It’s a sure sign that things are getting serious when Steve Evans is among the favourites to be next manager. While it’s to be hoped that that’s just bluster to help Evans bag another contract with Leeds, it did bring home the fact that the list of contenders so far veers from the unrealistic to the downright unpleasant.
According to John McGovern, Forest’s most recent managerial search is aimed at finding someone with the right ‘track record’ to succeed at the City Ground.
The European Cup winning skipper listed off some names that have featured heavily on the bookies’ lists – Nigel Pearson, Nigel Clough, Martin O’Neill – and even threw Paul Ince into the mix during a pre-Reading interview with Radio Nottingham (You’d have to hope that his laughter after uttering Ince’s name means he isn’t being taken seriously).
You can’t help feeling that it’s time to widen the field a little. Pearson might want to wait for better offers, O’Neill already has a better proposition with the chance to qualify for a World Cup and Clough Jr is embroiled in a promotion battle at Burton.
Here’s my vain attempt to widen out the list of contenders and consider some of the other people that should, at least, be part of the debate. I don’t necessarily think that any of these must be the candidate but I’d like to think we won’t just settle for someone plucked from the merry-go-round a la Evans.
Justin Edinburgh: Forest’s on-field recruitment policy has often failed to spot talented players to pluck from the league below and, while that’s a separate matter to address, there could be a case for applying that logic to up and coming managers too. Former Spurs defender Justin Edinburgh ticks the box for that category. Against the odds he’s currently locked in a promotion battle in charge of Gillingham, having led the side clear of the relegation zone last term. Edinburgh’s appointment at the Priestfield came as a personal promotion after his impressive stint at Newport County in which he brought the Welsh outfit back to the Football League after a 25-year absence. Whether it’s with Gillingham or elsewhere, you feel Edinburgh is destined for a Championship job at some point.
Darrell Clarke: Mansfield-born Clarke is another manager that looks to have a bright future. Clarke, who also played for the Stags, rolled up his sleeves and helped Bristol Rovers to return to the Football League after they fell into the Conference, winning a play-off final against Grimsby. The momentum has continued ever since, and Rovers are now contenders to shoot straight through League Two and return to the third tier. Before Bristol, Clarke cut his managerial teeth at Salisbury City, where he won more than half of his 157 games in charge. He’s probably a little behind Edinburgh in the pecking order, but well worth a look.
Gary Bowyer: So, how about a manager with a surname that is synonymous with Forest’s European history and his dad’s great achievements at the City Ground? No, not Nigel Clough, a different one. Gary Bowyer is currently out of work after, let’s face it, being dealt a bad hand by Blackburn Rovers. The son of ‘Bomber’ never felt more than a game or two from the sack at a club that has had a pretty chaotic few years. Ignore his win percentage and consider that, unlike some near rivals (Blackpool, Bolton), he steadied the ship at Rovers and delivered a side that was competitive at this level. Steady and stable are words that have been in short supply on Trentside in recent years.
Uwe Rosler: The German was mentioned in a Fan Post on this site and is certainly worthy of consideration. It’s easy to forget that not that long ago Rosler was an exciting and progressive young manager making big waves at Brentford. Sadly for him, since then he’s thrown himself into the twin melting pots of Wigan and Leeds United. A very short and unsuccessful spell at Elland Road hasn’t exactly been a bar in the past, however, and Rosler was in the process of building a reputation as an up and coming manager who played an attacking style of football before that was all derailed. Given that Freedman’s ‘style’ was said to be an issue, perhaps this earns the ex Man City man some extra brownie points?
Tommy Wright: A Northern Irishman for a return to the City Ground? No, not O’Neill (ok that joke wore thin on Bowyer, sorry) but Tommy Wright. Largely an understudy while on Trentside in the mid-90s, Wright is making a career for himself as a manager north of the border with St Johnstone after cutting his teeth back in his homeland. His record in Perth doesn’t read too badly either. A left field choice. Speaking of ex-Forest players from the 90s, Ray McKinnon is in charge of Raith Rovers too.