Nottingham Forest fans in backlash as Alex McLeish takes over


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The Independent Football

A whirlwind 24 hours at Nottingham Forest was capped tonight when Alex McLeish was appointed their surprise new manager – but he is already facing a fan backlash at the City Ground.

The 53-year-old replaces Sean O'Driscoll only a day after the latter's sacking despite his team having recorded a 4-2 victory over Leeds United just hours earlier, leaving Forest eighth and a point off the play-offs.

The Forest chairman, Fawaz al-Hasawi, had vowed to bring into the Championship club an "ambitious manager with Premier League experience". Yet disenchanted Reds supporters last night took to Twitter to vent their frustration towards Hasawi for hiring McLeish.

With O'Driscoll having restored the club's footballing traditions with his attractive style of play, Forest supporters have reservations about the former Scotland manager's reputation for pragmatism.

The Scot proved unpopular at Aston Villa, where he lasted a solitary season, although his cause was not helped by his having managed rivals Birmingham City, Villa finished last season two points above the Premier League relegation zone and with a win percentage of just 18.

In a local newspaper poll earlier in the day asking supporters who they would like to be Forest's next manager, McLeish failed to get a single vote, with the former Chelsea manager Roberto Di Matteo the preferred choice.

Upon his appointment, McLeish said: "I'm really looking forward to working with Nottingham Forest. I've had time away from the game and now feel refreshed and ready to go. The fact that a club of Forest's magnitude has offered me a job excites me greatly – it's a wonderful opportunity.

"I can't wait to get started and I'm looking forward to meeting the players, talking to them and taking my first training session."

McLeish took charge at Birmingham in 2007 and failed to save the club from relegation from the top flight in May 2008. He guided Blues back to the Premier League the following season and secured a ninth-placed finish.

Victory in the Carling Cup final against Arsenal followed in February 2011, after which Birmingham's league form suffered and they were relegated. McLeish then left Birmingham amid acrimony to take charge of Villa.

McLeish, who will be introduced to his new squad today and lead training ahead of tomorrow's visit by Crystal Palace, can expect significant funds for the January transfer window, with the Forest board eager to make a push for the Premier League. Hasawi said: "Alex is hungry for more success and I believe he's the man who can help us fulfil our ambition of making it to the Premier League."