The day Billy Davies walked in to Nottingham Forest to start his second spell at the club, he commented on the “underachieving players” playing at “80-85% of their potential”.
Nine months down the line with Champions League and Premier League players bought by Fawaz’s cash, what has changed?
Three wins in ten and Billy Davies has now resulted to spending 11 minutes digressing his press-conferences into how the referee should be applying the laws of the game.
A first genuine doubt about whether Billy is the right man to take Forest forward, is entering the mind of a lot of supporters. After millions being spent in the summer, it was hoped The Reds would ‘do a Cardiff’, but once again, they seem to be settling down among the chasing pack.
Following a questionable performance against strugglers Middlesbrough, the previously impressive youngster Nathaniel Chalobah was added to the ranks, as fellow clubs looked on with envious eyes. Now though, he’s suddenly not the answer.
A reported £30,000 a week, Chalobah looks anything but interested. To add to the unsettled nature of the Forest squad, with endless rotation, David Vaughan was loaned in as a subsequence of the humiliating display at Yeovil, attempting to solve the problem of the ‘Guedioura role’.
Two very good players, but on the outside it looks as if they’re nothing but ‘panic loans’. Billy Davies in his first press conference also touched on his need to instill added confidence and belief into the players he has. Panic loans are hardly the action of a man who has faith in the current batch.
Leeds United, with loanee Dexter Blackstock, were giving Yeovil the seeing to that Forest couldn’t manage. At the same time, Billy Davies was using defender Greg Halford as his 2nd striker option, rather than Derbyshire, Cox, Tudgay and Miller. Not a huge boost for the strikers he opted to keep on, is it?
As Forest were reduced to 10 men against Blackpool, Billy spoke of his frustration that his tactics were thrown out of the window. Even with 10 men, the atmosphere around the ground was one of disappointment towards the latter stages.
With fifteen minutes to go, it was time to put the foot on the gas and create some problems for Blackpool, asking some questions. Slow on the ball, and walking at a snails pace at set-pieces, even when on the attack, and the tempo to a Forest attack was zapped.
In Billy’s first spell, it was understandable to see his side settle for a point. A midfield usually consisting of Paul Anderson, Paul McKenna and Guy Moussi and expectations could hardly be sky-high.
However, with Jamie Mackie, Gonzalo Jara, David Vaughan and Henri Lansbury now occupying the midfield, more is expected from Nottingham Forest supporters; and who can blame them?
Premier League and International experience, and you get the sense Billy Davies is holding them back a little. It’s down to Billy to adapt his tactics to mould this side into what it is on paper – one that should be ahead in the leading pack.
The January transfer window is approaching and the next two months are crucial to the future of Billy Davies and Forest. Approach the games in a similar manner, leaving yourself susceptible because of players being held back, and it may just be those players knocking on the door of their agents, wanting to be elsewhere.
Ten months ago Fawaz Al-Hasawi pulled the trigger on Sean O’Driscoll for being in a similar positon to the one Billy Davies is now. Millions spent since, hardly much progress made and seeds of doubt may be in the mind of the owner.
A new four-year contract for Billy Davies recently leaves the majority believing their relationship is perfect.
To Fawaz, that may just be a Public Display of Affection not too different to witnessing Katie Price on the front of The Sun hand in hand with yet another husband, insisting that this one is ‘the one’.
Whether the four years means much to Fawaz will probably show in the testing couple of months ahead.
Nottingham Forest fans don’t want Billy Davies sacked. They don’t want vast change. They just want to see a lot better than what they’re currently seeing, and there’s no harm in that.
@will_forest to get in touch via Twitter.