Wow. Hardly compliments to the season, is it? Yesterday evening’s events were the footballing equivalent of Dirty Den sending Angie Watts divorce papers on Christmas day...
Whether you are currently in a state of dumbfounded apoplexy, or if you are eagerly awaiting the arrival of what Fawaz Al-Hasawi is saying is a ‘Premier League quality’ manager, just take some time to look at what our Kuwaiti owners said in their first press conference.
They preach the values of a long-term plan with a settled manager, and why patience and virtue is more important than mindless marquee signings and careless spending. Here are four quotes that really intonated they saw O’Driscoll as a permanent fixture:
1) “We have come to the club, putting down a three to five-year business plan to develop the club and bring it back where it should be.”
2) “This is a long-term business plan which we are working on and obviously when the new manager comes in we are going to be sitting with him and discussing this whole plan. Within maybe a few years from now we should have something positive.”
3) “In order for you to have a successful team you have to allow the manager full authority to do his job.”
4) “We look forward to producing top quality players who will lead The Reds to many future victories. We know that for most football clubs, success does not happen overnight.”
From here on in, you are going to see a lot of question marks. ‘Perplexed’ just isn’t the word...
The sacking is as ill-timed as it is ludicrous. Forest played some sumptuous football against Leeds - a by-product of O’Driscoll’s ingenuity and faith in his players - and ascended to eighth in the table, one point off the play-offs. How on earth could the Al-Hasawi’s justify a decision to get rid of one of the division’s most visionary, forward-thinking managers?
The term ‘Premier League quality’ was how Fawaz explained his sudden bout of trigger-finger. It has emerged the owners want a manager who is experienced in the top flight. So much for allowing the manager ‘full authority to do his job’. So much for discussing a whole plan with a manager to develop something positive ‘within a few years’. Indeed, so much for the board not creating a sideshow. It was meant to be different, this time.
I cannot stomach, let alone understand, why O’Driscoll has gone. The owners may pine for a manager who’s been in the Premier League. Does it matter, really? Christ almighty, Paul Jewell has more Premier League experience than Pep Guardiola. It’s a ridiculous way to quantify the talents and skills of a manager. It seems the meritocracy has descended into farce; no manager is entitled to a job on the basis of his ‘name’ alone.
There are ‘those’ fans. The ones that wanted to see the back of the manager. The ones that expect to see us treat the most competitive, open league in the world as a leisurely stroll. We have been in close proximity to the play-off places all season, how is this not good enough for some supporters?
Time to make something clear: I am eternally grateful for what Fawaz and his family have done for this club. We faced oblivion and financial ruin last season, and their generous investment turned us into millionaires overnight. We must remain thankful, but to see the hierarchy make such a terrible, misinformed decision is indicative of the failed foreign-owned clubs that have gone before us.
They even got us all a Christmas present, installing two big screens in the City Ground. They seem to have brought us luck on the pitch, but be warned... 100% of managers we’ve had since have lost their jobs after one game (Sorry, everyone was being daft. I just wanted to join in).
As thankful as we can be to our owners, they put their money in someone else’s hands. O’Driscoll had a month to assemble a squad, and turn a stricken side into a respectable Championship outfit. My God, he only went and did it. He and Keith Burt worked tirelessly to bring in 12 summer signings, and to only lose six of the 24 games Forest had little time to adapt to was a remarkable achievement.
We have the money, we have the fan base, and we certainly have the players. But we HAD our gaffer. We actually had a man whose academic perspectives on football are unique. It’s completely fair if you don’t think O’Driscoll was the right man, but seriously... Who else is there to bring in? After a year of turmoil last season, we had stability. Sweet, sweet stability. Now, it would appear we are subject to the pot luck of the managerial merry-go-round, a gamble I don’t think any of us can be comfortable with.
However, it does seem that this is the price to pay with affluent ownership. It’s like selling your soul. We desperately need the cash from Kuwait, but we need rationality in the boardroom. If this a sign of things to come, we are in for a tumultuous time. The sacking is such an extreme shift in policy, considering this was the chance to build and ‘plan for the long term’. It all seems like the last five months were established on a fallacy.
It is apparent the Al-Hasawi’s already had someone lined up. They are in talks with someone today, which is an even bigger kick in the roast chestnuts for ‘SOD’. It would appear a tactically astute manager has been used as nothing more than a ‘stopgap’. Now the debris has been shifted from the chaos of a relegation dogfight, the man that cleared the mess has now been booted out. It shows a revolting lack of respect.
In all honesty, I remain apathetic as to who our next boss is. Does it really matter? If they lose consecutive games, or fail to win two-in-a-row (as was the feebly-assembled case Fawaz argued for O’Driscoll’s departure) they should be out on their backside, if the owners are consistent. Managers seem to be as expendable as players these days and it is a sad, sad allegory of ‘the modern game’
...I remember when it used to be called ‘the beautiful game’.