Wednesday, 12 August 2015

The Definition of Insanity..., apparently, continuing to do the same thing over and over but expecting different results. I guess that makes me insane then, as I continue to watch Nottingham Forest lurch from one shambles to another, but expect (well, hope) that things will get better.

In February, just after Stuart Pearce had been sacked as manager, I wrote this. In it I bemoaned the unprofessional way in which Fawaz al Hasawi had been running the club, highlighted at the time by a high-profile (virtual) tongue-lashing by Peterborough United chairman Daragh MacAnthony over our late payment of an instalment for Britt Assombalonga.

So, has anything changed since then? Regrettably, it seems not. Until a couple of weeks ago it was looking like, on the field, things this close-season were going well (I'll come to off the field later). Three good free signings had been made, in the form of Matt Mills, Jamie Ward and Daniel Pinillos, and the season-long loan of goalkeeper Ben Hamer had also been wrapped up. A number of huge drains on the playing wage bill had been removed. Bids for our prize assets of Michail Antonio and Henri Lansbury had been rebuffed and two of our brightest young prospects - Tyler Walker and Oliver Burke - had been signed up to long-term contracts. But since then...

The Hamer deal has fallen through, due to the club trying to be a bit too cute in their attempts to bypass the FFP regulations and falling foul of the Football League. Pinillos still hasn't been cleared to play (though the club may not be at fault for this) and a bid for Lansbury was apparently accepted, only for the club to backtrack later in the day and deny it. It now seems almost inevitable that Lansbury will join one of our divisional rivals before the transfer window closes, and if the rumoured fee of £4m turns out to be correct it'll mean that, although we'll have made a profit on the player, we won't be able to spend a penny of it. Oh, and we've lost both our opening matches too.

Off the field.....well, where to start? With the further winding up orders perhaps? Or the fact that - once again - the club seems to have failed to secure an external shirt sponsor. The length of time that the club shop and online store updates took, the inability to make the away shirt available for sale before the start of the season and the relative lateness of season tickets being available to collect may not all be huge issues. However they probably should have been handled better and they're symptomatic of the general backroom chaos which seems to be prevalent at the club.

We've now appointed former Club England managing director Adrian Bevington as a part-time advisor to the owner, which seems a wise move. But it's a pointless exercise if his advice isn't heeded - and there's currently no indications to suggest that it will be. What advice can he give that hasn't been suggested a number of times already anyway? That Fawaz should employ experienced and competent football people - NOT his personal friends and assistants - and let them get on with their jobs.

It's now got to the point that I just assume things are going to go wrong. As I'm typing this, Swiss striker Michael Frey is edging closer to finalising a season-long loan from Lille. Dougie really wants Frey. Frey wants to come and Lille are happy for him to do so. But I just can't shake the feeling that somehow we'll manage to screw things up. I collected my season tickets yesterday. It was actually a pretty painless process, and that surprised me. I shouldn't be surprised at that - I should expect it.

Many observers have suggested that Fawaz wants to be popular and wants to be loved. Of course he does - we all do to some degree. As the owner of a football club with a rich and (at times) glittering history, the best way to be popular is to run the club professionally and successfully. We're not asking for a third European Cup. We're asking for competence, a plan, a strategy and some hope. At the moment we don't have the first three and we're rapidly losing the fourth. Fawaz has the power to change all that. Will the penny ever drop?

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