Earlier this week, Paul Kemp of SportingPedia reached out to Nottingham Forest legend Viv Anderson to discuss his old teams’ remarkable achievements last season and his best memories as a player at the City Ground, along with his thoughts on the recent England performance against Hungary and the lack of black managers in the Premier League.
Clifton born Viv, who made 328 league appearances for the Reds, twice winning the European Cup under the late great Brian Clough, stated on the biggest change in dynamics at Forest last season was “When the new Nottingham Forest manager Steve Cooper took over, when they were in the bottom three, that’s when everything changed for me. His fast flowing football has been a joy to watch. It’s good to be back in the top flight, it’s been far too long.”
On the players impressing Anderson during last season at Forest, one stood out, like many, for the former England full back, stating “The standout player for me has to be Brennan Johnson – lots of energy, very fast and direct, plus scores goals.”
Keeping the Reds in the Premier League however is the next task and Anderson who played the majority of his career in the top flight for teams like Forest, Manchester United and Arsenal, said “Recruitment is key to stay in the Premier League, which I think Steve Cooper has been good at in the past with Swansea and Nottingham Forest. He just needs the backing of the owners with a realistic budget. We all know it’s always difficult for the new teams in the Premier league, but hopefully we do what Brentford did and stay up in our first season. They are Nottingham Forest’s gauge.”
Viv’s own memories stretch back to the early 1970’s as a local born player coming up through the Forest system, going on to play for England and winning titles that included League, FA Cup and European Cups, saying of those that stand out the most “There are so many, I was very lucky to have played with some fantastic players and won a few trophies along the way, but I must say winning the first division in 1977-78 finishing seven points ahead of Liverpool, is up there, secondly winning the first of two European Cups, and next is my England debut against Czechoslovakia in November 1978.”
Speaking of England, Anderson is still optimistic that the nation he represented in 30 full internationals can still go on to win the World Cup in Qatar later this year despite a setback in midweek losing 4-0 to Hungary in Wolverhampton. Anderson saying “we all looked tired and Gareth was trying out his squad players to see how they would fit into international football. That’s never easy as a manager, but you need to see them in a competitive match. When you put on that shirt there’s no easy games, not for England players, but I must say the Hungarians played very well. Regarding the World Cup, I think once we get there we’ll be fine, no one will want to play England on any given day. We could beat anyone but also lose to anyone. As I always say three months before the World Cup, of course we can win it.”
Focussing his shift on the lack of black managers in the top flight, Anderson, the first black player to play for England and one of the first black coaches in the country to take charge of a first-team, helping Barnsley to avoid relegation in 1993/94 as Player/Manager before working as assistant to Bryan Robson at Middlesbrough in some exciting years at the Riverside during the late 1990’s, Anderson said “It’s been like this for years, even when I was a manager, there was very little representation of black managers. Keith Alexander was the first and then I was second. There are now lots of black players finishing playing and looking for coaching or managerial jobs but the majority of them are not even getting an interview. With this said, I am in favour of the Rooney rule that makes clubs interview black coaches and managers as long as they’ve got the qualification. It should be a level playing field for everyone, but clearly people who employ managers and coaches think black managers and coaches are good footballers but don’t believe they could make good managers and coaches. Things have to change.”
Anderson is an MBE who’s roles these days includes considerable charity work, he is the ambassador and founder for Playon Pro, a global network of sports professionals, bringing fans closer to their sporting heroes.
*Main image @playonofficial Viv Anderson made 430 appearances for Nottingham Forest.