Paul Taylor: This time, change has been a good thing for Nottingham Forest
THIS season, 31 managers have lost their jobs in the top four divisions of English football.
That equates to almost a third of all clubs making a change.
Although, if you include Steve Cotterill, Nottingham Forest have been responsible for three of those on their own.
But each and every situation will have had one thing in common.
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The big decision, when it came, will have been based on one simple belief – that a new man could do a better job.
A recent study demonstrated that, over a period of 13 games, clubs that had changed managers were, on average, actually a point worse off than those who chose to stick, rather than twist.
A change of manager does not always equate to a change in fortunes.
At Forest, this is probably something that, with the benefit of hindsight, even Fawaz Al Hasawi himself would admit to.
The decision to axe Sean O'Driscoll and replace him with Alex McLeish certainly didn't have the desired outcome.
McLeish, as his television appearance over the weekend proved, is a decent, driven character. But he and Forest were simply never a good fit.
The Scotsman admitted as much himself, amid an honest assessment of his 40-day tenure.
But, while Al Hasawi's decision making may have been questionable over the Christmas period, the club's Kuwaiti chairman and owner has certainly made amends subsequently.
The return of Billy Davies can hardly be chalked up to new manager syndrome, because he is not a new manager – he is an entirely familiar face.
He was also one of few appointments Forest could have made that would have appeased large sections of the fan base.
But the number of people who approve of the move must be swelling by the minute.
Because, in the case of Davies, it is impossible to argue that his appointment has had anything other than the desired effect.
It has totally galvanised the club.
A season that had looked to have unraveled amid a tide of hasty decision making, could yet see Forest sweep into the play-offs on a tidal wave of good form.
We know who has inspired that, but how has he done it?
How has Davies transformed a team that, as he often points out, had won only three of their previous 14 games prior to his appointment, into one that is now closing in on a club record number of consecutive wins?
An interview with Henri Lansbury, immediately after Forest had won at promotion rivals Hull on Saturday, told a significant story.
Almost regardless of the question; whether he was asked about their promotion chances, the manner of their victory or the goals scored from the Forest midfield recently, the midfielder's responses centred around two things.
And they were the spirit engrained in the squad and the hard work they put in on the training ground.
Lansbury's stock answer revolved around Forest doing things as a team; the sense of unity within the ranks and the determination they have to succeed.
These are qualities, you could argue, that should be engineered by any manager who is truly earning his wage.
But what Davies has inspired is something beyond that.
There are no factions in the squad; no one player who feels like he does not have a part to play.
And that is Davies' greatest talent – promoting this 'them-against-us' mentality.
Almost all non-playing or coaching staff have been moved away from the club's training ground.
A siege mentality has been created within the walls of the Nigel Doughty Academy.
It extends almost to the point where anyone outside of the dressing room or the manager and coaches offices; anyone outside of the inner sanctum, is viewed as the enemy – or, at the very least, a distraction from their common goal.
That has only enhanced the sense of togetherness; the desire to do things for the team.
Davies has also perpetrated the belief that hard work will be rewarded. If you do well on a Saturday afternoon, you will keep the shirt.
That pledge has been borne out by Davies' team selections.
In seven matches, Davies has used only 14 players in his starting line-ups.
And the changes he has made have largely been inspired either by injury or suspension.
O'Driscoll was a man with good ideas; an intelligent, likable character with a long-term plan – which he was not given the chance to implement.
But he was also not without fault. One of which was that he spent too much time worrying about the opposition, changing his own team to counter the strengths of the team they were facing.
The prime example of this was when Forest attempted to field a three-man central defence to counter Hull City when they came to the City Ground.
Forest, in the end, were unlucky to be beaten, 2-1, ultimately by a goal that clearly involved the use of a hand by Paul McShane.
But the performance was hardly one to write home about, amid an insipid encounter that became a dull game of chess.
Davies, in contrast, went to the KC Stadium and unleashed the attacking qualities of his own side, amid a formation, with a midfield diamond, that he has clearly decided best suits their abilities.
It was not quite throwing caution to the wind, but it was not far off, with Davies making three attacking substitutions in an attempt to win the game.
It was a far more absorbing, entertaining encounter, as the two teams exchanged punches in the centre of the ring, rather than dancing around with their guards up, trying to avoid getting hit themselves.
The players Davies brought on – Dexter Blackstock, Billy Sharp and Lewis McGugan this time combined to provide the winning goal, as Forest secured a 2-1 win of their own.
And the players who are left on the bench are also motivated to do well, because they want to earn a place back in the starting line-up.
The three goals in three games scored by McGugan as a substitute are evidence of that.
And six consecutive wins are irrefutable evidence of the impact made by a change of manager.
There is much work to be done before Forest secure a play-off place, never mind allowing themselves to consider making a challenge for automatic promotion.
But, if Davies can continue to inspire the same level of belief in his players, the appointment of Davies could yet prove to be one change that the Al Hasawi's were right to make.