Copa 90 banned for a well-produced video glossing over the glory years at Nottingham Forest, that was deemed not to have focused on those in the new regime, but rather Nigel Doughty. Former Reds player David Johnson, who is father to young Forest starlet Brennan Johnson, blasting the club's hierarchy on social media, before the tweet was deleted hours later after picking up considerable traction. And, a new CEO that has conducted more interviews than his predecessor and the club owner, in just his two-month spell thus far on Trentside.
These bear just the start of a list of problems filtering down from the top of Nottingham Forest football club, that are leeching on and dragging everything else down, leaving a genuine feel of disconnect with those involved with the Sky Bet Championship's current bottom placed club.
The annual stick or twist
It's that time of year. Nottingham Forest's expected annual spin of the managerial merry-go-round, to find the man that can unlock the optimum potential from the Reds and end a 23-year exile from the Premier League.
In truth, Forest are closer to exiting out of the Championship from the relegation trapdoor at this moment in time.
The Reds are a problematic outfit, but an interesting prospect every campaign nonetheless, given the unpredictability they throw up.
The revolving door policy of managers and players has plagued Forest, but the appointment of CEO Dane Murphy in the summer just passed, is a ploy to change that formula, on the basis of a new identity and strategy.
7th October 2020. A day that Nottingham Forest gazed up at the 22 teams above them, from the relegation zone after four successive Championship defeats. The appointment of new manager Chris Hughton at the helm was a welcomed one among the supporters, which is a narrative flipped entirely on its head, as a growing contingent of those associated with the club shake their head at the lacklustre opening to the 2021/22 campaign.
Unfortunately, like many managers that have come and gone through the doors at the City Ground, the hope of parachuting Forest into the desirable promotion spots of the second tier, looks increasingly likely to have passed Hughton by.
With an unwanted 12 game winless run that stretches back to last season’s victory against QPR, Hughton’s 25% win ratio yielded since taking over as boss, has left fans unconfident that percentage, and league position will rise.
An unwanted, unexpected and telling post war low
The Reds find themselves marooned at the bottom of the Championship, reflecting on their worst start to a league campaign for 108 years. A worrying statistic that highlights the dejected mood on the banks of the Trent, at present.
108 years. Two world wars. Two Champions Leaguetriumphs. Three then non-established clubs, who now join Forest as fellow Championship sides.
Three examples of the time shift since the red side of Nottingham had just one point from their opening six matches. Tonight's 2-0 defeat to Middlesbrough only adds further gloom to that statistic, with Forest picking up just 1 from 21.
Sunday afternoon saw supporters file from the terraces, frustrated, disconnected and confused as Forest surrendered a 1-0 lead, condemning them to a fourth 2-1 defeat of the 21/22 season.
Sold the dream
However, those calling the shots above the under-fire boss, are now also under the spotlight with fingers pointed at them by a vast number of supporters, as the dreamy tales of their five-year plan from 2017 continue to fall further off the beaten track.
Greek oligarch owner Evangelos Marinkis has only sat in his thrown like sculpted chair, a handful of times, and it begs the question. As he stares at the Brian Cloughstand opposite him, what the opinion of that exact man would be, if only he could see what was unfolding in the boardroom and on the pitch, of which his name overlooks.
When Fawaz Al Hasawi left the club in the new hands of Marinakis and co, life was positive by the River Trent. An ambitious but exciting five-year plan, that highlighted the club would be playing European football at some level, have Champions League level facilities and an open change of culture, to value the supporter’s opinions and thoughts.
In stark contrast, Forest have failed to even make the Championship top-six, let alone that of the Premier League to warrant a spot among Europe’s elites. The Champions League level facilities are nowhere to be seen, as the club’s training ground continues to fall behind the level of other club’s in the division, and bird droppings are ever present throughout seats in the bottom tier of the City Ground.
A blast from the past
Johnson joined presenter Michelle Owen and former Cardiff City defender Sol Bamba on Sky Sports’ coverage of the game this past Sunday, but it was his comments when they went off air that cooked up a social media storm.
As a former player for the Reds, and father of academy graduate and now important young star going forward, Brennan Johnson, David will quite obviously have the club’s best interests at heart and want to see Forest succeed in every way possible.
He took to Twitter and blasted those at the top of the club, declaring: “Just so angry and disappointed how this club is ran. It’s embarrassing (the whole board should of gone) they are a disgrace. Last time I anything bad about the club. Gainnis called me. I’ll wait for his call I guess, as I was right the first time.”
Here Johnson refers to former CEO, Ioannis Vrentzos. A man that still has huge say at the top of the club, despite being replaced as Chief Executive Officer by Murphy this summer.
It really is baffling when you think about any organisation, business, or line of work in which a blasted previous CEO still holds large elements of control and the opportunity to dictate what the new one does.
As Marinakis’ right-hand man, Vrentzos still very much informs the owner of goings-on and operates a suited role whilst the owner oversees the bulk of his time into homeland giants – Olympiacos.
PR PR PR
Another notable and strange occurrence that frequently arises at the club, is feeling the need to shut down any bad rep or information. It’s common courtesy that any business or football club would want the best press circulating, but Nottingham Forest have been beyond coy in the face of any adversity, since 2017.
As referenced earlier, the five-year plan was music to Forest fans ears. After mismanagement, lowly league finishes and empty promises – the thought of a dazzling new main stand, Champions League facilities and an open new board, was just what they wanted to hear.
However, here we stand in 2021, and what answers are there to that thesis other than some very well pledged PR that got everyone looking forward positively?
It seems so evident that the hierarchy can’t except criticism, which is a rotten reality when running the weekly livelihood for 30,000 fans and many more across the world. Football breeds, football criticism, but it also means those at the top must take that criticism and accountability, without just brushing it under the carpet at the first opportunity.
It's more than just three points
Three points would do a lot to usher in some short-term optimism at the City Ground, however, the bigger picture is what’s bringing things down.
Supporters want clarity, openness, and the cold hard truth about their football club, that has been underachieving and settling for mediocrity for too long.
It’s become notable that when players join Forest, they speak about the history, size of the club and the fans – but the new generation of fans want a club they’re proud of and can boast about. Do things right, you’ll be loved, cherished and be a Forest legend, but like many have found out, if not you can feel the wrath of a passionate fan base wanting better for the present and future on Trentside.