by James Riches
There can’t be a Championship fan out there who has not at some point heard their manager hurl clichés at some poor reporter about how hard this division is to get out of. Obviously nobody told Steve McClaren this, because he’s managed to escape from it in just ten games.
At the start of the season, I wrote a blog for this very website saying that the former England manager would be desperate to shed his ‘wally with the brolly’ image. Little did I realise that his way of doing this would be to simply resign as soon as summer finished, thus cleverly avoiding that pesky rainy winter season.
Forest failed to win any of their home games under McClaren, the nadir undoubtedly coming as they succumbed 2-1 at home to rivals Derby, who had keeper Frank Fielding sent off after just two minutes. For the sake of balance, I think I can safely suggest that few fans will forget Wes Morgan’s last-gasp howitzer against local rivals Notts County in the Carling Cup, but even that only pulled them level and staved off an embarrassing defeat.
The BBC’s Pat Murphy revealed that McClaren had actually already made up his mind to do a runner before kick-off in the tame 3-1 home defeat by Birmingham on Sunday, citing now departing Chairman Nigel Doughty’s refusal to take on the wages of two Premier League loan players.
Now, I know McClaren’s been abroad a bit lately, but Forest’s somewhat curious way of operating in the transfer market is hardly a secret, and he must surely have known what he was letting himself in for. He was allowed to bring in his own players, good ones too like Matt Derbyshire and Jonathan Greening, but evidently he wanted more.
Even the departure of troublesome transfer meddler David Pleat could not convince him to stay, but from the reaction of Forest’s fans after the Birmingham game, no-one is that sorry to see him go.
In his defence, he wasn’t sacked and so leaves without taking a penny from the club in compensation, but even so the chaos he left in his wake will surely see the end of his managerial career in England. Even with that group of players, 21st is not good enough for a club of Forest’s stature.
I wonder what Villa fans have made of the situation after so forcefully rejecting the idea of appointing him in the summer? Might they be forced to admit they are relieved to have got McLeish instead? I doubt that’ll happen, but I bet it’s what some of them are thinking when no one’s watching.
With all the fanfare surrounding McClaren’s departure, you have to feel for poor old Sean O’Driscoll at Doncaster, unceremoniously axed by Chairman John Ryan after five years at the helm, leaving anoraks everywhere scrambling about doing the maths to see whose turn it is now to be the longest-serving manager in the division. It’s Kenny Jackett.
So lacking in fanfare was O’Driscoll’s departure that I only noticed he’d gone when Dean Saunders rocked up at the Keepmoat while I happened to be browsing the Welsh news for Cardiff loan rumours.
And here was a man who really did have problems, a full team out injured before they’d even kicked off on opening day against Brighton, and then main strike threat Billy Sharp hurt himself as well. He didn’t have any money either, by the way.
This proves that McClaren is still, and will always remain the wally with brolly, the man at the eye of the storm when it all goes tits-up like all the writers sort of secretly hoped it would, struggling to dodge the limelight when other more deserving managers shuffle away from years of service in relative darkness.
It will be a brave chairman that lets him near their club now with all the inevitable media scrutiny it would bring.
Elsewhere, Keith Millen’s gone as well, but then there’s no surprise there, Bristol still don’t really look like they’ve recovered from the Coppell walkout. Millen never really inspired from the off, and a dismal start to the season has cost him.
So here we are in October, three gaffers have been dispensed with already and now we’re being told that clubs spent £99million on replacing the boss last season, although the actual breakdown of how those figures were arrived at is a little sketchy.
The Championship is 3-0 up on the Premier League already in the sack race (or managerial departure race, if you’re being pedantic), although that could only be because Steve Kean’s chairman’s office is a long way to travel. We’re doing our bit, anyway.
It’s a frightening division this, and in the pursuit of the Premier League or the escape from the League 1 doldrums, it doesn’t take too many defeats these days for the fans to turn and the chairmen to fire up the ejector seats.
James is a trainee journalist, blindly optimistic Cardiff City fan and Headers & Volleys own resident Championship guru. He lives in Manchester, where he is a constant target for the smugness and occasional pity of Premier League fans.
Posted on 05/10/2011, in 1. Latest, 7. Special Guests and tagged Bristol City, David Pleat, Doncaster Rovers, football, Keith Millen, Nigel Doughty, nottingham forest, Sean O'Driscoll, steve mcclaren, The Championship. Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.