A grand plan for Forest
This is a message to Fawaz Al-Hasawi (and anyone else who may be reading).
Nottingham Forest need to start working on a grand plan, not on an individual’s ideas that change every six months. This grand plan has to be implemented on all levels. The chairman, the fans, press team, the youth team, the coaches, the scouts, the manager and finally the players.
Forest has seemed so disjointed for years. This is mainly attributed to constantly changing managers. A style is set in place, the players are bought for that style of play and then the manager is removed and replaced with another, who has different ideas and needs different players. This means that we have players at the club who don’t fit the current style and are considered deadwood. Every few month we have to change the whole team’s mentality and playing staff all in time for the results to pick up; otherwise the hard work is undone when a new manager is brought in, and then the process starts all over again. It is possible that at some point we will get lucky, we will appoint the right manager with the right players and we go up, but this wouldn’t be a sustainable success. If we came down again, would we have a plan to get back up? Or would it back to trial and error again?
All the while that this continues, there isn’t as much change regarding the youth team coaches. So what is the youth team being coached? Do they learn a new style every six months like the first team? With the coaches having to adapt their style. Are they coached a certain way at youth level, then when they make the change to first team level there is a difference in what is being taught? Or are they just coached to win matches without any play style focused on as long as we win?
It is clear this isn’t the way to continue – we need to create a grand plan. We have to choose what we want Forest to represent and then start to emulate it. All of us. I think it’s a popular opinion around Forest that we want a stable club that plays passing, attacking football. So how can we create this?
1. Hire a director of football
This is the most important man in the club; he runs everything from now on so we have to make sure he is a good one. That money you want to spend on a new striker, the millions of pounds? Well spend it on this director of football instead; it is crucial we get this one right. Speak to your footballing advisors and pick a director that has success at achieving what we are trying to achieve. We want a stable team with an ethos that runs throughout the club, not just through the first team. Try and snatch one of Swansea’s or Southampton’s directors as they have done exactly what we want before. Look abroad, try and find the best person you can, sell them this idea and bring them in at all costs.
2. Release a statement to the fans
Fans are impossible to please, they really are. A lot of fans I speak to would love this idea, they would jump for joy when it’s implemented, but the second that results drop they will call for the manager’s head and want things to change. You can’t stop this from happening, but you can make it easier. We had a manager before who tried to play the style of football we wished for (Sean O’Driscoll), but he wasn’t part of a plan, he was a manager who played the style we want thrown into the loop of managers coming and going, and ultimately he was hounded out with pressure from the fans. So it’s key for you to make a statement that these changes are not changes on the manager roulette wheel, these are long term changes and that we might not see evidence of progress for years.
Release a statement such as “I am here to tell you of changes going on at Forest. We wish to change how to club is ran. We have brought in Mr X to be director of football and oversee this. We are aiming towards a long sustainable club where the ethos run throughout. The under-6’s right the way up to the first team will all be coached on the same style of football. We plan on playing a passing, attractive brand of football and any subsequent players or managers brought it will reflect this. Our scouts will search worldwide to find players who fit our style. Success may not come for years, we may have bad results, but I ask you as fans to be patient with the club because whatever happens on the pitch, I can assure you every day we grow to be a stronger football club.”
3. Ignore the fans
Once this plan is set in place, ignore the fans. Completely ignore them. There will always be an idiot who doesn’t like what’s happening and they can make a lot of noise. Your statement may get backlash, as may your selling/buying of players and hiring/sacking of managers. Whatever you do, don’t listen to the fans. We are stupid and we don’t know what’s best for the club. The one person you listen to is that director of football you spent so much money on. He knows what’s best, he knows whether selling a player is worth it, whether buying a player is worth it and he knows when to sack/hire a manager. Listen to him; don’t try to please the fans because it’s impossible.
4. Listen (and speak) to the director of football
It goes without saying, this is the second most important thing after hiring the man, but in the first few months there will be several key things that need to be decided. Listen to the man. Namely what to do with the current manager. Maybe the current manager doesn’t fit the intended style, but the director of football may say, “Give the current manager a chance to change his style,” in which case you do it. Or he may say, “Unfortunately we are better off making the change now to a manager who plays our style. Sack him and hire person X.”
In these first few months, you listen to him and carry out his plan, even if you question it. Speak to the director of football about everything – if you hear of a player, or your manager wants one, then the director of football has to be informed. Anything and everything goes through him. He decides which manager to hire too. This way he ensures the manager he hires plays our style of football. That way, if every single player we have at the club is designed to play a certain way, and we hire managers that play that way, then we won’t get this old manager deadwood that keeps haunting us.
5. Bring in coaches
We as a club are blessed with an ambitious, caring owner who can spend money; this is a good place to spend money. Convert the coaching system top to bottom so it fits the passing style we want to play. The under-6’s at the club need to be taught to play in the exact same style that the first team does. So when a player comes through our ranks, it’s a natural progression all the way. The director of football will tell you which coaches to get.
6. Begin a scouting network
Another place to spend the money. Start a great scouting network, with every single scout understanding what we require from every single player and position. They can go out and look for players worldwide who have the attributes to play how we want to play. These scouts don’t change from manager to manager, they stay with the club. They report to the director of football. This way, when our star player is sold and we are looking to replace, we have options all over the world who we know will come in perform the same duty as the old player.
7. Be patient
You have to remain patient. There may be days when we lose 3-0 or we sell our best players and you are wondering what the hell you’re doing following the director of football. Well don’t, be patient. These things take time. You have played the manager roulette since 2012 and our club is no closer now than it was back then. If you stick to this plan for three years we will definitely be in a better position than we are now.
- Follow on Twitter @forestgrandplan