A Nottingham Forest exit from a Derby County perspective

He’s been shown the door at Nottingham Forest, but just what is it about Billy Davies that infuriates those around him? Derby County supporter Joel Clyne explains…

When Billy Davies was appointed manager of Nottingham Forest back in January 2009, a chuckle or two was shared between Derby fans. Welcome to the Billy Davies show.

There can be no question of the Scot’s calibre as a manager. In the full seasons he has taken charge of second tier clubs, Davies has never failed to finish in the play-off places. His sides, on average, have scored over 64 goals per season and conceded less than 45 to produce a win percentage of 46.9%. With performances as such, you would expect him to have obtained close to hero status at his previous clubs. But this has not been the case.

Upon his move from Preston to Derby in the summer of 2006 he was deemed a money-grabber by the North End faithful. He is held in similar regard at Derby, where it is he who shoulders the majority of the blame for the club’s disastrous season in the Premier League despite being in charge for only 14 games. It remains to be seen how he is remembered at Nottingham Forest.

The problem fans have with Davies is this: he gives the impression he is bigger than the club, everything revolves around him, and everybody else can take a supporting role.

It does not help that the Scot continually refers to himself in third person, while the repetitive post match interviews became tedious and the fights he picks, usually in the public domain, seemed to the detriment of his past clubs.

For instance, during his first season at Derby, the club was sitting in an automatic promotion position at the beginning of January and at the time strolling towards the Premier League. Davies insisted to the board of directors that the squad needed additions to ensure promotion. In the January window, Davies spent close to £4million on five players, dislodging the balance of the squad – subsequently, previously excellent form went out of the window.

If you were to split that season into thirds, the evidence is there for all to see. After Davies was appointed in the summer, he signed seven players permanently and sold four. In the first 15 games, the Rams got off to an average start and won 40% of their games. Considering there had been major changes at the club both on and off the field, the patchy results were understandable. In the following 15 games up until the January transfer window, Derby won 80% of their matches, however. After the new additions had arrived, the team went back to their sub-standard 40% win ratio.

A similar pattern arose when he was at Forest. In his first full season in charge at the City Ground, the team’s win percentage in the opening third of the season stood at 40%, exactly the same as his record at Derby. His record in the final third of the season stands at 43.75%, again almost identical as his spell while at Pride Park.

Billy Davies sides peak during the middle period of the season and drop off towards the business end. This perhaps explains why, five out of six times, he has failed in the play-offs.

Back to the original point, though – there is, and always will be, baggage with Davies. He engineered his way out of Pride Park by making his position untenable shortly after securing himself a bumper new contract. Whilst at Forest there were the constant ramblings about the acquisition panel and the need for “stellar signings” to gain promotion. Had Davies forgotten that he had acquired a significant transfer budget when he was appointed as manager?

And surely these tiresome pre-match comments and post-match interviews for Monday’s back page did no favours for team morale?

Then, even before seeing his side knocked out by Swansea in the play-off semi-final, the Scot released a bizarre pre-match statement about his future and asked reporters to first consult his lawyer before heading to the City Ground.

Davies has previous for this, though. He used the same trick when he guided Derby to the Premier League. Instead of letting the fans bask in the glory of victory at Wembley, he made sure that everyone would sing along to his hymn sheet.

And that is what you’ll get with Billy Davies – an outstanding Championship manager, but one that lacks class and grace. Which set of fans will next be tuning in for another re-run of the Billy Davies Show?

The Seventy Two
The Seventy Two published an outstanding series of articles about the Football League between 2010-12 and was the brainchild of Leicester City fan, David Bevan. As well as collaborating with The Two Unfortunates on the Football League Blog Network and a mammoth 2011-12 season preview, the site featured a host of leading bloggers and David was rewarded with a nomination in the 2011 Football Supporters’ Federation awards. Latterly, he was joined as co-editor by Joe Harrison and TTU is happy to present this archive of the site’s output.


  1. Husky Red
    July 1, 2011

    Some truth in the article, especially the slow start and late fade. Having said that, the issues at forest did include playing the second half of 9/10 and the play-offs both years with no left back, and errors from out of position fill ins certainly cost us.

    A look at the Market value of the squad BD left shows forest had quality, but not depth or team balance. It is hard to know whether we’d have got Findlay and Tudgay without his lobbying. We have experience of a manager -Paul Hart- who took the “grin and bear it” approach when the board weakened a prem challenging side, and it all ended in tears, so we were forgiving of his hussling for more signings.

