O’Driscoll in for Cotterill at Forest?

Posted by on Apr 18, 2012 in Uncategorized | 11 Comments
O’Driscoll in for Cotterill at Forest?
Image available under Creative Commons © 1967Geezer

Amid all the hubbub surrounding Reading’s magnificent promotion, I was more than quietly impressed by the performance of Nottingham Forest at the Madejski Stadium last night.

However, if you are trying to tell me that the smooth operators that graced the Mad Stad turf are piloted according to Steve Cotterill’s instructions while a certain Sean O’Driscoll is stationed behind the scenes, then you’ll be telling me that Bruce Rioch laid the groundwork for Arsà¨ne Wenger at the Arsenal.

Forest uncannily resembled the Doncaster Rovers of 2006-2011, albeit at less of a cut price — the astonishing entry into the action of Andy Reid, Marcus Tudgay and Jonathan Greening underlining the riches at the management team’s disposal.

Nowhere was the O’Driscoll method more evident than in central midfield. Lewis McGugan can blow hot and cold but was pivotal on the night. Behind him, Adlà¨ne Guedioura was a revelation to me — my first opportunity to see the Algerian — a man who appears to combine the holding role with a crisp line in elegant passing and reminding me of the advantages Brian Stock brought to Doncaster.

Paul Anderson’s star has perhaps faded after his initial emergence as one of the Football League’s most auspicious young talents, but his comfort with the ball to feet was reminiscent of James Coppinger at the Keepmoat — this kind of darting, impish winger is a fundamental part of the coach’s credo.

Ditto RadosÅ‚aw Majewski, author of a spectacular hat trick at Crystal Palace and revelling in the classic number 10 position, while Chris Gunter completed a midfield quintet, standing in well for this Spring’s headline maker Garath McCleary despite his origins as a full back.

Behind them, a rejuvenated Luke Chambers has come through a difficult season, easily overcoming the surprise departure of long time partner Wes Morgan, and thriving here alongside Joel Lynch. Young Manchester United right back Scott Wootton and Wolves enforcer George Elokobi also made regular contact with the link-up play — the latter almost scoring with a thunderous overhead.

That leaves two potential problem areas for the Tricky Trees — Lee Camp was just fine on the night as Reading struggled to pierce the back four — but has continued to sulk at his non-move to Swansea last Summer while up front, the club possesses a bevy of forwards, none of whom can find any kind of consistency.

Dexter Blackstock was chosen — a long spell out of the team perhaps presenting him as the best default option at a time when the hard working Tudgay, Ishmael Miller, David McGoldrick, Matt Derbyshire, Marlon Harewood and Robbie Findley have all under performed.

A new face is needed of course — but that embarrassment of options is acute and players in all areas of the squad need to be moved on before the rebuilding can commence — I haven’t even mentioned George Boateng.

Steve McClaren’s tenure at the City Ground seems like a lifetime ago now — but its legacy is still with the club. Cotterill has ultimately done a job in keeping Forest up, but coming only a year after running the Swans close in the play offs, and given the resource base, this successful survival attempt can only be for starters. Would it be as harsh as it might first seem to ask the ex-Cheltenham man to step aside for his lieutenant?

Rob Langham
Rob Langham is co-founder of the defiantly non-partisan football league blog, The Two Unfortunates, a website that occasionally strays into covering issues of wider importance. He's 50 and lives in Oxford while retaining his boyhood support of Reading FC. He tweets as @twounfortunates and has written for a number of websites and publications including The Inside Left, When Saturday Comes, In Bed with Maradona, Futbolgrad and The Blizzard as well as being nominated for the Football Supporters' Federation Blogger of the Year Award in 2013.


  1. Old Red
    April 18, 2012

    Interesting observation but a tad unfair on Cotterill about whom many knowledgeable Forest fans are now eating humble pie.

    He inherited an unbalanced squad full of non performing expensive players like Miller,McGoldrick, McGugan, Camp etc. He did not have his own backroom team but instead a hotch potch of ineffective yes men whom McClaren had surrounded himself with and who Forest could not afford to pay off. His squad were disillusioned at unfair pay differentials between the likes of Reid, Greening,Miller on one hand and Chambers, McCleary on the other. He had a squad not motivated, not interested and drifting.

    Above him he had a fool of a chief executive who had lost Forest vital player targets like Pratley and Whittingham by changing details of contracts at the last minute. A man whose tinkering and interference had cost Forest a stand out Manager in Billy Davies and who was hated by players and fans alike. A man who had goaded the Forest faithful publicly and whose word was driving the faithful away.SC and Frank Clark had a thankless task!

    However whilst SC is tactically inept he can spot a player which led to Elokobi, Wootton, Higginbotham and Guedioura coming in. This created competition, rebalanced the squad and introduced a winning and professional attitude which shamed certain factions of the dressing room.

