'Saddened' Alex McLeish walks away from Nottingham Forest chaos after 41 days
Adkins and Davies are favourites for job as Scot blames differences with owners for hasty exit
Nottingham Forest are searching for another new manager after Alex McLeish walked out of the post, just 41 days after the fanfare that greeted his appointment. "I believe he's the man who can help us fulfil our ambition of making it to the Premier League," the chairman, Fawaz al-Hasawi, had said on that day, 27 December.
McLeish left his position after the final three of the 41 days of his reign had been spent negotiating an exit strategy that would suit both parities. Billy Davies, Nigel Adkins and Roy Keane have emerged as the favourites to succeed the 53-year-old Scot. Since Davies left the City Ground in June 2011, four men have followed. In 20 months, a football club which has won the European Cup twice, will have had five managers.
"I am extremely saddened to be leaving after such a short period but even so it has been a privilege to be manager of such a fantastic football club," McLeish said in a statement.
"Both parties entered into the relationship in good faith. However, there was a difference in the understanding of the development strategy of the football club and it was felt by both parties that we should part company. I want to wish Nottingham Forest the best of fortunes ahead."
Forest won one of the seven games that McLeish was in charge for, but the grounds for separation developed in the recent transfer window, during which the new manager felt undermined. New players did not arrive, members of staff left. McLeish was peripheral.
The attempt to sign Chris Burke from Birmingham City failed because Forest would not up their initial offer from £300,000. George Boyd's potential move from Peterborough fell through at the last minute when, after a lengthy medical, he was judged to have failed an eye test.
In the midst of all this was a letter sent to Keith Burt, Nottingham Forest's head of recruitment, that McLeish did not know of, putting Burt on gardening leave. That his wife opened the letter from the club as Burt was in a scouts' meeting said much for the behind-the-scenes chaos that proved unfathomable for McLeish.
Sean O'Driscoll, his predecessor, had himself only been in charge for five months, during which time Forest had moved to within touching distance of the Championship play-offs. The Kuwaiti owners of the club, the Hasawi family, had been keen to replace O'Driscoll with a manager with Premier League experience.
That opened the door for a return to management for McLeish, who endured a difficult season at Aston Villa after he had been in charge of rivals Birmingham. However, he felt undermined by the approach of the owners and was ready to leave after Saturday's defeat against his old club Birmingham when Burke, the player he was so keen to sign, had scored both goals in Forest's 2-1 defeat.
"I'm bitterly disappointed, as is Alex, it has not worked out," said Fawaz al-Hasawi. "I would like to put on record my thanks for his services and wish him every success in the future."
Shortest reigns: Brief managers
Bill Lambton Three days (Scunthorpe United, 1959)
Decided to take up a coaching role at the club shortly after verbally agreeing to be manager.
Dave Bassett Four days (Crystal Palace, 1984)
Never signed his managerial contract, and a quick change of heart saw him return to Wimbledon.
Kevin Cullis Seven days (Swansea, 1996)
Lasted just two defeats, conceding five goals.
Leroy Rosenior 10 minutes (Torquay United, 2007)
Rosenior was replaced within minutes of a local consortium taking over the club.
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