Fawaz Al-Hasawi was a safe man in the summer.
He’d just ‘saved’ Nottingham Forest, and none of the talking was done on the field of play. Signing after signing, tweet after tweet, Fawaz was becoming quite a hero.
The time to judge Fawaz is now. Game after game, reaction after reaction, sacking after sacking.
The younger Al-Hasawi brother is stamping his authority on the club, leaving legends in his wake. The talk of positivity drifted away with the sacking of Sean O’Driscoll, and was further zapped following the dismissal of Frank Clark.
Also exiting were Keith Burt, and the more welcoming departure of the much criticised, seemingly invincible figure of Mark Arthur.
For months it appeared Fawaz was happy for the club operation to be steady and unassuming. Now, Forest are resembling a risky game of Jenga. Blocks of the club ripped out unexpectedly, leaving the foundations shaking and the supporters miffed and anxiously awaiting the next move Fawaz will make.
Two weeks on, and still no official word from the club or owner to acknowledge the departures. A lack of respect to a club legend, or a total ignorance to the fans?
In weeks Forest have gone from ignored and under the radar, to challenging the likes of Blackburn Rovers to being the national laughing stock. With depressing reports that Alex McLeish is having difficulty with controlling all aspects of player management and team selection, the next few weeks and months will be crucial for the future of McLeish, and the repuation of Fawaz Al-Hasawi.
The true test of Fawaz Al-Hasawi’s real intentions could come from an unlikely source. Karl Darlow, the fresh-faced rookie, and the new No1. With the arrival of new goalkeeper Khalid Al-Rashidi, Karl Darlow is under pressure to perform. But the man under more pressure, may be Alex McLeish.
The moment Karl Darlow makes an error, may be the time McLeish feels an unwelcome burden on his shoulders. If Al-Rashidi comes straight in, it could suggest that the Kuwaiti has all of the attributes to be successfully thrust into English football. Or alternatively, it could indicate that all is not well, and Fawaz’s ‘hands on’ approach has gone to extremes.
Many presuppositions are being made of Fawaz, so looking at the managerial situation may tell us more.
Sean O’Driscoll, given a three-year contract, with the remit of building a football club with a philosophy and approach that would lead to years of success. An appointment fans were happy with. Fawaz rarely pleaded with the fans for patience, because a reminder wasn’t required.
One point outside the playoffs, one place outside the playoffs, O’Driscoll left Forest in a “position of strength”, Fawaz was quoted as saying.
Alex McLeish was then appointed on a 12 month rolling contract. Patience was required, and the owner was the first to remind the expectant public. A three-year deal for a man he was unwilling to remain patient with, yet only one year for the individual we’re all told to be patient with?
The off-field talk could’ve been dumbed down by the football taking place, but this hasn’t been the case. Alex McLeish, brought in to do better than O’Driscoll, currently has Forest six points from sixth place. McLeish, with a reputation and name to bring back from the mud, had to hit the ground running. One win in six games consequently means the doubters are out in force.
With some quarters criticising the manager early on, it’s important for McLeish to get the players on his side, to buy into his beliefs, in order for the players themselves to possess the confidence to get results. Early indicators suggest this has far from been the case.
Following six of Alex McLeish’s six half-time team talks, Forest have been the first to concede. Earlier in the season, the players flouted a grit, character and determination that saw them come on strong in the latter stages. Now though, the regular second half showings imply the half time break seeps away at their confidence and momentum.
With this in mind, and the players yet to be won over, was it wise of McLeish to label their latest display as “brain-dead”?
While McLeish continues to urgently air his need for new players, Fawaz is reassuring that work is being done behind the scenes. The January business so far has seen two much needed defenders arrive, as well as the underwhelming entrance of Darius Henderson.
Henderson, a signing many people have compared to Reading’s buy of Jason Roberts last season. The difference being, Reading by this point had found a consistency and feel-good factor that Roberts could come in and continue. Forest are lacking both. This, and their lack of confidence, may see the Forest players panic into playing a brand of football negative on the eye, that Forest fans are more than willing to express their discontent at.
Alex McLeish commented only last week that four or five players are required. Fawaz Al-Hasawi has less than a week to provide the tools for his man to work with.
So much work, so little time. Fawaz will be working up an extra sweat, and maybe it is then he’ll realise the enormity the of sacking major recruitment figures at the club at such a poor time.
@will_forest to get in touch via Twitter.