Nottingham Forest’s Kuwaiti owners appointed former Aston Villa boss Alex McLeish as Forest’s 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 Web site. “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 fulfill our ambition of making it to the Premier League.”
McLeish was to begin work at the City Ground yesterday before taking charge of today’s home league clash against promotion-chasing Crystal Palace.
However, 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 revitalized after eight months out of the game following his Villa exit and cannot wait to get started on his new challenge.