Megson relishes chance to follow Clough legacy

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The Independent Football

Taking over a club next to bottom of the Championship and six points from safety might be considered a brave move for any manager with a reputation to protect. But Gary Megson had more personal reasons to think twice about accepting the role as the new man in charge at Nottingham Forest.

This, after all, was the place where a previous period of employment had ended, after only three months, with him being told he should never have been hired in the first place.

Such was life as a player under Brian Clough for Gary Megson, signed from Sheffield Wednesday for £175,000 in August 1984, sold to Newcastle for £130,000 in November of the same year, having made not even one first-team appearance.

"When you make a mistake the best remedy is to admit it and try to get rid," Clough recalled, some years later. At the time, he was even more forthright, sending Megson on his way, with typical sensitivity, with the words: "He couldn't trap a bag of sand."

"At the time, I was pleased to be leaving, to be honest," Megson said yesterday. "I did not enjoy being here and I was disappointed because I did not show myself in the best light. But these things happen, and I did recover as a player in the top flight with Manchester City, Sheffield Wednesday, Newcastle and Norwich."

The experience may even have shaped him as the non-nonsense manager he has become. Moreover, rather than be disrespectful of the man who put Forest into football legend, which was one criticism laid at the door of his predecessor, Joe Kinnear, Megson says Forest should embrace the heritage Clough bequeathed and try to live up to it.

Unveiled as the latest of the late maestro's successors in the Forest trophy room, the place within the City Ground where the weight of tradition is so great the floorboards almost creak with it, he insisted the club should take pride in its past.

"When a club is not doing well there is a tendency to focus on the past and on the future and not to deal with the here and now," he said. "But this club has a great history and it is not something to be frightened of, it is something we should try to emulate. It is not something you should harp on about but neither is it something you should dismiss. In fact, it is part of the job's attraction."

Of most concern now to Megson, who has a two and a half year contract, is the immediate future, which sees Forest, struggling with debts and vulnerable to predatory interest in Andy Reid and Michael Dawson, with 18 matches in which to preserve their Championship status.

"The situation is not critical but it is serious," he said. "It is worse than when I took over at West Brom in that there is a gap between where we are now and safety but if you look at the squad and the League position the two do not go together.

"I don't know yet what the problem is but whatever needs to be done will be done."

Megson had been out of work for two months, having been sacked by West Bromwich, where he won promotion to the Premiership twice but had a difficult relationship with the chairman, Jeremy Peace. He comes with Frank Burrows as his number two, as he was at The Hawthorns. Mick Harford, who had been in temporary charge since Joe Kinnear resigned last month, leaves Forest, along with the coach, Des Walker.