Alex McLeish's exit after just 40 days in charge is only the latest twist in an increasingly-worrying soap opera at Nottingham Forest.
The last blog I wrote on the club was only in July but given the huge - and mainly ridiculous - changes since then, it feels like a lot longer. New owners from Kuwait, the Al-Hasawi family, spoke with conviction about a realistic plan to get the club back into the Premier League. After the previous regime saw Steve McClaren leave the club after 112 days, they also seemed eager to give new boss Sean O'Driscoll the time and support to execute that plan. In November, much to the disgust/amusement (delete as appropriate) of many, Chelsea sacked their manager Roberto Di Matteo just six months after he led them to winning the Champions League. But that now looks run-of-the-mill in comparison to what has happened at former European Champions Forest in the last five months.
Perhaps O'Driscoll was a victim of his own mini-success. After frantically trying to put a squad together less than a month before the start of this season, including basically signing a new back four, he would have been forgiven for a slow start. But, instead, the side impressed - and although it wasn't necessarily top of the league quality, the flowing football and creativity on show was enough to suggest that we were actually looking like a decent team that would surely only improve as the season went on.
I'm not going to look at that period entirely through rose-tinted spectacles - things did go a bit flat after the first few games, and experimenting with a 5-3-2 formation did not have particularly impressive results - but I don't think any Forest fans wanted to see O'Driscoll abruptly sacked in the middle of the season. On the most part, Forest remained just outside the play-off spots - higher in the league than most realistic fans had expected before the season had begun - and after a Boxing Day win against Leeds we were just one point off sixth. Any disgruntled supporters were appeased with some fancy new big screens and electronic advertising boards at the City Ground in time for that game, at a combined cost of £1m.
I can't describe the last five weeks as anything other than ridiculous. O'Driscoll was sacked hours after the win over Leeds; whatever you think about that decision, that is not the way to treat an employee. Furthermore, he was swiftly replaced by Alex McLeish - who might have got Birmingham City promoted in 2009 but his style of football was never going to match the expectations of fans who pride themselves on supporting a side that plays on the floor. The late Brian Clough's immortal words 'If God had wanted us to play football in the sky, he'd have put grass up there' resonate with the younger members of the Forest faithful as much of those who are old enough to have witnessed those glory days under Ol' Big Head.
And Big Eck's very short time at the City Ground couldn't be further from those ideals. The Scot was presumably recruited in time for the January transfer window, when the club would surely bring in some much-needed width and more strength at the back. Instead, we got two loan players and two free transfers (including a goalkeeper from Kuwait) - and were laughed at almost as much as Peter Odemwingie's car park incident by pulling the plug on George Boyd's transfer from Peterborough because he failed an eye test. McLeish began with the club in seventh and leaves with the Reds in 11th spot in the Championship. His Nottingham Forest record reads: One win, one draws, five defeats... and infinite amount of hopeful long balls into the box.
Not long before the O'Driscoll sacking, there was also worrying activity behind the scenes. Because of 'personal reasons', Omar Al-Hasawi was replaced by his cousin Fawaz as chairman. A couple of days later, club ambassador Frank Clark, admired for his history with the club as both a successful player and manager, was also told to pack his bags, as was chief scout Keith Burt, also seen as a crucial member of the backroom team. Long-serving CEO Mark Arthur, though perhaps not viewed in such a positive light by many, also left the City Ground.
Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, Nigel Adkins, Billy Davies and even Fawaz Al-Hasawi himself are all names to have been linked with the vacancy. But as we approach the next game against O'Driscoll's new employers Bristol City this weekend, the burning question is who would accept the job rather than who the owners will choose.
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