    Did BD cause your prem woes? Well he started slowly-but as you point out he always does. I think he is a better manager for the raw deal he feels derby gave him -as with BC after failure at Leeds – he went on to do very well.

    The brand of football we’ve played the last 2 seasons has, at our best, been outatanding and a hugely welcome return after some negative tactics and stuttering long ball. For that we have to credit Billy, Ned and the team.

    One thing is certain. Billy is not a manager for a club without deep pockets.

  2. Jeff Heff
    July 1, 2011

    Very interesting article, proving not all derby fans are thick! With Billy you get what you get, a top class manager but a low class person. He wants to manage the world XI – yesterday. I am still sad to see the back of him, he does tell it how it is with bone touching realism, and this is his downfall. How many times can you publically criticise your employer until you are shown the door?

    Unlike PNE and DCFC though I think he will be given a heroes welcome next time he is at the city ground, having taken us from relegation certainties to by far the best side in the east mids. Thank you Sir Billy.

  3. Webbo
    July 1, 2011

    All in all, you either love him or hate him.

    I did not like him before, during or even now he has left the club. He split the fans, and i give him his due, in his favour. I’m gald to see the back of him. When things go well, it was all down to him. When they went badly, it was the AP panel or the young inexperienced players who were at fault. After all “this is a very young team, and I’ve said it before, and I’ll keep on repeating it Colin. This team is still on a learning curve”

    Yeah, alright Billy. you did a job but it just wasn’t quite good enough.

  4. Tom
    July 1, 2011

    Very interesting read. When Billy was sacked last month, I was stunned initially, but slowly a wave of relief began to wash over me. It actually felt like I was stood in East Germany the moment the wall came down. All this uncertainty about Billy had finally been put to rest and as a fan, I felt I could begin to move forward.

    He’s done great things for Forest, I’ll give you that. However, the constant pissiness with the media just annoyed the grapes outta me.

  5. Nottingham Forest (since 1865) | Looking to the past
    July 1, 2011

    […] interesting look at the departure of Billy Davies from one of our “woolly […]

  6. Burnsy
    July 7, 2011

    I will never forget the quote about wishing it was Preston he had promoted, on the day we won at Wembley. I had an incling bad things were coming after that and I was right. The man is zero class. Always ‘talk to my lawyers’ and whatever else. The crap trying to charge Nigel Clough and so on. He’s a nasty little man.

    Interesting that the Forest fans think he did ‘great things’ for the club. No doubt, you are playing better football than you have for a long time, but if the Steve McLaren experiment doesn’t pay off can you keep digging deeper into your pockets after the Billy Davies Show? It has taken us 3 years to right the wrongs. I think you got luckier with his spending than we did.

  7. Steve
    December 5, 2011

    Hmmm, you clearly dont know a good manager when you see one, hence the fact you got rid of Sir Brian (thanks for that, your loss, our gain).

    Brian Clough was also someone who thought he was bigger than every club he was at. It’s called taking charge. You clearly have no idea as to how some human beings and some (successful) football clubs work. Sometimes, the best thing in the world is for someone to come in, take over, and everyone rallies around him. Its a way of creating a focal point for everyone to gather around. A way of bringing people together to one cause. When you are left with no misunderstanding as to who the boss is, it suddenly free’s you up to do your job. Thats all you then have to worry about. The boss will take care of everything else.

    Thats how Brian managed, and thats how Billy manages. If you dont agree with that approach in the latter, then you must also not agree with that approach from Brian. Hence why you got rid of him. Hence why we benfitted from that. He became our club. Nobody was bigger than Brian Clough at Nottingham Forest, nobody. That was half of the reason for his success, once you take charge you are able to do things and get away with things that no other manager could get away with, and that leads to further success.

    You wouldnt know good management technique if it bit you on the backside. Some people have to take charge. Some people have to be the focal point of everything that happens. I think you’ll find that this type of person is more often than not, successful. Alex Ferguson, another one who is the focal point of his club.

    You know nothing really do you? Okay so Billy was’nt as successful as either Clough or Ferguson but thats because he has’nt found himself a club where he is allowed to take over. Once he does, he will have success.

  8. The Football League in 2011 – A review of the 72: Part 2 of 2 » The Seventy Two
    December 31, 2011

    […] second half of the year began with Joel Clyne’s look at a Nottingham Forest exit from a Derby County perspective, giving an interesting angle on the departure of Billy […]


Leave a Reply to Webbo

Cancel Reply