THE BLOG
20/07/2012 13:20 BST | Updated 19/09/2012 06:12 BST

Sean O'Driscoll: Nottingham Forest's Future 'Icon'?

A week after the glamorous new owners of Nottingham Forest spoke of a plan to return to the Premier League and recruit an "iconic" manager to help get them there, the side has no defenders and the former coach of Doncaster Rovers and Crawley Town.

Last week, the glamorous new owners of Nottingham Forest gave long-suffering fans reason to be optimistic - a reported £20m transfer budget, a realistic plan to compete with the likes of Manchester United and Manchester City in the Premier League, and, after abruptly sacking manager Steve Cotterill, the aim to recruit who they described as an "iconic" new boss to take the club back to its glory days. Just over a week later, the side has no defenders and the former coach of Doncaster Rovers and Crawley Town.

However, all is not as gloomy as it may seem to the neutral football fan or the scoffing supporters of rival Championship clubs. Granted, the sale of Chris Gunter to newly-promoted Reading, which leaves Forest without a first-team back four, is not ideal - but £2.3m is a good price and one would hope the new manager could use these funds for two, or perhaps three, replacement defenders.

The City Ground return of new manager Sean O'Driscoll, who was first-team coach under Cotterill for the second half of last season, may not have been what Forest fans had in mind when the owners - the Kuwaiti Al-Hasawi family - spoke enthusiastically about their goals for the club last weekend. "We are talking to several main iconic names that have a very clear understanding of this league," Abdulaziz Al-Hasawi told BBC East Midlands Today - and this quote gradually drew an increasing amount of mockery, and suspicion that the word 'iconic' may have been used incorrectly by a non-native English speaker, as the week went on. Harry Redknapp, who just months ago seemed certain to take the England manager's position, was the first bookies' favourite before he swiftly ruled himself out. Then it became apparent that Mick McCarthy, an undoubtedly successful manager at Championship level, would take the reins - but following talks with the new owners he too wanted no further part in negotiations. Darren Ferguson, Roy Keane, Gordon Strachan and Sven Goran Eriksson were further personalities bandied around speculative online news stories and Twitter - and just 48 hours ago it seemed that another former England manager, Glenn Hoddle, would be the chosen one.

Whether O'Driscoll's appointment is a result of the other candidates turning the job down will probably never be known, but that is not to say supporters are disappointed. The poor decision to sack the overachieving Billy Davies last summer in favour of Steve McClaren, resulting in a disastrous start to the season, is still fresh in Reds fans' minds and many are aware that a good manager is not all about big names. As the excellent Soccernomics suggests, football clubs often see a manager as a PR front, hence the recruitment of the household names (and not usually much success) as a statement of intent. Indeed, many fans believe it was the recruitment of the ex-Bournemouth boss O'Driscoll, rather than bringing in Cotterill as McClaren's replacement, that saved the club from relegation to League One - something that seemed a certainty back in January.

Furthermore, O'Driscoll may well be ahead of his managerial rivals in the Championship in terms of his football philosophy. Once described as the Arsene Wenger of League One, O'Driscoll - who is known for the fluid, passing football that Forest fans crave - strives to become the best manager he can by using perhaps non-traditional, yet meticulous, methods.

"It was nothing to do with scoring more goals or defending better, it was about being punctual and having respect for one another. It's what I imagine, although I don't know, Manchester United do every day, but in a different way. The culture there is about excellence and as you walk through the doors of Manchester United, Arsenal, Liverpool or Chelsea there's certain things demanded of you, week in, week out," he told the goalfood website while at Doncaster (an interview which is well worth a read). "I don't mean to be different or try to be deliberately different - I just think we can look at things a different way."

O'Driscoll has just three-and-a-half weeks and three friendly matches to assemble his squad and prepare for the team's first competitive game of the season, a League Cup match against Fleetwood Town. And as he hits the ground running with the remaining group of Forest players who have already worked with him, fans will hope it won't be too long before he walks through those Premier League doors with the Reds.