Four hours of confusion, contradictions, rumour and denials after the final whistle, Nottingham Forest confirmed that Steve McClaren had resigned as manager after just 111 days in charge.
The club, which after being beaten by Birmingham, lies fourth from bottom of the Championship, also announced owner Nigel Doughty would resign as chairman at the end of the season after 10 years in the role.
The statement said McClaren had left the club without compensation and would not be seeking any. It added that Doughty would continue to support Forest financially, and that a search for a new chairman – and presumably manager – would begin immediately.
McClaren is understood to have made his decision to resign before the game. On Friday he is believed to have asked the Forest board to sanction the loan of two players, the Wolves midfielder Michael Kightly, and the Leicester winger Lloyd Dyer, only to be turned down on grounds of the cost of their wages.
Last Tuesday Forest were beaten 5-1 at Burnley, and McClaren sent his players out early for the second half. The day after that defeat, Forest confirmed that former Spurs manager David Pleat had stood down from his part-time football consultant role, and that performance director Bill Beswick was also leaving the club.
It became clear a change was likely when McClaren and Doughty met after this match, during which Forest led 1-0 through an Ishmael Miller goal and were in control before two late Chris Wood goals and a Chris Burke strike gave Birmingham victory. Doughty emerged to tell journalists McClaren was still manager, and suggested any questions should be addressed to McClaren. However McClaren was understood to have been instructed not to comment.
For an hour of the game, all had gone swimmingly. A pre-match protest targeted at the club's board, rather than McClaren, had proved something a damp squib, not least because some bright spark had thought it appropriate to base it around fireworks on the sunniest October day since records began.
On the pitch, a cautious and tired Birmingham team was giving Forest what they needed, time to play without pressure. The collapse that followed was stunning, and that it occurred after McClaren had made a substitution, taking off Radoslaw Majewski – who had been combining well with Lewis McGugan in the Forest midfield – and bringing on Jonathan Greening, did not escape the furious Forest fans.
Nor did the fact he had essentially played four centre-halves across the back, and once Birmingham manager Chris Houghton took off the statuesque Nikola Zigic and brought on strikers with pace, Forest's defence was brutally exposed. A second, longer, protest followed the game, though again it was aimed at the board.
From the point of view of his managerial career, resigning without compensation may prove to have been a wise decision by McClaren, who has frequently claimed the parameters of the position which were set when he took on the role at Forest in June have changed.
Previous Forest playing favourites Martin O'Neill and Roy Keane are already being touted as possible replacements, but whether either would be interested in working with the club's current regime seems unlikely.
Nottingham Forest (4-3-3) Camp; Chambers, Morgan, Lynch, Hill (Gunter, 83); Miller (Findley, 65), Majewski (Greening, 63), McGugan, Moussi, Derbyshire; Tudgay. Subsitutes not used Smith (gk), Reid.
Birmingham City (4-5-1) Myhill, Spector (Murphy, 11), Ibanez, Caldwell, Ridgwell; Burke, Gomis, Fahey, Elliott (wood, 59), Beausejour; Zigic (King, 59). Subsitutes not used Doyle (gk), Redmond.
Referee M Haywood (Cheshire).Reuse content