners have hired someone known for working under tight budgets, his reputation is for getting teams playing, in his own words, ‘the kind of attractive football the City Ground deserves to see.’
Kind of like some of the stuff we played towards the end of last season, then, when we produced one or two results Forest fans wouldn’t mind seeing replicated this year.
I don’t buy entirely into the argument some bandy about that Cotterill was taking us down and O’Driscoll alone saved us – for a start, Cotterill’s loan signings were instrumental in our recovery. And much-maligned as his footballing tactics have been (including, I must admit, some light-hearted stuff along those lines from this website), the inability of our strikers to stick the ball into the net for several months was a puzzle even the greatest managerial mind might have struggled to solve.
But O’Driscoll’s cameo in the last campaign was certainly a helpful one and by all accounts the players enjoyed working under him (plus several began performing at a much higher level). The fact that he knows the club and the players (the few who are left, anyway) is going to be very useful as time’s wing’d chariot is already hurrying near as far as the new season is concerned.
O’Driscoll isn’t ‘iconic’ – the unfortunate watchword that slipped out during the Al-Hasawi press conference last weekend – but he’ll most likely enjoy a larger amount of support and belief from fans than someone like Glenn Hoddle or Sven-Göran Eriksson. Fans of Wolves and Leicester, who have respectively tried these two ‘iconic’ managers at this level, will tell you, being an icon is no help in a division that doesn’t really respect status.
I honestly feel badly for Cotterill. He was too harshly condemned by some of our supporters and ultimately didn’t do too badly last season under the very difficult circumstances. He deserves to feel better about the job he did here than I expect he does.
But our new owners have heralded a new start and that new start not only means a new manager, but thankfully it also means not repeating the mistakes of the past – we haven’t hired an ex-England manager, we haven’t hired someone with no experience at this level, we haven’t hired someone with a reputation for stirring up angst, we haven’t hired a long-ball merchant and we haven’t hired someone just because they had a tenuous playing link to the club (you can figure out who all those refer to yourself) – we’ve hired a quiet man who lets his football do the talking.
Welcome and good luck to him. Oh and apologies to Crawley Town fans! Who knows, maybe you’ll be the lucky club who gets Steve Cotterill next…