It is 3 April 2014, or Stuart Pearce Day, a time for rejoicing in Nottingham. The appointment of a club legend as manager is certainly no guarantee of success, these things can go horribly wrong, but there is an important emotional string between a fan and a football club that for many who have become disillusioned will have been re-attached by confirmation of today’s news.
Fans of a certain age are being whisked back to their youths when a rampaging left back won their hearts. The crunching tackles, the thunderous free kicks, the marauding runs and the Herculean thighs all combined to lift an electrician into a hero. Psycho! Psycho! Psycho!
If we’re honest it is a small step in the right direction. When the Al-Hasawi family first took control of the club they appointed Sean O’Driscoll, a move which gave many of us hope that they would focus on a long term plan that would deliver a club with identity and strong foundations, but that hope proved false when they discarded him after just 5 months.
Having appointed a man who loves the club and is loved by it in return Fawaz Al-Hasawi now needs to follow up this positive move by rebuilding a football and administrative structure that has been dismantled under his stewardship.
Fawaz has talked about appointing a new Chief Executive in the summer and the person who fills this role could well define the club’s future. The club has lacked a clear vision and development strategy for years and fans will be looking for leadership at board level that can both communicate and deliver a convincing framework for progress on the pitch and community pride off it.
Two Heads of Recruitment have been sacked in the last 20 months and currently no one is actively leading in what is a key success factor. Two development coaches have also been sacked disrupting the path from the academy to the first team. There is much work yet to be done.
The summer will be a time for building structures and for constructively questioning the owner as he plots a path forward that may have to cope with Financial Fair Play and may also require some honest self-appraisal on his part as the squad is re-shaped. It is right to hold him to account as well as offering support, he is a steward of a great club that is about to celebrate 150 years of football and he must carry that responsibility with care and humility.
Today, however, is for the celebration of a returning hero. Through 12 years of wonderful service as a player Stuart Pearce deserves a glorious return and whether he succeeds or fails he remains one of the greats, one of the reasons we love Nottingham Forest. For much of this season I have felt myself drifting away, not wanting to watch my club being dragged through the mud, but today I look forward. Today I wear a grin that is broad and foolish. We are Nottingham Forest, Psycho is our leader, come on you bloody lovely Reds!