Garry Birtles: Billy Davies would return to Nottingham Forest with a point to prove
NOTTINGHAM Forest have just parted company with Alex McLeish because they did not see eye to eye.
There was a suggestion that there were similar issues before they sacked Sean O'Driscoll, on Boxing Day.
The Al Hasawi family have not been on the same wavelength as their last two managers, when it came to their future plans for the club.
And it played a decisive part in two men exiting the City Ground in the space of less than two months.
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They even parted company with Steve Cotterill, within days of their arrival, because they did not feel he fitted their plans for the future.
Given these thoughts, is it wrong of me to have a few reservations about the potential return of Billy Davies?
At a time when the Al Hasawis are desperate to find somebody who can work with them; who can share their vision for the future, does the Scotsman really tick all of those important boxes?
Davies – who seems to be leading the race ahead of Nigel Adkins and Paolo Di Canio, among others – is many things.
When it comes to working with his team, he is an outstanding football manager.
He knows how to get the best from his players, he understands tactics, he knows how to make a team successful.
Players seem to want to play for him. He can turn a dressing room of players into a team. He proved that three seasons running, by guiding Forest away from the relegation zone and then to two consecutive top-six finishes.
That is no mean feat, as many managers, particularly at Forest, have found out since. On that front, he is as well equipped as anyone.
If it was just about that and nothing else, he would be my first choice. He would be an outstanding appointment. But it isn't.
There is a reason why, despite having finished in the play-off places for the second year running, Davies was still subsequently sacked the following summer.
It was because of his relationship with the previous club hierarchy.
That had become so fractious that it actually became more important than his unquestioned abilities as a manager.
Yes, I realise that works two ways. Davies could justifiably claim that he alone was not automatically to blame for that.
But, even before he came to Forest, he had a reputation for being combative, confrontational and demanding.
He certainly left Preston and Derby with similar allegations having been thrown at him.
And, by the end of his tenure at Forest, it was almost all consuming. It certainly threatened to overshadow Forest's play-off clash with Swansea.
It had become a circus. Forest, to be fair, do not currently need any assistance on that front. They have managed to achieve that all on their own, so far.
Fawaz Al Hasawi admitted this week that the last seven months have been "difficult".
I can think of a few stronger words to describe it.
But, it seems their next die has already been cast.
Davies, barring any last minute hitches or twists in the tale, seems close to securing a return to the City Ground.
And, given he is making a fresh start, it is only fair that he is allowed to do so with a clean slate.
You hope the Al Hasawi family are learning from the mistakes they are making in the first months of their tenure.
In their defence, they were always likely to make a few, as they came to terms with the significant demands of English football.
Yes, the ones they have made have been pretty spectacular. Sacking O'Driscoll was the first one.
And things obviously went awry on a number of fronts during January.
But it was always going to take time for them to acclimatise, because Championship football, with respect, is bound to be very different to the game in Kuwait.
But, while they have been on a learning curve, let's not discount another thought.
Maybe Davies has been too.
Who is to say he has not learned from his previous spell in charge?
Who is to say he will not come back with a fresh perspective?
He is clearly a man with a point to prove.
He was offered the job at Blackpool, but turned it down – while telling their chairman that he wanted to pursue another opportunity.
So it seems he might want to come back to Forest.
And the majority of the fans would welcome him back, with open arms, because of what he achieved on the pitch.
But there is also still a fairly large group of supporters who do remain skeptical. I include myself in that group.
I am, however, also ready to be proved wrong. In fact, nothing would please me more.
As the Al Hasawi family look for a manager who will fit in with their own very specific blueprint for the future, Davies would not be at the top of my list of potential targets.
But following a few nasty surprises in the past few months, perhaps it is time for a positive one.
If it does, as most of us expect, end up being a second coming for Davies at the City Ground, perhaps his qualities as a football manager can come to the fore.
And rather than being remembered as a man who talked his way out of a job, he could yet cement a place in history as being the man who took Forest back into the Premier League.