European Cup winner Viv Anderson on Nottingham Forest’s struggles and the need for stability

Viv Anderson Nottingham City of Football

Anderson tells HITC Sport that someone, be that Dougie Freedman or another new boss, needs to be given time to rebuild at the City Ground.

Viv Anderson Nottingham City of Football 2

A matter of days after the City Ground played host to the premiere of a new film showcasing the greatest achievements in the club’s history, Nottingham Forest found themselves toiling in front of the television cameras as they slipped to a 2-0 defeat at Bristol City.

‘I Believe In Miracles’ is a fantastic homage to the European Cup-winning side of Brian Clough, but the class of 2015 are doing little to get a loyal fan base daring to dream.

Reds supporters are not expecting a return to continental competition any time soon, or for a trophy cabinet which groaned under the weight of silverware for so long to be unlocked again in the near future, but they would look to see a flicker of promise, something to cling to.

It is looking increasingly unlikely that such progress will be made this season, with Forest currently languishing in 16th spot in the Championship table, only four points above the relegation zone and 10 adrift of the play-off places.

They have been in that particular mix in the recent past, under the guidance of Billy Davies, but promotion remained out of reach and a succession of bosses have been unable to light the fuse on Trentside since.

Dougie Freedman is the latest to have been handed the reins, but for how much longer he holds on to them remains to be seen.

One man who hopes he will be given time in which to get things right, during a period of instability for the club which has included a troublesome transfer embargo, is Viv Anderson – a home-grown hero of the Clough era.

Anderson, who was speaking at GameChangers Football as part of his role as ambassador for the Nottingham City of Football project, told HITC Sport during a phone interview: “It is tough. This embargo they have got on at the moment is not easy for them, they have got to get loan players in and can’t buy anyone. The sooner they get that lifted and give Dougie the chance to do the job, the tools to do the job, you are going to see a better position.

“He is a decent manager and we can’t get into the realms of keep on swapping managers like they have done over the last 10 years – I don’t know how many managers they have had. They need to say ‘This is the one we want’ and stick with him, give them a four or five-year contract and see it through to the end.”

Viv Anderson Nottingham City of Football 3

On the revolving door policy which has seen eight men – permanent and caretaker – occupy the managerial hot-seat since Davies left for the first time in 2011, Anderson added: “You change the manager, but you also change the coaching staff, the players, because the new manager wants different players to the other manager, and you get yourself into the position they have got themselves in financially. It’s a recipe for a disaster.

“I look back to Martin O’Neill, he got the job at Leicester and won one his first 13 games but ended up doing really well for that club, taking them to cup finals and everything else, because the people in charge had faith in him, and I think that’s what Forest have to do. They’ve tried the other way and it keeps backfiring, they keep losing money hand over fist and they are in the position they are in now. They need to stick with one, whether it’s Dougie or whether it’s another manager, and say ‘This is it and we’re going to stick with them for the next four or five years’.”

Freedman has been unfortunate in that he has had to work under the restrictions of an embargo throughout his time at the helm, while key men such as Britt Assombalonga, Andy Reid and Chris Cohen have been unavailable to him through injury.

Anderson said on the challenges facing the Scot: “He’s not alone there. There are a lot of clubs up and down the country losing key players at crucial times. It’s one of those things you have to get over, but if you have got better and decent enough players coming in, those who know what is expected, that prevents having to put young lads in who may not know – they may be good, maybe not this year but the year after, but it’s difficult to keep on playing kids that aren’t really up to the task. The quicker you can get the embargo lifted and get some decent, knowledgeable players in, the better.

“I’m hopeful that Dougie can get it right because he’s got good staff around him. He’s got some decent players, but he could do with adding if the owners come up with the money and he makes the right decisions.”

Freedman, if he is still around by then, will likely have to wait until next summer before he is freed to dip back into the transfer market for permanent additions, but chairman Fawaz Al Hasawi has shown in the past that he is prepared to make funds available.

Forest will, of course, be hoping to fare considerably better with those currently available to them over the coming weeks and months than they have done thus far, but if the 2015/16 campaign does become a write-off, at least there may be hope for the future.

Viv Anderson is an ambassador for the Nottingham City of Football project and was taking part in GameChangers Football with GameCity. For more information and to find your football go to http://www.city-of-football.uk

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