A Comparison: David Platt and Steve McClaren

I feel these characters almost pull Forest full circle over a 10-12 period of time. Both coming to the club with reputations before them that include England although with mixed experiences, and both with a lot to prove. And both given substantial wage funds.

Platt of course was charged with getting us promoted after relegation. No tall order, but in those days almost expected. Clubs yo-yoed frequently, and it wasn’t rare to see the same three clubs up or down doing the same the next season. Platt was given a hefty war chest, even by today’s standards, and splashed out on players which didn’t succeed. This included a veteran in the guise of Moreno Mannini, ho on paper looked to be a rock to hold it all together. Throw in Petrachi and Matrecano, and the three worst signings in clubs history perhaps are complete. There were also large sums spent on Scimeca, and later the likes of Jim Brennan.

McClaren was charged with taking us the extra step to promotion that Billy Davis had failed to achieve, and in a highly competitive division where anyone could beat anyone and in times where clubs from the Premier League were not always expected go up, that differs to Platt. He did however bring in a veteran, in the guise of Boateng who never got going and a duo of expensive players in Miller and Greening, as well as Matt Derbyshire, and Andy Reid (although that was apparently set up before McClaren came in) There was also the Wesley Verhoek saga, and in what now looks like the greatest foresight of anyone, Verhoek opted to turn us down. At the time it was the club said he was unsure about leaving Den Haag. You can’t help wonder if he had some kind of vision.

The comparisons are already there. And take into account that both of them never really inspired confidence during their times with the club. Throw in that both are bookends essentially to Nigel Doughty’s time with the club, and that’s how we come full circle. Platt’s errors bought Doughty to the fore as chairman, and McClaren's ended his reign.
For a long term legacy Platt has to be
argued to be worse. His bad signings and wasting of vast swathes of our cash and parachute payments led us to being in a financial mess. However out of the ashes rose the phoenix of many top young players, and a campaign where we nearly went up. Had it not been for having to shed so many players, perhaps, Jenas, Dawson, Reid and Prutton may not have broken through? Well they probably would, Platt wasn’t afraid to blood youth, he gave Prutton his début (which for me checking Forest results at uni and seeing an unknown name to me played was odd) Some players like Keith Foy were blooded, and although ultimately failing its further than many of have got for a while. That financial element is key though. It meant ultimately we had to sell Jenas before getting any benefit.

Platt also signed David Johnson for a large sum and very large for the time wages. Johnson had a past of succeed in the second tier but never quite the top flight. He flattered to deceive and after being attempted to be moved on, after a loan spell at Sheffield Wednesday, Johnno came good and started banging them in.
Ishmael Miller was an expensive signing on large wages who has done it at this level before. He has also largely flopped in his first season. Now I am not trying to see parallels everywhere, but there are quite striking ones here. He also too had Marlon Harewood to play alongside.

The long term legacy of McClaren is of course similar to Platt. No more money and having to move on players. Top earners HAVE to go, and like the Italians, Derbyshire and Greening look to have simply have failed here. Perhaps Greening could do a Scimeca and ultimately come good.

The long term effects are that again a new chairman will have to come on board and settle the club. The main difference is McClaren walked early. Knowing he was on a hiding to nothing. Platt kept hanging around like a bad smell, until Sven Goran Eriksson insisted he was to be his right hand man, groomed as his heir apparent, only to continue to prove to be inept at England U-21 level.

For the reasons that it appears to be a full chapter beginning and closing in similar ways that I feel a new stage for the club is on the horizon. Steve Cotterill has had the thankless task of mopping up, and despite there still being many boo boys he has ultimately won me over. The guy is genuine, and does, from his signings, seem to know a good player from bad. McClaren and Platt just seemed to sign anyone who came along.

Whether both had tried to create a new cabal of players in the dressing room that were his and knew he could turn to, as well as the obvious restructuring required. We lost a number of players before both players tenures, and in that vital strikers (van Hooijdonk and Earnshaw) needed to be replaced. McClaren also lost a talismanic midfielder in Cohen to injury, although we were already struggling by then.

The basic thing to consider is that both will never be remembered fondly. Both will be remembered as flops, again at least McClaren had the grace to walk away (although this was less for the club, but more to retain his reputation and not taint it with a failure) That is certainly one thing they share, to be even more maligned than perhaps Kinnear and Megson takes something. I think Platt is more hated, and that’s a lot or retrospect too. Platt’s record was never great, but we weren’t in the clear and present danger we were post McClaren. Don’t get me wrong; Platt led us to the brink of relegation, needing late results to be safe, just in case. It’s more the long term legacy; McClaren was just always bad (even if I did miss two games of his brief tenure.) The simple comparison is both failed, and when you look into it, although the timelines were different it was a very similar story.