NOTTINGHAM Forest are searching for a fifth manager in a little under seven months following Alex McLeish’s departure from the club after only 40 days and seven matches in charge.
McLeish left by mutual consent this morning following mounting speculation about his future at the City Ground. The Scot was left frustrated after missing out on several transfer targets last month – most notably Peterborough winger George Boyd whose move to the East Midlands was scuppered by a failed eye test.
Reports of disagreements behind the scenes with the club’s Kuwaiti owners, the Al-Hasawi family, were also rife.
A bad week for McLeish was capped on Saturday by a 2-1 defeat by his former club, Birmingham City, both Blues goals scored by another player he tried to sign – Chris Burke.
McLeish, who replaced Sean O’Driscoll on 27 December, said via a statement on the club’s website: “I am extremely saddened to be leaving after such a short period. But even so, it has been a privilege to be manager of such a fantastic football club and I want to thank the players, staff and fans for their support and wish Nottingham Forest the best of fortunes ahead.
“Both parties entered into the relationship in good faith. However, there was a difference in the understanding of the development strategy of the football club and it was felt by both parties that we should part company.”
When the Al-Hasawis completed their takeover of the club on 10 July, 2012 they outlined a three-year vision to get Forest back into the Barclays Premier League.
They began by sacking Steve Cotterill, who had just saved the club from relegation from the npower Championship, within days of their arrival.
O’Driscoll, who coached under former boss Steve McClaren at Forest, was brought back as number one but sacked on Boxing Day after a 4-2 home win over Leeds which left the Reds just one point adrift of the play-off places.
The surprising decision to sack O’Driscoll was followed by the Kuwaitis stating their intent to appoint a manager with Premier League experience.
Former Birmingham and Aston Villa boss McLeish was hired the next day but the Scot, in a brief 40-day tenure, won only one of his seven matches in charge and lost four.
Reds chairman Fawaz Al-Hasawi said: “I’m bitterly disappointed – as is Alex – that it has not worked out as we had hoped when he became our manager and I would like to put on record my thanks for his services to the club and wish him every success in the future.”
McLeish has had mixed fortunes since leaving his post as Scotland manager and joining Birmingham in November 2007, saying he had always wanted to manage in the English Premier League.
Unable to save the Blues from relegation that season, he took them straight back up, achieved the club’s highest league placing for more than 50 years the next season and followed it up by winning the League Cup in February 2011.
But after relegation the same season, he resigned, controversially joining rivals Villa five days later. His contract was terminated when Villa escaped relegation by just two points in his first season.
McLeish’s departure is the latest drama in a turbulent season at the City Ground. Only last month the Al-Hasawi family sacked long-serving chief executive Mark Arthur and dismissed club legend Frank Clark from his ambassadorial role. Chief scout Keith Burt was also sacked.
McLeish leaves Forest 11th in the Championship table and six points adrift of the play-off places ahead of Saturday’s trip to Bristol City, who recently appointed O’Driscoll as manager.