I read an article doing the rounds yesterday written by Daniel Taylor of the Athletic ‘dishing the dirt’ on Forest with some intriguing stuff on what’s gone on behind the scenes under the Marinakis reign.
Interesting stuff, a great read, depthy too, it should have been a book, controversial, written by a Forest fan who had previous for upsetting the club with words about Fawaz whilst Billy Davies (remember him) was in charge. The article homed in on the clubs hiring, firing and ‘atmosphere’ and especially pointed a finger at CEO Ioannis Vrentzos who is said to be ‘not ideal’ to work with.
But reading between the lines, despite the club having a name for one of its rooms titled ‘the departure lounge’ thanks to the amount of people going in it never to return, despite the zoom call by Marinakis ‘telling his players off’ for throwing the playoffs away against Stoke, despite frosty relations between previous managers and the board, the essays of Nicholas Randall (QC), along with his confusing role and a handful of players dropping into the ‘bomb squad’… I wondered… Is this anything new? Does this not happen at ‘every club’? Does this article written by a Forest fan do anything to ‘help’ anyone else but Taylor’s own impressive writing career?
Whilst some fans agreed ‘dishing the dirt’ was needed to give an insight as to what really is going off at the City Ground, others sided with the response that I take, with one saying yesterday “Will it improve relations between the players and the club? No. Will it make Chris Hughton’s job easier? No. Will it make a win tonight (against Watford) more likely? No. Will it make the club more attractive to potential new signings? No.”
“Will it generally create more unease among fans, players, staff, sponsors? Yes. If he’s such a big Forest fan why run the story?”
Now I personally credit Taylor (and his mole) for a magnificent, interesting insight, but anyone that ‘knows’ football knows too that owners (especially foreign ones) do have their odd ways, CEO’s may be unliked, bomb squads are a thing (ask Ozil and Arsenal), departure lounges too (Managers never last long at Watford, Chelsea, even Crystal Palace with more than any other club since 1992)…. So have we really unearthed anything new but bringing up old news of annoyed ex’s to ruffle a few feathers of todays team?
Karanka was bitter, yes, he’s gone… O’Neill was the wrong choice, he’s gone too, Sabri’s results in the end dramatically fell off a cliff, he has gone, Taylor in his own words has said Vrentzos is ‘aware’ that he needs to change for the better of the club, fans have been quick to criticise but the man who is responsible for making the clubs major corporate decisions, is also under fire too.
Taylor brings up a row in a restaurant when Vrentzos couldn’t get planning permission from the council to build apartments adjacent to the City Ground which would help fund the project of rebuilding the Main Stand. He brings up the time he was ‘shouting’ at the touchline against Stoke, unprofessional yes, passionate though, as he saw the multi-millions of playoff opportunity fall away minute by minute, goal by goal on the last day of the season. Would you rather that than someone sit there and not care?
This isn’t a guy harming the club, but doing what he can to improve it from a financial position, whilst not getting the backing he needs (on the pitch and through the council) to implement it.
Forest ‘tried’ the Jorge Mendes route, it didn’t work. They ‘tried’ the club legends O’Neill and Keane, it didn’t work… They tried the suave and sophisticated foreign manager, it didn’t work.
In the summer Taylor said Sabri asked for Lyle Taylor and Luke Freeman, he got both, ok he might have got a player from Olympiacos he didn’t want too, but sometimes Managers don’t get what they want. This happens. But the club is learning from mistakes and trying to rectify them the best way they can.
Now I understand a significant ‘culture’ difference in running football clubs in different countries which is something the owner needs to learn from too, and quickly if he’s to get fans back on board. I personally don’t know ‘what’ Marinakis wants other than ‘success’ for himself, but ask have we ‘improved’ as an organisation in the years since he’s took charge? I would say yes (at least bills are now paid on time). Have we improved to function as a football club? Yes (the flags, the fans, the atmosphere pre covid was electric, the finances in good order with the Academy still thriving). Have we improved on the field of play? Until this season, yes. The only thing that I’ve been sour with personally (other than results) is the clubs communications, but we’ve even seen improvements in that too in recent weeks, at least they now send out a weekly email even if it’s been put together by a school kid.
Chris Hughton is now the man in charge, in Taylor’s own words, Manager, not Coach. The club again ‘learning’ that perhaps the ‘English way’ is better if they are to get out of the Championship using ‘tried and tested’. Now Hughton needs the time to try and test.
After recent results and yesterdays controversial piece (which most players probably wouldn’t have been aware of), Forest could have died on the pitch last night against Watford, but they didn’t. Playing with heart, with enthusiasm and with passion, they kept the ball, dominated possession, did well against a side that was six months ago playing Premier League football.
The Reds didn’t manage to score which is certainly a problem of late, but they are eleven games in to a new era under a new gaffer who needs time himself to find the right dynamics to take the side forward. Success does not happen over night, and Forest’s biggest failure over the years has been impatience.
We may not like our owners, we may not like our board, some of us may not even like our players whilst a few mad men (and women) may think the Manager has to go… But this is a club aware of its predicament, it is a club doing what it can to not survive but thrive during these strange times… So rather than spinning another air of negativity down Pavilion Road, why don’t we just get behind the club, players, manager and board, as fans, as followers, using the old fashioned words of ‘supporting our team’ through thick and thin, because if we are ‘all’ singing from the same hymn sheet on this emotional roller coaster that doesn’t always go to plan, I’m sure Nottingham Forest FC will be in much better place than it currently is with your backing, than it has been of late, without it.
*Article provided by Daniel Peacock (Editor).
*Main image @NFFC the City Ground empty of late, needs fans to be supportive upon return.