Paul Newman: Davies' revival of Forest gets bogged down in committee

The Football League Column: If the club's refusal to pay over the odds for players is admirable, the manager's frustrations are clear

For those of us of a certain age it would be a gimme of a quiz question, but if you are under 40 then you might well struggle to answer it. In the last 30 years, which is the only club other than Milan to have successfully defended the European Cup or the Champions League?

Multiple champions in that period include Barcelona (three wins), Liverpool (three), Real Madrid (three), Juventus (two), Manchester United (two) and Porto (two), but no one but Italy's Rossoneri, who won in 1989 and 1990, can match Nottingham Forest's achievement in triumphing two years in succession. Brian Clough's men did so in 1979 and 1980, defeating Malmo and Hamburg 1-0 in Munich and Madrid respectively.

Sadly for the City Ground faithful, however, another statistic relating to Europe's premier club competition emphasises how far they have fallen. Since Real Madrid won the first European Cup in 1956, a total of 21 clubs have been crowned champions. Forest are the only club among them not currently playing in the top division in their own country.

As the decades go by, the number of books, films and documentaries about the Clough era seem to increase in inverse proportion to Forest's chances of recapturing their former glories. It is now 11 years since the 145-year-old club – lest we forget, one of the oldest in the world – played in the Premier League.

Last season, when Forest finished in third place in the Championship before losing to Blackpool in the play-off semi-finals, offered the best hope of a return to the top flight since Paul Hart's team fell at the same hurdle in 2003. After a dodgy start, Billy Davies' men, having just avoided relegation the previous summer, went 19 matches without defeat from the end of September and were in one of the automatic promotion places by the end of January.

However, eight defeats in their last 19 games sent Forest into the play-offs. That form has continued this season: after 15 matches, they have just four wins under their belt and lie 14th in the table.

Davies insisted at the start of this year that his directors need to build on their good run by bringing in new players in the upcoming January transfer window. He has been banging a similar drum ever since.

Under their chairman, Nigel Doughty, Forest have entrusted their recruitment policy to an "acquisitions committee". Davies has identified players he would like to sign, but attempts to complete the transfers have met with disappointment. During the summer, having failed to land Cardiff's Peter Whittingham and Swansea's Darren Pratley, Forest's only significant arrivals were Ryan Bertrand, who joined on loan from Chelsea, and Radoslaw Majewski, who made his loan move from Polonia Warsaw permanent.

If the club's refusal to pay over the odds for players is admirable, the manager's frustrations are clear. "Because of the lack of expansion when we were on a high point, then what you see is what you get with this team," Davies said after Saturday's 1-1 draw at Watford. "We are not a top-six side and for anybody to think we are is like comparing that to Britain ruling the world as far as I'm concerned. We are what we are, we're getting what we're getting. I can ask no more of this team.

"I compare ourselves with Liverpool, for example, where you can't blame the previous manager, you can't blame the current manager, but the facts are if you want to be a top-six side in the Premier League, if you want to be a top-six side in the Championship, then you have got to, in my opinion, bring in stellar signings to keep the club moving forward."

Forest have just 17 goals to show from their first 15 games and have the worst scoring record in the division outside the bottom six. Apart from the midfielder Lewis McGugan, who scored his eighth goal of the season on Saturday, Dexter Blackstock, with four goals to his name, is the only Forest player who has scored more than once this season.

It will probably do little to cheer Forest hearts to see what is happening a few miles away down the A52. After six wins from eight games, Derby County are up to fourth place in the table. It just goes to show what a Clough can do for a club.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee