Are Forest's Owners Joining the Megalomanic Club?

By J.J. Zucal
Alex McLeish was hired Thursday to manage Nottingham Forest. Photo from

We’ve seen it at Chelsea as Roman Abramovich hires and fires managers when he gets bored. It has been with an eye to the future, and it worked last season when the Blues won the Champions League. This may have been the idea — future success — when Alex McLeish returned to English football Thursday when he was hired at Nottingham Forest.

The moves at Chelsea, however, show a man who has power and wants to exercise it. Are fans at Forest beginning to see the development of another owner who will treat the club as his playground of toys?

McLeish replaces Sean O’Driscoll, who had the Championship side one point out of the playoff position. Even with that success, O’Driscoll was fired Wednesday after the Forest defeated Leeds United in their Boxing Day match because, as club chairman Fawaz Al Hasawi said in a statement, “We have a responsibility to look to the future for this great club because we have huge ambitions for it.” Those ambitions, he added, required “an ambitious manager with Premier League experience.”

O’Driscoll’s resume included six seasons at Bournemouth and five at Doncaster Rovers. He had signed to manage League One side Crawley Town in May but left in July to replace Steve Cottrill at Forest, under whom he served as a coach after he was let go at Doncaster last season.

The hiring of McLeish led to mixed reactions by Forest fans. After a long and good managerial career in Scotland, including a stint as its national manager, McLeish had some success in bring Birmingham back to the Premier League in 2008-09. The club finished ninth in 2009-10, then shocked Arsenal to win the 2011 League Cup. Birmingham, however, went into a slump, which meant they were one of the few clubs in Europa League history which had been relegated in the previous season.

McLeish moved to Aston Villa last season, but he was fired at the end of the season as the club barely survived relegation.

This begs the question: the club certainly was capable of playing into the May playoffs. So why the sudden change? Was it because the transfer window opens next week, the thought being players might be attracted to playing for someone who managed in the Premier League? Or was it the actions of a multi-millionaire who is treating his club like a video game? Again, McLeish will be the third Forest manager in 2012.

In response to a Twitter poster’s condemnation of McLeish’s Premier League career — a 34-percent winning percentage — Al Hasawi said, “Let’s give the new manager a chance to work to achieve our wish in PL.” For the fans’ sake, let us hope it is successful.

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