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Last Updated: Saturday, 30 April, 2005, 15:52 GMT 16:52 UK
Forest's spectacular fall from grace
By Jonathan Stevenson

Nottingham Forest's City Ground stadium

Nearly 25 years after being crowned European Champions for the second time in a row, Nottingham Forest have been relegated to the third tier of English football.

Just a quarter of a century has passed since the late, great Brian Clough made the unfashionable City Ground side the finest football team on the continent.

Defeat away at QPR on Saturday consigned the Reds to League One, the first ever European champions to drop so low in their domestic competition.

BBC Sport asks three men who have watched the sad demise how it got so bad, and what the future holds on the banks of the River Trent.


Only Franz Beckenbauer has lifted the European Cup more times as captain than John McGovern, but Clough's former skipper says there is little point comparing Forest's current plight to that golden era.

"All clubs have history, look at Spurs when they won the double, or Burnley when they got to the FA Cup final, all clubs have teams they can be proud of," said McGovern.

Nottingham Forest's European Cup-winning captain John McGovern
The 3-0 home defeat by Plymouth stands out, the players knew they were a disgrace
Former Nottingham Forest captain John McGovern

"Forest fans don't expect the team to play like we did 25 years ago, we were a brilliant side.

"What they do expect is players who wear the shirt to give 100% every time they play, but that hasn't happened in a few games this season and that's why some of the fans are touchy.

"There are games when it's looked like they haven't been trying. The 3-0 home defeat by Plymouth stands out, the players knew they were a disgrace that day."

McGovern says manager Gary Megson should be given time to turn the club around but thinks chairman Nigel Doughty made a mistake in not appointing the former West Brom boss earlier.

"I think Gary had enough confidence in his own ability to think he could keep them up but he's not been given enough time," added McGovern.

"It's an exceptionally difficult task for the manager, because he will want to improve the squad but he's near enough going to have to create something out of nothing.

"They are going down a league and they won't find it easy but there's no reason why they can't come straight back up.

"I do feel Gary has the experience and the ability to turn things round, I just hope he's not having any negative thoughts about wanting to stay because I think he is the ideal manager for the job."


Local journalist Colin Fray has been covering the Reds full-time for local radio since 1994 and he believes the club's recent failure can be attributed to two separate events.

"I think this all goes back to the last relegation from the Premiership in 1999, and since then the club have gambled twice on their future, both times getting it wrong," said Fray.

"The first time was appointing David Platt in 1999 and giving him 12m-15m to spend. That failed and I think they are still counting the cost of how much was spent.

I think Gary Megson's been genuinely shocked by what he's seen
BBC Radio Nottingham commentator Colin Fray

"The second gamble was this season with Joe Kinnear. They went for it again, upping their wage bill from 5m to 6m, the second highest in the league outside those clubs who had a parachute payment from the Premiership.

"So they've gambled twice and they did it under the wrong managers. Paul Hart got them to the play-offs in 2003 and they didn't spend a penny - in fact, in the summer they sold half the team when they should have gone for it."

Fray believes current incumbent Megson is the right man to get Forest back on track, but only if he is allowed carte blanche at the City Ground.

"I think Gary's been genuinely shocked by what he's seen since he came in in January, but I don't think he'll just walk away because they've been relegated," added Fray.

"He might demand a lot of the players are offloaded. As a squad it's the worst group of players I've seen, I've lost count of the number of times I've thought 'that's the worst I've ever seen them play'.

"But the club will recover as long as Gary is at the helm. He can build his own squad and knows the lower leagues, but they will have to let him do it his way."


Paul Ellis believes the success in the glory years under Clough and Peter Taylor has hung like a shadow over the City Ground in recent years, but says Forest must learn to use their glorious history to their advantage.

"People say we're a big club and have a God-given right to be up there in the Premiership, but it's a load of rubbish," said Ellis.

Maybe the chairman mistrusted the managers, but that's his problem as he appointed them
Forest supporters' club chairman Paul Ellis

"The success we had with Brian is a problem for the club and the managers, because people always have something to compare the current situation to and it does hang over them.

"But it happened and you have to celebrate it, not use it as a stick to beat yourself with. I remember people moaning when it was happening, so some people are never happy."

Ellis agrees with Fray that investment was made at the wrong time by Forest owner Doughty, but unlike Fray he is not sure Megson is the man to turn things around.

"I think the decisions about managers and the decisions of managers have not been the best, and things have gone in rapid decline," added Ellis.

"The chairman ought to have invested in the last two summers. I just think maybe he had some mistrust of the managers, but that's his own problem because he appointed them. Maybe he's just invested at the wrong time.

"When he came in I thought Megson was key to our future, but I'm not so sure now. I know a lot of the fans don't want to see the team playing like they do at the moment, only having one or two shots a game.

"We want to see a bit more flair and I'm doubting a little if that can come from him. I don't think he's the right man to take us out of League One."

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