Forest hire former Villa boss McLeish
LONDON (AFP) –
Nottingham Forest’s Kuwaiti owners appointed former Aston Villa boss Alex McLeish as their new manager on Thursday just 24 hours after sacking Sean O’Driscoll.
Forest chairman Fawaz Al Hasawi insisted he wanted a manager with Premier League experience when he made the surprise decision to dismiss O’Driscoll following the Championship team’s 4-2 win over Leeds on Wednesday.
And Al Hasawi swiftly followed through on that commitment by hiring McLeish, who has previously led Birmingham to promotion from the second tier but was sacked by Villa at the end of last season after just one year in charge.
“I’m delighted to welcome Alex to our club and look forward to working with him,” Al Hasawi told Forest’s website.
“Alex took Birmingham to promotion from the Championship and has great experience of working in the Premier League.
“He’s hungry for more success and I believe he’s the man who can help us fulfil our ambition of making it to the Premier League.”
McLeish will begin work at the City Ground on Friday before taking charge of Saturday’s home league clash against promotion-chasing Crystal Palace.
But the 53-year-old’s reputation for producing teams that play dour football makes his appointment something of a gamble for Forest, who had also been linked with former Chelsea manager Roberto Di Matteo and ex-Manchester United midfielder Roy Keane.
Villa only narrowly avoided relegation last season, finishing two points above the bottom three, and McLeish endured a difficult relationship with the club’s fans.
It is over 30 years since two-time European champions Forest were a dominant force in English football under legendary boss Brian Clough, but Al Hasawi and co-owner Abdulaziz Al Hasawi believe they can restore the club to its former glory.
And McLeish, who led Rangers to two Scottish league titles, will be expected to deliver promotion in his first season at Forest, who are currently eighth in the Championship.
The former Scotland coach insists he is revitalised after eight months out of the game following his Villa exit and can’t wait to get started on his new challenge.
“I’m really looking forward to working with Nottingham Forest,” he said.
“I’ve had time away from the game and now feel refreshed and ready to go.
“The fact that a club of Forest’s magnitude has offered me a job excites me greatly, it’s a wonderful opportunity.
“I can’t wait to get started and I’m looking forward to meeting the players, talking to them and taking my first training session.”
McLeish, who played under Alex Ferguson as an Aberdeen defender, did his best work in English football at Birmingham.
Although he failed to save the club from relegation from the Premier League in May 2008, he guided Birmingham to promotion the following season and then secured a creditable ninth-placed finish in the top-flight.
A shock victory over Arsenal in the League Cup final followed in February 2011, but Birmingham were still relegated at the end of the season.
McLeish then left to join local rivals Villa in acrimonious circumstances and was unable to make any impact at Villa Park before his dismissal.