Comebacks

Comebacks

Since my move to the Home Counties, the tweed capital of England, several things have changed in my life, but none more so than the conversation you overhear in the pub [sorry I mean Gastropub]. In came these tweed-wearing men, who must be part of the local history society and they begin to argue the topic of comebacks. One man argues that Charles de Gaulle, is the greatest ever Frenchman to make a comeback as it was he who was in exile, with the Free French, and then swept to power upon the extinction of the Nazi regime. Then came the turn of the second man and he went royal. King Richard III, who unlike a phoenix rising from the ashes made a twisted-comeback following the discovery of his kyphosis framed in a car park in Leicester, and was later reinterred with the honour of a being the last Plantagenet King. They went on with their conversation as I went back to the bar for a lager.

This conversation about comebacks made me consider who from the world of sport have graced us with a comeback that has made a difference to those fans. In football management, comebacks are a rarity, a vast (minority or majority) of Nottingham Forest fans lauded Mr Chairmen for his appointment of our now de-throned King, Billy Davies. However, Billy’s tempestuous relationship with the tyrannical Chairmen saw him pushed aside once more and into the Football Manager wilderness to not be seen again. Similarly, Jose Mourinho made a triumphant return to Chelsea, admitting his love for the club and all things blue. Yet, whilst the fans were glad to have their leader back. The players were becoming restless in their penthouses and Ferrari’s and when Mourinho upset the players by sacking their favourite doctor, for merely doing her job, we all expected the marching orders. The players put the nail in Mourinho’s coffin, and after Chelsea recorded their worst start to the season under Roman Abramovich’s wallet, the Russian travelled back from his homeland, this time without love, but a shredder for Mourinho’s contract.

On the playing field, I read in The Telegraph [The only sun in the south is that one that shines] that Andy Goode was to retire from professional rugby for the second time in a year. For those of you that are unaware of the talent and corpulent nature of Andy, Andy was actually quite eponymous, 17 caps for England, 400 Premiership rugby (PR) appearances, and second on the all-time points scoreboard. Andy’s sense of humour and inability to tackle world cup winner, Dan Carter, in any other manner than high, has seen him flourish on the pitch and off the pitch when working as a pundit. In football, the last time I witnessed a decent footballing comeback was Paul Scholes who came back in 2012-13 season and played an impressive 33 times despite having a most of a year out of the game coaching in the academy.

paul-scholes_2192102b

This made me think, who would I have back at my favourite club, Nottingham Forest, would it be Wes Morgan who is putting on one hell of a show at the topic of the Premier League, Peter Shilton who arguably was the best purchase Forest have ever made, or John Robertson, the fat winger. If I had to, I would chose John Robertson, just to relive those moments of pure brilliance from Munich and Madrid, crosses that David Beckham would be proud of and shots that even Peter Shilton wouldn’t be able to save. However, on reflection would I want a player or manager to comeback to my club, No I would not. Painting the wall with the same magnolia will over time; reveal the same wall. Relighting nostalgia is great and if anything that is worth paying £1500 to attend your clubs anniversary celebrations, or £15 in the ticket office for the latest testimonial match, but to reincorporate a player who left for whatever reason(s), or manager who felt it unjust. We have to plan ahead and remember when they were here, what impact did they really make, have we changed since then, and if so, where are we going, and if we are going places, by a ticket like everyone else and sit in the stands.

nottingham-forests-john-r-010

Inviting a player back will only further deepen the players coffers in this current climate and as we don’t have any recent players of Andy Goode or Paul Scholes’ ilk, we should continue to reinvest our funds into the academy, player recruitment and retention, and facilities to strive the club forward for the future.

Fawaz Group’s Spring Clean

Fawaz Group’s Spring Clean

Almost biannually one hears of how the figurehead of an outfit is removed, often without notice. Some vanish into thin air, and whilst a few return, some are no longer seen again. You might be forgiven for thinking that I am referring to the treatment of General’s in Kim Jong-un’s regime in North Korea. However, I am sadly referring to the treatment of Nottingham Forest and its managerial appointments. Deep within the Al-Hasawi camp there has been that almost biannual spring clean, and once more the journalists are rubbing their hands together. Our rivals look on with pity, and we as fans are left to pick up the pieces whilst being expected to get behind the new management, players and club with smiles on our faces. Nottingham Forest are once more the court jesters of the league. [Yet that is not to say that Paul Clement’s dismissal from that team down the Brian Clough Way in February should not be considered one of more baffling decisions of the season]. However, whilst the Supreme Leader can release some nationalistic propaganda to warn its enemies about the forthcoming nuclear war, our own leader can only release the familiar rhetoric stored next to their P45.

