If you know any Nottingham Forest fans, give them a hug.
If you’re a fan of the Reds, you have our sympathy. The return of Billy Davies as manager on Feb. 7 began another chapter in what was expected to be a dream season. Instead, it has turned into an utter joke.
When the Al-Hasawi family purchased the Championship club from the estate of the late Nigel Doughty in July 2012, it set its sights on getting Forest to the Premier League. It was a lofty goal given the club finished 19th last season. For a while, that dream appeared reachable as Forest began the season near the playoff spots, but now the ownership seems to be doing much to alienate the fans.
Since current club chairman Fawaz Al-Hasawi, his brother Abdulaziz, and cousin Omar became Forest’s owners on July 10, the club has had four managers and fired the club’s chief executive. Meanwhile, a season that looked rosy has turned into one in which a playoff spot might be a longshot.
A timeline of events since the Al-Hasawi family bought Nottingham Forest:
July 10 — The family completed its purchase of the club. Manager Steve Cotterill was fired within several days.
July 19 — Sean O’Driscoll, who coached under Cotterill in the last half of the 2011-12 season, was hired as manager from Crawley Town, for which he never managed a match.
Dec. 16 — Omar Al-Hasawi resigns as club chairman due to personal reasons. His cousin and majority owner, Fawaz, becomes chairman.
Dec. 26 — After a Boxing Day victory over Leeds United, O’Driscoll was fired with Forest one point out of a top-6 playoff position at 36 points. Fawaz Al-Hasawi, aiming toward promotion, stated he wanted a manager with Premier League experience.
Dec. 27 — Alex McLeish, who had a terrible 2011-12 season as Aston Villa‘s manager, was hired. McLeish also managed Birmingham City into the EPL in 2009 and led its surprise League Cup championship in 2011 before the club was relegated at the end of the season.
Jan. 17 — In a Thursday-night massacre, 13-year chief executive Mark Arthur, 7-year scout Keith Burt, and the “club ambassador,” former Forest player, manager and chairman Frank Clark, were fired.
Jan. 31 — An agreement with Peterborough for midfielder George Boyd collapsed in the final hours of the transfer window because of an “inconclusive eye test.” Peterborough chairman Darragh MacAnthony ripped the Forest ownership on Twitter: “Apparently after playing 300 games in 6 1/2 years (for Peterborough), his vision isn’t 20/20, so no deal.”
Feb. 1 — After the failed transfer, rumors began spreading about problems in the relationship between McLeish and Fawaz Al-Hasawi.
Feb. 5 — McLeish leaves the club, after just 40 days, by mutual agreement. Forest won just one of the six matches under McLeish. On the club’s website, McLeish stated: “There was a difference in the understanding of the development strategy of the football club. It was felt by both parties that we should part company.
Feb. 7 — Davies, who was fired by Forest 20 months earlier, is hired to replace McLeish. Davies got Derby County into the EPL in 2007, but after a horrible start in what became an abomination of a season, he left the club by mutual consent 14 matches into the season. Davies joined Forest in December 2008, but after consecutive playoff failures, he was fired in June 2011.
After a 2-0 loss to relegation-zone Bristol City, Nottingham Forest sits in 13th place in the Championship, just six points from a playoff position with 15 matches remaining. That means the chance at playing in the May playoffs remains, but the question is how much more can the fans take?
This season, to put it mildly, has been dysfunctional thanks to the Al-Hasawi family. Hopefully, Davies can save the season — the fans deserve it after the hell they have endured.