Neil Warnock: Why I Turned Down Nottingham Forest

WELL what a week that was. One minute I’m at home, a semi-retired football manager. The next I’m nearly in charge of Nottingham Forest.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t meant to be. Why? Well, it all stemmed from my meeting with the chairman, Fawaz Al-Hasawi.

I know Fawaz has come out and said that he doesn’t interfere with his manager, that he only offers an opinion.

Unfortunately, what he sees as interference and what I see as interference may not be the same. When we met on Monday, the first thing I said was that I wanted to sign Lee Peltier, who was out of favour with Leeds.

The second was that it was vitally important I was in charge for Tuesday’s game against Charlton. Everything was fine to that point.

The problem came when we began discussing the team for my first game. I wanted three up front, with Darius Henderson supported by Jamie Paterson, who I’d tried to sign for Leeds, and Jamie Mackie, who I worked with at QPR.

The chairman then told me – in his opinion – that Djamel Abdoun, an Algerian international, was the best player in the wide positions but that he hadn’t been given an opportunity under Billy Davies.

I said I’d have to see him in training before I played him as I didn’t know enough about him. But I’d been told by others that he wasn’t my type of player – that by all accounts he only ran forward and often left his full-back outnumbered.

No regrets

It was at that point I started to think ‘This isn’t for me’. And when I saw the team selection on Tuesday, I knew I’d made the right decision. Sure enough, Abdoun was in the team.

I can only assume caretaker boss Gary Brazil shared the chairman’s opinion. I’ve got no regrets and I wish them all the best because it’s a fabulous club. It’s a great job for somebody. A lot of people I know are Forest fans.

I even had Notts County boss Shaun Derry on the phone saying we should have a pre-season friendly! So there was more than a tinge of disappointment that it didn’t come off.

I felt then and I still feel now that I would have been the best shout. I only wanted a contract until the end of the season and it would have given the chairman a bit of breathing space to take his time and pick the right man.

Still, I did at least manage to sign a player for them in Peltier. Having persuaded him to come from Leeds, it was strange having to tell him I wouldn’t be there. It must have been a unique situation – I can’t imagine many people have signed a player for a club they didn’t manage!

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