I must admit my bias; I love Nottingham Forest, yet unlike Fawaz, I will admit to my own poor form. I am an arm-chair fan and owing to work commitments, the 350 mile round trip for home games, and the odd lack of championship teams based around my Surrey home, I haven’t seen my beloved in the flesh for some time. Yet, I yearn for information and I openly admit that I am one of those jaded fans who searches for NFFC on match-days on Twitter, the BBC sport website, and the occasional blurb that is put out via the official club channels. Whilst I Believe in Miracles, the early Clough era was a fantastic fairytale and like Romanticism, it had to come to an end. I am a realist; I know when we over-achieved in 1994-95 qualifying for the UEFA cup, and when we have underachieved with Billy Davies in 2009-10, yet this predicament of managerial turnover has been prevalent since the departure of our own Supreme Commander, Brian Clough OBE. I’m sure he would forgive me for using a quote from Old big ‘ed himself, but ‘Rome wasn’t built in a day, but I wasn’t on that particular job’. Some say managers need to be given time but the average tenure of managers in the Championship is 1.14 years, and those of the Garibaldi red, since Brian Clough’s era, have stayed an almost sector-leading 1.35 years. You could argue that Fawaz, in comparison to his peers, gives our managers more time than some, yet each manager under his tutelage has only been at the helm for 30 games.  As a fan, we are entitled to believe in miracles, the players and manager can also believe in a collective something, yet the chairmen and his ‘advisors’ have to be realistic with the resources we have, and be true to themselves when addressing dips in form.

You would hope that to be able to emblazen our shirts with Fawaz International Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Company, someone from the Al-Hasawi family has to know something about business, or at least now how to get a sponsor printed onto a shirt. As avid BBC Breakfast fans will be aware, when a company is not doing too well, Steph will give us a breakdown of the company’s latest financial report. Steph carefully dumbs down how the shareholders of company ‘x’ are not to be too pleased on hearing the latest profit warnings and conscientiously we get an insightful chat from the Chief Executive of company ‘x’ defending their progress in their chosen sector, especially during this turbulent economic time. Then within a few weeks, whoosh, like magic, they have torn up their contract, taken their million pound share bonus, and escaped to Bermuda.

Similarly, Freedman has had to endure his own hardship of the business model in which he found himself: Financial Fair Play, injuries, questionable signings [who we can only assume were sourced following one of Fawaz’s offspring playing the latest version of Football Manager], and fastidious probing from local BBC journalists. While this was all unfolding, fans were sitting back and enjoying the initial lulled performances; we were enthused to be on a 13-game unbeaten streak from November to February. We remained outside the play-off places that might have appeased Fawaz. Sadly, like all good things this streak of good fortune had to come to the end, and Dougie Freedman’s tenure as manager of Nottingham Forest came to an end on Sunday 13th March 2016.

As we know, football isn’t a business; it’s a pastime of the rich and not so famous. We, as fans, continue to support clubs who are occupied by these opulent tenants. Therefore we sit and we moan from the terraces. We have to endure the monopolisation of our club for whatever monetary, societal or political gain the owners can achieve from owning a club such as ours. However, with recent fan-based movements proving fruitful in easing the cost of away tickets in the Premier League, one asks oneself if it is about time that we as fans curtail the advancement of the Fawaz reign and stand for what we believe is right for our club.

Let us draw to a close with extracts from the Fawaz group’s core values and vision. Part of their vision is to be ‘the most admired company in the region… and to delight customers and stakeholders’. Their most pertinent values are ‘trust & reliability’, and to ‘nurture people’ whilst being ‘adaptive and agile’. In comparison to those who, in their haste, delete their inappropriate tweets of expensive cars and off-the-cuff expletives; I somehow feel that the Fawaz Group Mission and Vision pages might soon need to change to reflect their true values and vision as reflected in their stewardship of Nottingham Forest Football club. I personally recommend that they obtain that P45 from the club secretary’s drawer and remove themselves before the fans do.