Billy Davies: My first challenge at Nottingham Forest was to avoid relegation
BILLY Davies today admitted his first priority as Nottingham Forest manager had been to steer the club away from the threat of relegation.
The Reds were nine points off the play-offs and on a run of just three wins in 14 matches when he took over for a second spell as manager.
A fifth consecutive win – a 3-1 success over Wolves at the City Ground – lifted Forest into the top six for only the second time this season and fuelled hopes that the club might secure a play-off place.
But Davies says that, when he returned to the club, he feared there was a danger they could exit the division at the other end of the table.
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"Having won three from 14 and watched the first day of training, my instruction to the staff was that we needed to get to the 53 points target as soon as possible. I was very concerned," said Davies.
"I was concerned about staying up. With the tempo of the training, the way we trained the discipline – I was very concerned.
"There is no doubt that we have very good players – on paper. There is no doubt that we have a great bunch – on paper. But there is also no doubt that we have a lot of work to do.
"With nine games to go, we will do what we can in every game."
Davies revealed that Forest had gone into the game with something of a striker crisis, with Billy Sharp still suffering the effects of a chest infection and Dexter Blackstock carrying a hamstring problem that eventually forced him off before half time.
"I should not have played Dexter Blackstock, because he had a slight hamstring problem. I probably shouldn't have had Billy Sharp on the bench, but I asked him if he could give us 20 minutes if we needed him to, given that he has still had this chest infection," said Davies.
"I asked Dexter to give us what he could and, up until he went off, I thought we dominated totally. The substitution and the change of tactics, to go with one striker, affected us.
"We couldn't put Sharpy on, he had 15 minutes in him at the most. We also knew that Dexter was a risk.
"I registered Morgan Ferrier from the academy and he was going to be on the bench, until I spoke to Billy.
"But I thought our substitutions gave us an impact, Moussi was magnificent and back to his best, McGugan is just McGugan, he goes out there and does what he does and we put Halford up front for two reasons.
"Firstly because we did not have anyone else and I wanted some pace and height up there and, secondly, because of his ability defending set pieces. We needed more stature. That is why we brought him and Moussi on."
Davies was delighted with the efforts of his players, who had to adopt to several changes in formation as Forest were forced to make substitutions.
"The players have to get used to us chopping and changing and us asking them to play out of position. They have to understand the tactical changes that are required, when we are winning, losing or drawing," said Davies.
"I said sincerely that I am delighted with the effort we are getting, I am delighted with the points as well, but, at the same time, we will prepare for the next match and look no further."