It was inevitable. Garath McCleary’s free transfer to Reading, followed closely by Sean O’Driscoll’s move to Crawley as manager. However expectant we were of these moves, it still didn’t compensate for the alarming vibes felt after, by the Forest fans.
Supporters had hoped, and in some cases begged McCleary, to sign a new contract at Forest. Unfortunately though, it didn’t happen, and he got his dream move to the Premier League. Some fans, who pleaded with him to stay, soon turned, labelling him a “money grabber with no loyalty”.
As much as I am disappointed with his departure, nobody can begrudge him a move back to his local area, playing in the most exciting league in the world. I fully hope he succeeds, and with the Premier League defences getting visibly weaker in recent years, now could be the perfect time for him.
Sean O’Driscoll, a vital component of Forest’s good football in the last third of the season, understandably chose to revert back to being a manager.
A suitable challenge for him posed at Crawley, and he’ll be sorely missed in Nottingham, with the ressurgence of form in the latter parts of the season coinciding with his arrival. We can only hope Cotterill has observed O’Driscoll’s methods intensely, and can carry on in the same vein.
For Cotterill to carry on in the same vein, he’ll need the players to do so. With many more rumoured exits, it seems the Forest manager may struggle to muster up a bare eleven to field on the opening day. Chris Gunter, the consistent right back, has been linked with the likes of Swansea and Fulham in the past week, with a £1.6 million bid allegedly taking place. With the transfer window not even open, the question has to be asked as to why clubs are going in so early.
What could a club like Swansea know about Chris Gunter, that would force them to make their move early?
An Olympic call up for Team GB is a possibility. A few good performances for Team GB, on the global stage, and the price of a player could be enhanced by millions, which underlines the importance that Forest stay solid in negotiations, and refuse to let go of him for now. Gunter could go from being worth £1.6 million, to something between £3-4 million.
It’d be typical of Forest though, with their business sense, to accept a minimal offer for him, see the short term pound signs, and show him the door. In fact, knowing Mark Arthur, he’d probably let him go for free, like he did for Paul McKenna last season, with a year left on his contract.
Additionally, more players are set to leave. Luke Chambers, Paul Anderson, George Boateng, Joel Lynch, Marlon Harewood and Paul Smith are all out of contract, with the only publically announced contract offer going to Joel Lynch, a key member of the defence. It’s all gone quiet on that front though, and the longer the new Welsh international Lynch, hesitates to sign his contract, the more shambolic the situation gets.
Forest started last season well behind, with Steve McClaren having the stay behind in Nottingham, to try and complete transfer deals, whilst the squad went on their pre-season tour of Portugal. We had money then. Now, we barely have anything, and if they remain in Nottingham ahead of the 2012-13 pre-season tour of America , it’ll be because they’ve run out of petrol on the team bus, and can’t afford to top up.
The longer the ownsership issue is up in the air, the less prepared the club will be ahead of the 2012-13 season. and as Andy Reid pointed out, if Forest go into next season without a proper owner, we may have to accept it’s going to be another difficult year.
Many useful Championship players are leaving their clubs on a free, and Forest are missing out on valuable negotiating time.
First and foremost, they need to resolve events closer to home. Create a proper strategy for the summer, whether it’s undertaken with an owner, or without one. For some supporters, Forest is a passion or a hobby they couldn’t live without, in their weekly lives.
For others, it’s different, and a season ticket renewal is determined by the attitude the club takes to its paying customers, and the way the team plays. Hence, the quieter it gets, the more some fans may lose the love, and consequently turn their backs.