VIRGO: Freed­man not right for For­est

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WATCH­ING Not - ting­ham For­est re­cently, it was ob­vi­ous that the play­ers’ be­lief in the manager had come to an end. Sacking Stu­art Pearce was the right de­ci­sion.

But what baf­fles me com­pletely is the ap­point­ment of Dougie Freed­man, a guy who suf­fered the ex­act same prob­lem at Bolton this sea­son.

I saw Bolton play against Brighton at the be­gin­ning of the sea­son and I’m be­ing kind when I say they were av­er­age.

You look at a manager like Mick McCarthy and one thing you can al­ways say is that his teams are or­gan­ised. Ip­swich are nowhere near the Cham­pi­onship’s strong­est side on pa­per, but they de­fend well, they have a sys­tem, they play to their strengths. It’s sim­ple stuff, but it works.

I saw noth­ing in Dougie Freed­man’s team that made me think ‘Ah they’re try­ing to play out from the back’ or that they were us­ing a par­tic­u­lar game­plan. Like For­est un­der Pearce, you didn’t look at the team on the pitch and see an iden­tity.

Stop­gap

For­est are a mas­sive club and they should be at­tract­ing bet­ter man­agers than Dougie. As a player, you pick up a pa­per, see your club linked with a big name like Tim Sher­wood and think ‘I can’t wait to play un­der him’.You pick it up and see Dougie Freed­man and you think ‘Is he re­ally the guy to pick ev­ery­one up?’

Is Freed­man bet­ter than Pearce? I don’t think so. I think it’s down to money. Af­ter pay­ing com­pen­sa­tion to so many man­agers th­ese last few years, Fawaz Al-Ha­sawi must have picked the cheap­est op­tion.

Ei­ther that or it’s a stop­gap to get Dougie back on the lad­der and see For­est through to the end of a sea­son that – let’s face it – is now dead in the wa­ter. They aren’t go­ing up. They aren’t go­ing down. And come the sum­mer, I would think there will be ex­pe­ri­enced man­agers out of work who will be a lot more at­trac­tive to Fawaz.

As for Stu­art Pearce, his rep­u­ta­tion has taken a bat­ter­ing. He got the job at Manch­ester City thanks to his play­ing ca­reer. He did OK. He got the job with Eng­land on rep­u­ta­tion. Again, he did OK. He got the job at For­est through his leg­endary sta­tus and failed.

The fi­nal per­for­mance against Mill­wall was noth­ing short of dire. I’ve seen Mill­wall play a few times this sea­son and they’re rarely any­thing but poor.

Sur­ren­der

For For­est to be even worse shows you ex­actly where the club were go­ing un­der Pearce.The goal they con­ceded re­ally summed them up.

The play­ers have said they were be­hind him. I don’t be­lieve it.Yes, his name was ‘Psy­cho’ on the pitch. He loved a tackle. It was all very heart on sleeve. And when you’re like that as a manager, play­ers can re­spond.

But if they were gen­uinely be­hind him, they would be beat­ing teams like Mill­wall. They wouldn’t be con­ced­ing sloppy goals and they wouldn’t be sur­ren­der­ing as they have.

He lost his way, and there aren’t many ex­cuses.Where does he go from here? Peo­ple talked about Eng­land once but that’s gone. Pre­mier League clubs? Can’t see that ei­ther. Other Cham­pi­onship clubs? Yeah, the smaller ones would prob­a­bly take him for the pub­lic­ity.

But for me, the best op­tion is to go abroad like Steve McClaren did. Steve had an aw­ful time with Eng­land. No­body here would touch him. But he went to FC Twente, worked mir­a­cles over there and has now come back with Derby a far bet­ter coach with his rep­u­ta­tion re­stored.

If Stu­art Pearce could do that, I know teams out there would love to have him.

PIC­TURE: Ac­tion Images

TWO OF A KIND: Stu­art Pearce, left, and his re­place­ment as Not­ting­ham For­est boss, Dougie Freed­man

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