After a wait of almost five months, Nottingham Forest have finally appointed a new full-time manager at the City Ground. Adding to the long list of new championship managers this summer, Philippe Montanier has signed a two-year deal at Forest succeeding former interim manager Paul Williams.
Montanier is a surprise addition to the East Midlands club as it was heavily rumoured over this past month that Neil Warnock or even Ryan Giggs, both of which prominent names in English football, may be the ones to lead Forest forward. Instead, Nottingham Forest Chairman Fawaz Al-Hasawi opted to have every reds fan searching the internet to find out just who is Philippe Montanier?
Montanier made over 300 appearances in France as a goalkeeper for the likes of Toulouse, Nantes and Saint-Etienne. In 2003 at just 37 years of age, Montanier was appointed to his first managerial job at French side Boulogne where he would go on in 2004 to guide them into to the top flight of French football for the first time in the club’s history.
This achievement propelled the now 51-year-old into the French managerial spectrum where he went on to spend a short stint at Valenciennes before moving on to Real Sociedad in Spain. At Sociedad, Montanier would again achieve an impressive feat by getting Real into the Champions League by finishing fourth in La Liga, in 2011. This then led Montanier back to France in 2013 to Rennes where he again achieved success by reaching the Coupe de France 2014.
In just over a decade of management Philippe Montanier has achieved some football stripes in France and Spain, but is he the right man to stem the Nottingham Forest decline?
In recent years, Nottingham Forest have been in a steady but consistent downward spiral down the Sky Bet Championship. After tempting the thought of Premier League football by finishing in playoff positions under Billy Davies in the 09/10 and 10/11 championship seasons, Forest have become a pretty irrelevant team in the Championship.
This can be illustrated by their league standings over the past four seasons. Forest have fallen at least two positions each year in the league standings since the 12/13 season, leading them to 16th in the league last season and nervously looking over their shoulders.
Many are quick to point the finger at controversial Chairman and part shareholder Fawaz Al-Hasawi for his lack of faith or patience shown to some managers such as Dougie Freeman and his inability to attract blockbuster names to such a historically relevant club. There has been speculation recently throughout the club that the Fawaz era is starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
It had been reported back in May by the Mirror that Greek investors were rumoured to be interested in a financial takeover at Forest, but these are only rumours, and the facts are, at this point Fawaz is still the chairman and thus is responsible for this appointment. With that being said, in my view, this appointment is another example of Forests failings under the Fawaz era.
Philippe Montanier may very well be a highly acclaimed player and manager in French football, but this is the first impact he has ever had on the English game. When you consider the list of established managers in the English game, this appears another bad bit of business once more from Fawaz.
Neil Warnock guided Rotherham United from the obis to the hill of safety last season and has been successful at the likes of, Crystal Palace, QPR and Sheffield United in recent memory. Neil Warnock is a man that knows the Sky Bet Championship, Neil Warnock is a man that for some reason rejected Fawaz or Fawaz rejected him.
Uwe Rosler is a man that was unfairly sacked by Leeds United, a man that guided Wigan into the playoffs in recent memory, a man that knows how to defeat arch rivals Derby County, Uwe Rosler is a man that was never linked with Forest. The list of available managers that know the English game goes on from the likes of Tim Sherwood, Nigel Adkins, Paul Lambert, Malky Mackay, Harry Redknapp, Ryan Giggs, Ian Holloway, Roberto Martinez, Brian McDermott, or one could even make an argument for the son of club legend Sir Brian Clough, Nigel, to be tempted from Forests opening day opponents Burton Albion. However, instead of many of these safer bet options, Forest have opted to gamble on an inexperienced (in English football terms) French national to stop the slide.
The SkyBet Championship looks set to be one of the toughest in years this coming season. Aston Villa and Newcastle United are backed by many to return immediately to the top flight. Many also look to Derby County to again have a say at the top of the table.
Some also argue that if Celino stays out of the footballing affairs at Elland Road, Leeds United may also be a dark horse for the coming season. What do all of these teams have in common? They have all appointed proven managers in English football, in particular, Derby County with Nigel Pearson. Forest have however opted for a different route and one that appears risky at best.
It is difficult to fully assess how successful Montanier will be at the City Ground, but it is undoubtedly a bold move by the club when you consider the other proven managerial names that were out there. Only time will tell but if the recent past has taught us anything about Nottingham Forest under the Fawaz era, results will have to come quick and fast in a competitive Championship league or Montanier may be forgotten as quickly as he is discovered.
Featured Image – All Rights Reserved by Michael Hulf.