Steve Alexander

The glory days of the late 70s and 80s seem a lifetime ago for Nottingham Forest fans, however the club are still regarded by many as being one of the most successful in British football.

Brian Clough is arguably the greatest manager in the side’s illustrious history, winning a league title, two consecutive European Cups and four League Cups during his time at the City Ground. Since then though, the East Midlands club have failed to reach those heights, and the several managers that have followed Clough have been living in his rather large shadow.

Forest fans have had very little to shout about in recent times and the team has been up and down the Football League pyramid for a number of years now. In 2005, the club achieved an unwanted record, dropping down into the third tier of English football and becoming the only previous European Cup winners to ever do so.
Under the stewardship of Colin Calderwood however, Notts Forest bounced back into the Championship at their second attempt. The Reds though were still in a rebuilding process and a season which was a struggle for Calderwood and his team, saw him dismissed with the City Ground club battling to avoid relegation.

At the beginning of 2009, former Derby County boss Billy Davies was named as Forest’s thirteenth manager in sixteen years, in an attempt to bring the glory days back to the City Ground. With his connection to Derby though, the appointment was greeted with disgust by fans, and the Scots first challenge was to convince the Forest faithful that despite coming from their fierce rivals, he was the right man for the job.

It was after all, another former Derby manager, Brian Clough, who had transformed Nottingham Forest and became the most successful manager in the club’s history. Davies is aiming to replicate the man who is held in such high regard at the former European Cup winners.

Like Clough, Davies is a fascinating and complex character, often unpredictable and at the centre of a story. After a melee in a recent match against rivals Derby, the Scot alleged Rams manager Nigel Clough kicked him in the back of the leg, making a formal complaint to the Football Association about the son of the great man himself.

Despite his critics, the Davies’s record in the Championship cannot be argued with, as he has enjoyed success with both Preston North End and Derby. Davies almost made history at Preston, leading his side to the brink of the Premier League on two occasions, but lost in the playoffs both times.

At Derby, the 45-year-old went one better, beating West Bromwich Albion in the playoff final at Wembley and ending the Rams five-year absence from the top flight. Davies became a victim of his own success in the Premier League however, as the club struggled at the bottom of the table. With only six points from the opening 14 games of the season, the Scot left the club by mutual consent and was seen as a failure in the English top flight.

Davies was determined to prove his doubters wrong at the City Ground and his first task was to ensure the club avoided relegation, which he managed to do with one game of the season remaining, finishing in 19th place.
There were wholesale changes during the summer, which saw the ex-Motherwell boss sign the likes of Lee Camp, Chris Gunter and Dextor Blackstock to permanent deals at the club as well as adding the experience of Paul McKenna and Dele Adebola. At the beginning of the season, Forest fans would have been more than happy with a playoff place, but as things stand, Davies and his side are exceeding expectations. The former Derby boss has assembled a very young side, with the average age of the starting 11 in a recent win against Sheffield Wednesday last month, just 21.
The club didn’t get off to the best of starts this season and despite playing well failed to get the results their form merited. With mumblings around the City Ground about whether or not Davies was the right man for the job, results started to improve and Forest went on an 18-match unbeaten run, including ten wins starting at the end of September, which saw them rapidly climb the table and end up in a playoff position at the end of November.

The East Midlands club have continued to rise up the league and sit in third at the time of writing, behind runaway leaders Newcastle United and West Brom, ironically the side Davies defeated in the playoff final with Derby. Forest are unbeaten in their last ten matches at the City Ground and their home form could be vital if they are to sneak into the automatic promotion spots.
14 months after taking over at Nottingham Forest, Davies has definitely won over any critics he may have had. Although the manager doesn’t like to talk about it, fans are starting to believe that they could finally return to the Premier League and bring the glory days they enjoyed under Clough back to the City Ground.


  Latest Articles: