Football Friends Online – When 90 Mins Is Not EnoughReborn McClaren attempts to pull up trees at Forest - Football Friends Online - When 90 Mins Is Not Enough Reborn McClaren attempts to pull up trees at Forest - Football Friends Online - When 90 Mins Is Not Enough

Reborn McClaren attempts to pull up trees at Forest

It may be an understatement to say that Steve McClaren is an easy target for critics after that infamous qualifying campaign for Euro 2008 in charge of England. The use of umbrella on that tormented night against Croatia didn’t help either, and neither did the abysmally guided press conference in attempted pidgin Dutch after taking the reins at FC Twente. However, after winning the Dutch Premier League with the club from humble Enschede, his stock saw something of an upturn and, after an ill-fated spell in charge of Wolfsburg, he has been permitted a route back into England and a shot at redemption.

 The knives are still very much out for McClaren, a fan backlash caused Randy Lerner to omit the 50 year old from his search for a replacement coach at Aston Villa and options looked thin on a return home. There was still one chairman in Blighty out there willing to offer the former Middlesbrough coach a way back. He found solace in Nottingham where Nigel Doughty has taken a gamble on him to replace Billy Davies at Forest, and he is tasked with trying to get the reds back into the Premier League after an eleven year absence. In that time, they have experienced the lows of League one in what has been an adventure so far removed from the days of Brian Clough, but the shrewd Doughty is aware there are far less experienced than McClaren to return them there.

McClaren will have to deal with the unique set-up in place at the City Ground in which a transfer panel is referred to in order to sanction transfers, ensuring that money is not spent recklessly in their quest for promotion. That is not to say he will not be well backed, Billy Davies was given a cheque book nigh on £6million back in the summer of 2009 in which the likes of David McGoldrick and Dexter Blackstock were signed in a spree of squad investment which made Forest higher spenders in the league. Money did not buy success though and they fell at the Play-off hurdle, a similar fate befell them last season too, when Swansea triumphed over them in the semi-finals. So close yet so far was the summary of Davies’ reign and it was an expensive near miss; after continued transfer wrangling with the board, he saw fit to leave and McClaren was given an opportunity.

The Davies era did secure a talented squad to be inherited by his successor which has decreased the necessity for McClaren to delve into the market, despite his voiced frustrations at a lack of chances to do so. In the business that has been done, the much travelled George Boateng arrived on a free to provide valuable experience but is no spring chicken at the age of 36. Andy Reid also comes in without a fee, but has faced concerns about his fitness in recent years, struggling to settle at Sunderland and Blackpool. An old Middlesbrough favourite of McClaren’s, Jonathon Greening makes the move from Fulham for six figures to bolster the central midfield with his 32 years of nous and a clever acquisition has been made in Matt Derbyshire, who despite struggling at Blackburn, has proved he can cut it at a decent level with 14 goals in 26 games in a spell at Olympiakos.

McClaren has set about trying to mix experience with the youthful look of the squad he has been handed. Lewis McGugan is the heartbeat of the side, still only 22 after breaking into the first team aged 17. He is known for his wonderful dead balls and goal scoring contributions from central midfield, from which he totalled 13 goals last season. He is often partnered by Guy Moussi, the physically impressive Frenchman subject to interest from Everton in the summer. Tricky wingers Radoslav Majewski and Gareth McCleary are both 24 while Paul Anderson is 23. Joe Garner, signed from Carlisle at the age of 23 has been prevented from making another loan move after two spells away in the last campaign and will add another attacking option and soften the blow of Nathan Tyson’s departure to bitter rivals Derby County. In a strike force that contains McGoldrick, who has hit just eight goals in a three year spell, and Blackstock who has figures of 18 goals in 68 appearances, McClaren will need a consistent goal scorer to step-up and that man maybe Robbie Findlay, the American striker looked lively in the Carling Cup tie against Notts County in midweek and netted an impressive goal.

The penalty win over their near neighbours was the highlight in what has been a frustrating first week in charge for McClaren, having seen his side struggle to break down Barnsley on the opening day, a game in which Forest created very little in the way of chances despite the majority of possession. Suspect defending nearly cost them the midweek Carling Cup game on Tuesday, relying on a last minute wonder strike by Wes Morgan to take the game to penalties, and it has culminated in a 2-0 defeat to Millwall at the New Den. Forest were distinctly lacklustre and succumbed to goals from Darius Henderson and Liam Trotter in a display which heralded zero shots on target, a fact that will be of grave concern to McClaren as he attempts to solve his goal shy attack line.

Steve McClaren has been around long enough to know that much cannot be taken from two league games, but he will be wary that his side must address issues going forwards if they are to score enough to go up. If the doubts of himself borne out of his England experience have been extinguished, then a few from his stint at Wolfsburg will still remain where he picked up just 5 wins from 21 games before his premature sacking. Fresh from his European tour, McClaren will hope it is more Twente than Wolfsburg whilst in charge of Forest, but the early signs are cause for concern. Steve is back, but he may just have a job on his hands to convince everybody he is better than before.

Adam Gray

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