ALEX McLeish last night declared himself refreshed and raring to go as he looked forward to reviving the fortunes of Nottingham Forest after being appointed as the Midlands club’s new manager yesterday.
The former Scotland manager had been out of work since being dismissed by Aston Villa in May, after finishing just two points above the relegation zone in the Premier League.
But the 53-year-old, who will be presented to the media following training this morning, welcomed the opportunity to return to management at a club lying eighth in the npower Championship.
“I’m really looking forward to working with Nottingham Forest,” McLeish told the club’s website. “I’ve had time away from the game and now feel refreshed and ready to go.
“The fact that a club of Forest’s magnitude has offered me a job excites me greatly. It’s a wonderful opportunity.
“I can’t wait to get started and I’m looking forward to meeting the players, talking to them and taking my first training session.”
Having managed Motherwell, Hibernian and Rangers before his nine-month stint in charge of the Scottish national side, McLeish then made his mark in English club football after taking charge at Birmingham in 2007.
Although he failed to save the club from relegation from the top flight in May 2008, he guided the Blues back to the Premier League the following season and secured a ninth-placed finish.
Victory in the Carling Cup final against Arsenal followed in February 2011, after which Birmingham’s league form suffered and they were relegated at the end of the season. McLeish left Birmingham amid acrimony to take charge of Villa but lasted just one season at the helm of Blues’ bitter rivals after narrowly avoiding another relegation.
Forest raised eyebrows with their decision to part company with previous manager Sean O’Driscoll just hours after he had guided them to an impressive 4-2 home win over Leeds on Boxing Day. O’Driscoll, who left Crawley in the summer to take over at the City Ground, departed with the club just a point outside the Championship play-off zone, but that was not deemed good enough by the club’s Kuwaiti owners, who admitted their timing was not ideal.
Chairman Fawaz Al Hasawi said: “With the January transfer window approaching, we feel it’s the right time to make a change.
“The timing of our decision may look a little odd after the win over Leeds but sometimes you need to make changes with the long-term future in mind.
“Sometimes those changes need to be made from a position of strength rather than weakness and that is what we are trying to do.
“We are looking to bring in an ambitious manager with Premier League experience.”
Al Hasawi admitted the decision was tough on O’Driscoll.
He said: “We cannot speak highly enough of Sean as a man.
“He was appointed at an extremely difficult time for the club and can count himself unlucky to have lost his job with the team just one point away from the top six. But we have a responsibility to look to the future for this great club because we have huge ambitions for it.
“We knew when we bought the club in the summer that it would take time for the players we bought in to settle but that process has taken longer than we anticipated.
“We feel we have developed a really strong squad of players but are still searching for consistency in terms of team performance, underlined by the fact that we have not won more than two games in succession in the Championship this season.
“And, with the January transfer window approaching, we feel it’s the right time to make a change.”
The statement concluded: “The club will be making no further comment at this time.”
Forest striker Billy Sharp, who turned the match against Leeds around with two goals, responded to O’Driscoll’s shock departure by tweeting: “gutted that ruins a decent day”.