    Introduce to that the tactical acumen of Sean O’Driscoll and yes a team was reborn. Note though that the likes of Guedioura and McCleary praise Cotterrill for his man management and support. So what if Sean helps out as number 2? After all arguably Cloughie was at his best with Taylor alongside him and that is a pretty special duo to aspire to!

  2. Lanterne Rouge
    April 18, 2012

    Thank you very much for your thoughtful comments Old Red – it could be true that the man management of Cotterill coupled with O’Driscoll’s tactical acumen could be a good blend based on their friendship and chemistry from working at Bournemouth together. If Cotterill really has abandoned ‘cotterball’ (and by last night’s evidence, that would appear to be the case), then fair play to the man.

  3. Mr Mojo
    April 18, 2012

    While the press were rightly full of Reading’s return to the promised land (and congratulations on that by the way – I can’t think of a team in the top 6 I’d rather win promotion) its nice to see some recognition that Forest have turned into a half decent team. I think maybe a few months ago this fixture may have been a 4 or 5 nil game for you but the careful introduction of the right loanees and a more balanced squad has paid dividends. You’re right in some respects though – we have started playing better football since Sean O’Driscoll arrived on the scene. Old Red made some very valid points about an extremely unbalanced squad and I think that we could happily sacrifice a number of “forwards” (Miller, Derbyshire, Findley, McGoldrick, Harewood etc) without missing them. Hopefully once the ownership issues are resolved (which will look more favourable now they will be buying a championship rather than league 1 side) Forest may be able to push on and improve. One bit of dvice though – if your chairman ever thinks about appointing Steve McClaren don’t let him.

  4. Trent End T6
    April 18, 2012

    Nice piece and well-observed.

    Sadly many of the names you mention will not be here after the summer break.

    We don’t anticipate having the financial clout to retain all of the loanees, while our out of contract players are undoubtedly talking with other clubs as Forest is unable to make any promises due to the unsettling prospect of new owners (who may even choose their own management team).

    While other teams in the Championship are playing wait-and-see on financial fair play, Forest implemented it unilaterally this season, and as such the terms of the late Nigel Doughty’s departure meant high wages were only covered for the existing contracts of higher paid players, not extrensions or new recruits.

    However, we can hope that the players would rather perform in front of 22,000 appreciative home fans than the pitiful gates in an echoey stadium elsewhere! You never know!

  5. Husky Red
    April 18, 2012

    A good article, although I doubt installing SOD to fly solo is the answer. Cotterill is the one who found the loan signings (as far as we know) and seems to have the man management skills.

    It is overplaying it to recognise too much of Donny in forest’s more fluent passing style these last 3 months, because when Donny and Swansea were stroking it around like Arsenal, Billy Davies’ players (At least 7 of which have been on the pitch each game in the last 3 months) were the other side known for flowing football.

    That said, I do think SOD is an outstanding capture for us. I only hope to God he gets a new contract as I understand the original agreement was just ’til the end of this season.

    April 18, 2012

    Feel that this is slightly offensive towards Cotterill, you are extremely fickle and need to see the bigger picture. Stop putting 2 and 2 together, grow up and start looking at the bigger picture!

  7. Chris
    April 19, 2012

    You could do a hell of a lot worse than have SOD involved. What a man and what a ride we had at Donny. Some of the points you raise sound exactly like the SOD way. If Forest are looking to cut the wage bill a bit too that is no obstruction to Sean for he can make a Championship side out of bobbins. The main thing you need in the Championship is a bloke to put the ball away. We struggled until we got Sharp, and then stuggled without him after his departure. This season has been the worst in terms of quality I have seen from opposing sides, Reading and Blackpool apart, the 20 goal man makes all the difference in the main.

    He and Cloughie are very much alike thinking about it.

  8. Michael
    April 20, 2012

    Interesting. I’m certainly one of those fans (one of a large majority I think) who wanted Cotterill out and who have had to alter their opinions recently. I certainly have a lot more respect for him now and it would be foolish to suggest that he has had nothing to do with our recent mini-revival. On the other hand, it would be equally wrong to absolve him of any blame for our diabolical run of form earlier this season, despite the difficult situation he inherited. Whatever he might claim now, there were some staggeringly bad performances with him in charge. Things have clearly improved since SOD came on board and long may that continue. SC though has very little credit in the bank and the worry for him must be that he’s only ever going to be a couple of bad results away from losing the fans again.

    All of this anyway is secondary to the ownership situation. I think all Forest fans can agree on one thing: please let it be sorted out as quickly as possible (and may the deal include a P45 for Mark Arthur).

  9. John Mc
    April 20, 2012

    Yeah, LR you big 43 year old – you need to grow up lad! You big old troll you!


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