Hart pays price as Forest look to halt the sinking feeling

First Division: Relegation threat forces chairman to act as Preston humble second-placed West Brom and Wigan's win breeds discontent at Ipswich
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The Independent Football

The Nottingham Forest chairman, Nigel Doughty, says he will make a managerial appointment "as soon as possible" after sacking Paul Hart after the 1-0 home defeat to Coventry City on Saturday.

Forest's winless streak, having been stretched to 14 First Division games, has seen them sucked into the relegation zone where they lie third from bottom, two points and one place behind Derby County.

"It is always regrettable when it comes to making decisions like this but we feel some action had to be taken," Doughty said. "We feel we have given Paul every chance to try and turn things around but, for one reason or another, the improvement has not been forthcoming. We have 17 League games remaining this season and it is imperative we do everything possible to improve results and stabilise our League position. We will be looking to appoint a manager as soon as possible in order to move the club forward once more."

Hart had been appointed as the Forest manager in July 2001 as successor to David Platt, but with the club continuing to grapple with debts estimated to be in the region of £20m, the 50-year-old had been required to manage on a budget.

After missing out on promotion last season, beaten by Sheffield United in the play-off semi-finals, Forest had made a confident start to the season and won four of their opening six matches. But the goals dried up following the loss of David Johnson to a broken leg and the £500,000 transfer to West Ham United of his striking partner Marlon Harewood.

The Forest defender Brynjar Gunnarsson said news of Hart's departure had come as a shock to the players. "At the start of the season most people, especially the fans, thought we'd be challenging for promotion. We never imagined we'd be where we are in the table at this moment.

"But there has not been any panic in the dressing room because we have always believed we would get results, it is just that we have been unlucky.

"It will be a strange atmosphere at the club next week but these things can happen in football and I had the same thing when I was at Stoke last year when our manager left and it was several weeks before we got a replacement."