King Marmite Is Back

Forum member Forest7 gives us his thoughts

The moment has arrived – the appointment that Forest fans has craved and salivated over for 18 months has been made. A hunger has been satisfied – King Billy, or perhaps King Marmite is back.
Loved and loathed, Billy Davies divides opinion like no other Forest manager.  The efforts of the Glaswegian’s incarnation of Forest on the pitch shine amidst a terrible decade for this famous club.  Yet his boisterous and political approach makes others wary of what the future now holds.
I am in the odd position of being a neutral.  I like him more than I should do.  I cannot wait for his return, but fear the future at the same time.  Here are some of positives and negatives that follow Billy, that make him such a divisive figure and I will try to outline where I stand on them:

Relationship with the fans
I have said many times Billy has the “common touch”. Supporters love his demonstrative antics on the touchline. I personally appreciated his efforts to thank supporters after away trips – win, lose or draw, compared to the aloof McClaren or the timid O’Driscoll.  Was Davies trying to get the fans onside against the board? Maybe, but interaction with the fans is rare in today’s football.  Billy will get bums on seats as he’s the people’s choice and that is what has landed him the job once again.

Knowledge of Championship
We are now entering a bizarre era in which managers with little or no English and no experience of the English game are now getting top jobs.  New Southampton manager Mauricio Pochettino had a translator on hand as he took over a relegation battle, while Juande Ramos never really picked up the language at all.  Davies certainly can speak the language, perhaps too well.  He knows the Championship, the club and some of the players very well.  And he’s no puppet either.

Backroom staff
Just as the news of Davies’s appointment broke, so did reports of David Kelly and Julian Darby leaving their respective clubs to return to Nottingham.  I wonder what it is about this difficult character that inspires such loyalty?  I can only guess that these two assistants provide a milder antidote to the explosive Davies – making them a top team.  It is great news the whole team is back and give an insight into Davies away from the microphone.

So, we move on the negatives.  In Davies’s case some of his faults are pretty indefensible. His handling on transfers was his downfall last time.  Managing at this level requires clever signings, under the radar purchases and often a reliance on youngsters or unfashionable stalwarts like Shaun Derry or Leon Britton who know what it takes to win on a Tuesday night in January.  Davies instead targeted a range of star players from other teams on top wages.  They were unrealistic targets and the failure to land them was catastrophic.  The next window will be interesting to say the least.

Young players
Fans who follow the youth team and have the long term in mind are generally aghast at the appointment of Davies.  I can see why to a degree.  Davies showed little interest in bringing in youth players – even though our most promising players such as Matt Thornhill have largely slid into obscurity.  The most disappointing aspect of this however was some of the comments he made about youngsters such as Emile Sinclair.  They were cruel and unhelpful.  However, on the whole the failure to bring through youngsters is an issue across the English game.  Who can blame managers who are sacked after just 40-odd days if the results do not come?  In Billy’s position, it is tough to have any patience or time to develop players with Fawaz looking on expecting promotion.

Davies is of course famous for referring himself in the third person.  Always a worrying trait.  Football management is no ordinary workplace.  Faced with the task of controlling 25 highly paid young men, used to being the best of the best growing up and all wanting 11 places in the team for Saturday needs a strong character.  Often unpleasant too.  The greats such as Brian Clough and Alex Ferguson do not suffer from a lack of confidence.  Mourinho has an enormous ego and once prodded a Bracelona coach in the eye.  This is type of person that so often succeeds. Billy is cut from the same cloth personality-wise but I don’t see it being an issue with players.  He even coaxed a consistent season out of Lewis McGugan, which seems a near miracle these days!  Davies can motivate and inspire loyalty.

At 2:55pm on Saturday, 16 February the King will return. Most will acclaim him, many will cringe and some may not even attend.  For me, I am looking forward to it immensely, although once the whistle blows I have no idea where the next stage in the Billy Davies journey will take us.  At least some hope is back and really that is what football supporting is all about.  Many have claimed that the club has lost its identity and soul.  It has in a way, but the one man who came closest to reawakening it is back, even if he’s the last thing some would want on their morning toast.
Paul Severn