These bloody foreigners…
…coming over here and taking over our football clubs.
I’d forgive Steve Cotterill if that’s what he’s thinking now. After all, for weeks he’s been reading in the Nottingham Post that the Kuwaitis weren’t buying the club and his job was safe. But 24-hours into the Al-Hasawi reign, and only nine months into his managerial stint, Steve finds himself being politely shown the door.
For many fans who have been calling, some even campaigning, for his sacking, the news will no doubt be joyous. But as someone who wrote on this site in support (admittedly quite guarded support) of Cotterill last season, how do I feel about it?
In a sense, I’m relieved. Relieved that all the petty sniping and uncalled-for personal remarks posted on forums and social sites can stop. Back in March I wrote:
It’s hard to see a long term future for Steve Cotterill at this club. He seems to have legions of detractors and the only people willing to defend him are the stoics like me who can only point to reasons not to sack him, not reasons why he should be in the job.
By the summer that hadn’t really changed. Even with our avoidance of relegation, and even with the 7-3 victory over Leeds and some other remarkable results, it was hard to look forward to Steve Cotterill leading Forest into the new season. More than anything, I couldn’t face the arguments any more. I was planning on commenting on the Al-Hasawi takeover this week and, as far as Cotterill went, all I could think to say was that a bit of stability over the next few months wouldn’t be a bad thing.
But that’s not true, is it? Before the season starts we need to sign at least three defenders and some wide attacking threat. And that’s just to get back to where we were last season. A goal-scoring forward to partner Dexter Blackstock wouldn’t go amiss either. I’m usually in favour of not rocking the boat, but with our current squad, disruption is very necessary.
Ultimately sacking Steve Cotterill is probably the right decision. It’s not a very fair decision, as I think Steve did an okay job last season. No, he wasn’t fantastic, but he was much better than some other managers who were brought in to do similar jobs in recent eras. The point is, he was hired to steer us clear of relegation under tight financial restraints. Anyone expecting him to guide us to the play-offs, Billy Davies-style, was deluding themselves. The club was left in such a mess by the Steve McClaren episode and Nigel Doughty’s resignation, that wasn’t realistic.
But now things have changed. Without the Al-Hasawi buy-out we’d be facing another relegation battle and the prospect of having to cash in on our assets to raise necessary transfer funds once again (I’m thinking Gunter here). But with Fawaz and his brothers at the helm, we can surely allow our expectations to rise a little. Even if Steve Cotterill had earned his shot at it (which is debatable), he’s not the man you’d hire if you wanted to spend big and chase promotion.
That Cotterill has been given his cards without hesitation is a good sign, I think. Far better than stringing him out and putting him at the mercy of our more impatient fans. Fawaz Al-Hasawi’s stated intentions of listening to the fans and the renaming of the academy in memory of Nigel Doughty are also encouraging to see. The fact that we’ve already been accused of tapping up another manager and that the egregious Gianni Paladini is supposedly involved are less encouraging.
No sensible Forest fan will be counting their chickens about our future just yet. We know very little and I suspect only time will tell what’s in store. But the Al-Hasawis are very welcome, as would be anybody willing to rescue our club from its rather sticky quagmire and make the right noises.
I’ve always refused to join in the personal vitriol aimed at Cotterill and I genuinely think he is a likeable bloke who did a fairly good job for us in the circumstances. But I’m not sad to see him go. We can move on now, leave all that nastiness behind us. Let the new owners hire their own man, I say. Let them be judged on what they do now. I still maintain that hiring Cotterill when we did was the right move (and the fact we’re still in the Championship and still seen as a worthy investment proves it). Let’s hope, whoever the new owners hire, that is the right move as well.