Garry Birtles: I'm all for Billy sending out the right message at Nottingham Forest
THERE are many different ways of demonstrating authority, of sending out the message: 'I'm the boss'.
And it does not have to involve screaming your lungs out at people every five minutes.
With Brian Clough, it was little things. You would wonder which door he was going to walk through in the mornings; you would question what time it would happen.
And you never knew what kind of mood he would be in, when he did. You would wonder about what he might have in store for you that day. You were basically always on your toes; always questioning what was going to happen next.
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So, when I read, this week, that Billy Davies had made a host of changes at the club, it did not surprise me. Not even when I found out what those changes were.
Yes, from the outside it seems odd that he is banning the players from going into the training ground kitchen to make a cup of tea and that, also according to Dexter Blackstock, he has decided to move a fridge out of the City Ground changing room.
But, while they may seem like petty decisions, it is not so much about what the actions are, as the fact that he is enforcing his will that matters.
Because he is sending out a message. He is saying to the players and to everyone else at the club: 'I'm back and I am making the decisions'.
Blackstock says there have been numerous changes already made to life at the training ground and at the stadium; that Davies has looked at every possible aspect of how the club is run, at least with regard to the playing squad. And there is nothing at all wrong with that.
You can't imagine the chef pulling his boots on and expecting to join in the five-a-side games at the end of training, so why should the players be allowed to enter his domain to make a cuppa?
These changes might make the day-to-day lives of the players a little easier, it might instil a sense of discipline. It might upset you if you want a cup of tea. But the most important factor is that it shows Billy is in charge.
And, when you consider the basic qualities he is trying to encourage from his players on the pitch, that could prove to be vital.
There has never been any question that Forest's players have quality. They have an outstanding squad at Championship level. But they have also underachieved. Their potential has not been fulfilled.
People know my opinion on Sean O'Driscoll. I have repeatedly stated he was sacked far too soon. And there were also many reasons why Alex McLeish's tenure was cut so short, so quickly.
But now they find themselves with a manager who, whatever his short-fallings are, has one particular quality that is more important than ever in the current climate. He gets the best from his players.
And one of the ways he does that is because he demands the basics from them. He expects effort, work-rate and commitment. With the emphasis on work-rate, in particular.
When I was a player, it was my job, as a striker, to score goals and to set up chances for others. But there was far more to it than that. I was also fairly quick and quite fit and I was expected to use those qualities when we did not have possession, as well as when we did.
I would slog my guts out to close down defenders, to put them under pressure when they had the ball, to try and entice a mistake from them.
If we did that, the midfield would push up a few yards as well, and we would suddenly be on the attack, as a team.
As with so many things in football, it is the simple things that are most effective. If your strikers do not work hard, it can put pressure on your midfield. If they find themselves overrun, it puts pressure on the back four.
If you work hard and defend from the front, it can really make a difference.
What Davies does is not rocket science. But it is incredibly effective. He inspires his players to work hard, to give that extra five per cent of effort. Then everything else falls into place from there.
That is also why he is good at getting the best out of the most talismanic players at the club. It was no surprise to see Radi Majewski net a hat-trick on Tuesday, after Billy had given him a gentle kick up the backside.
When you look at the little Pole, Andy Reid, Henri Lansbury, Lewis McGugan… Forest have an incredibly creative group of midfield players. If you add desire and industry to the mix, they are a side that will create chances, who will carve open opposition sides. It is about attitude and discipline. And, even if that starts by stopping the players from making a cup of tea in the morning, then I am all for it.