Sunday, 13 March 2016

Freedman sacked as Fawaz's Forest farce continues

I've tried to give Fawaz the benefit of the doubt. Even now I think his heart's probably in the right place. He's got money and he wants to make a success of Nottingham Forest. But, let's face it, he hasn't got a single clue how to bring that success about. We're further away from being a Premier League club off the pitch than we are on it and - as anyone who saw us put to the sword in the second half yesterday will attest - that's saying something.

Dougie Freedman's sacking is the latest piece of nonsensical management from the club. And by the club I mean Fawaz and that bloke that looks 16 and has seemingly never heard of a direct debit since there seems to be little else resembling a 'structure' at the City Ground. His departure means that the current owner still hasn't stuck by one manager for a whole season.

Dougie wasn't the messiah, let's not kid ourselves. His style was stodgy at times and he wasn't the most charismatic of figureheads. But he's rolled his sleeves up, worked with the twin pressures of an embargo and crippling injury list and done some much-needed dirty work. He's started to build a side - from the back as you should - and has helped to trim the budget and mop up Fawaz's financial mess. Ironically when he's tried to be more attacking (was he leant on by Fawaz?) it has cost him his job.

We did need to see more goals and more style in time if we were to be capable of contesting promotion but Dougie had earned the right to be given a chance at the job with his star players fit and a transfer budget. Now that he's been denied that chance his rebuilding work is put at risk. The whole of the last year might well be for nothing. The style won't magically improve by sacking the man who has moulded the current 11. In fact the risk of relegation, something Fawaz told Natalie Jackson in mitigation, has just been made worse. Freedman at least knew how to batten down the hatches and tough out a few points.

Fawaz has to understand that their is a direct relationship between the style and substance on the pitch and his actions off it. Attendances, another concern, are hardly going to rise when the owner himself has pretty much written off the season by leaving a caretaker in charge.

Fawaztells me he tried his best to keep DF & wants stability for #nffc but is worried about relegation, fans concern over style of play 1/2
— Natalie Jackson (@NatJacksonsport) March 13, 2016

.. and falling attendances. He also says he wants to take his time over appointing a new manager and won't rush. 2/2 #nffc
— Natalie Jackson (@NatJacksonsport) March 13, 2016

Paul Williams now takes charge for the run in. He's a Freedman recruit of course but looks to have some promising and progressive ideas learned under the tutelage of Mauricio Pochettino at Southampton and has a small amount of experience at Brentford. He seems a bright prospect, which means he'll have no chance of getting the nod full time. Quite how he's supposed to impress is anyone's guess. Not getting our trousers unceremoniously pulled down at Hull and Derby would be a start. Good luck with that.

The Freedman regime didn't just include Williams of course. You doubt that the wise old words of Lennie Lawrence will be heard around the training ground for much longer and Dougie clearly had contacts in France and Spain who dug up some decent transfer targets. He'd also just recruited a 'head of sport science' from Charlton and, most frustratingly of all, had lined up a striker to try to fill the goalscoring void in his team. Little else symbolises the ridiculousness of the situation better than sanctioning the loan deal of a striker and then sacking a manager before he gets the chance to use him on the pitch.

If it's not Williams, then who next? This is, after all, a hotseat turned down by Neil Warnock. The same Neil Warnock that fancied the Rotherham job (and I genuinely mean no disrespect to Rotherham there). Most managers would probably need a minimum of two seasons to gain promotion - and that's if everything goes in their favour - yet it's highly unlikely that anyone appointed will get two years. In that sense it's a near-impossible job.

Perhaps most frustratingly of all is the situation regarding the running of the club. I'm under no illusions that operating a Championship football club is easy but Fawaz is clearly struggling. He has the money and the ambition but he badly needs someone to run the 'business' on his behalf. So far he hasn't shown willing to let anyone do that.

It's highly likely that the 'Fawaz out' ranks will be bolstered by Freedman's sacking. Yet even that makes me nervous. If he does decide to pack his bags but asks for as much as a third of the £67million-plus he is owed in loans to be paid back, then the club's future is in jeopardy. This club - supposedly celebrating a 150th anniversary - has been had many firsts in its history, being the first big name to fold is too horrific to contemplate.

The feeling towards the owner could well turn even more sour in the coming week. By taking this course of action Fawaz has put himself in the spotlight. If we lose heavily at Derby he'll undoubtedly bear the brunt of the fans' ire. Is he ready for that? Given that he seems unable to ignore people on Twitter I fear not. Those fans willing to go along with him before aren't likely to stand up for him too strongly either. It could turn ugly.

Just a final thought: is anyone really that confident we'll come out of the embargo in the summer? Our track record in delivering paperwork, meeting deadlines and working around FFP isn't great, to put it mildly, and I'm not counting my chickens that it'll happen.

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