One Year in What Have the al-Hasawi’s Achieved?

I’m almost certain I won’t be the only one writing a piece like this today, especially with the recent explosion in the number of blog sites about Forest (when I started 3 years ago there were about 3 others, now there’s many many more). And it’s that proliferation of sites that I think indicates one thing above all with the Kuwaiti’s owning Forest. There’s plenty to talk about.

A year ago we were financially in ruin, and we’d lost a number of top players (for the purpose of this article only I will recognise Luke Chambers as a top player.) We were rudderless ship, listing helplessly. Then came in the al-Hasawi’s.

Now turbulent doesn’t quite cut the first year of their charge, and I say their, because for a while it was more a team effort with Cousin Omar running the show at first. That’s just one of the stories.
Managers have come and gone, Cotterill instantly dismissed, O’Driscoll brought in, looked ok, but dismissed. McLeish came and went in a blink and then Billy Davies came riding back into town to almost save the day.

I think the playoff push is indicative of the year as much as anything, so close, yet just lacking a little something else. We really should never been in the hunt considering where McLeish left us, but in the hunt we were, and in the end we meekly surrendered our spot to Leicester. And that’s what the whole year felt like, bravado, spirit, but just lacking a certain something.

I’m not sure which will be the longest in the memory, my anger at O’Driscoll being sacked, or the disbelief at the whole sorry George Boyd scenario. Ah yes, the anger and vitriol from people at not signing a player lots of people didn’t want. Yes the manner we did it was shoddy, but at the end of the day, what happened isn’t important. It’s only real result was McLeish agreeing to go, but to me that was on the cards anyway.

The biggest event of the season for me was the cull of many behind the scenes staff from Mark Arthur down. Fawaz had clearly decided enough was enough and dispensed of a lot of people he saw as being negative influences. There is also the rumoured suggestion of embezzlement, and certain staff being in cahoots with this.

Enough of a soap opera yet? Well how about the ongoing question of wealth (for me this doesn’t matter how much money he has as long as there is some funding) and the fact bills haven’t been paid. Journalists getting upset with Fawaz because he doesn’t play ball like the old guard did. These journalists have certainly been quiet since all the kerfuffle in January and February. Rob Dorsett all but suggested Fawaz was destroying Forest.

But has he? Far from it, the academy has been strengthened, and with links with an academy in Kuwait, which may or may not produce a star of the future, it shows intent. Fawaz has shown he listens to fans in the whole Bridgford End away fans saga which resulted in no change whatsoever. There has been increased transparency at board level, and the commercial side of the club seems to actually have been woken up and kicked into action.

I almost forgot we now have big screens, and a promise to spruce the ground up a bit, which is more than needed. Just seems before that money was only put where absolutely necessary and the supporter experience wasn’t included in that.

And then there’s signings. Ok a lot of people point out often on short deals and on loan, but they still have got bought in. New contracts handed to Majewski, Blackstock and Cohen meant key players were tied down, rather than like in the past letting them go for nothing (even if McGugan followed that tradition later)

All in all it’s been turbulent, but you know I don’t think I’d regret anything if I was Fawaz. When they took over were looked primed for a struggle. Many pundits tipped us to be in the bottom half, so to have missed narrowly out on the playoffs from where we were a year ago is wonderful. For this reason alone I thank Fawaz, another season of struggle would have been horrific. And the rollercoaster ride merely means I have a lot more to write about for the blog, and it keeps u in the papers. Gone are the rumours we’d have a squad of Middle Eastern players. That was a false rumour. The Venky comparisons have all but disappeared again now, people just seemed desperate for us to fail.

We had a short time to build a squad and we do have the old guard of staff to thank for some of those. But these players aren’t ones to lead us up. And now the challenge is to flesh this squad out to a promotion capable one. That’s Year Two’s challenge for Fawaz. I think he’s up for it.