Championship Preview: Davies returns to Nottingham Forest

As Alex McLeish's ill-fated 40-day reign comes to an end, the Scot has returned to the City Ground this week and begins his second spell in charge against struggling Bristol City
There have now been 14 managerial changes in a mere five-month period of the Championship season after Billy Davies returned to Nottingham Forest to replace Alex McLeish, who resigned this week.

McLeish walked out on the club due to differences with the Al Hasawi family, who own the Reds, with a failed deadline day move for George Boyd (rejected due to a failed eye test) thought to be the straw that broke the camel's back.

Davies managed Forest between 2008-11 and had a frosty relationship with the club's previous hierarchy but, as his side prepare to face Bristol City on Saturday, Davies insists he only has one target upon his return to the City Ground.

Bristol City
Sheff Wed
C Palace (Fri)
Nottm Forest
Hull City (17.20)

“The supporters should be applauded for their loyalty,” Davies told the club's official website. “I’m not talking about their loyalty to me – I’m talking about their loyalty to the club as a whole.

“Everything we do is for this club and trying to get it back into the Premier League. I would urge the fans to get behind this club, get behind the chairman and the players.

“Don’t expect us to win 17-0 every week because it won’t happen. There will be highs and lows but over a period of time I hope we will get back to where we belong.

“I’m very excited about what lies ahead, the challenges that lie ahead.

“I’ve said before that when I left I felt I had unfinished business and I really meant that. It wasn’t a publicity stunt.

“It’s a wonderful football club with wonderful fans who want what we all want – to see Forest back in the Premier League.

“I want to try and finish the job with the players, the staff, the fans and especially with the new owners. We’ll give it our best shot and see where it takes us.”

Fawaz Al Hasawi has been criticised for his quick trigger finger with managers since taking over, with Davies the fourth permanent manager at the club since the Saudi's investment seven months ago, and the chairman is aware that he must placate the fans.

He added: “It’s not an easy issue but we will work to make it a reality and I think Billy has the vision to take us there. We are not far from the play-offs to be honest, six points away with 16 games to come.

“You never know who is going to win in the Championship but I’m sure Billy Davies will do the right thing for us. I’m sure we will do well but you never know what the future holds.

“I want to make the fans happy and take Forest to the Premier League and then perhaps people will be satisfied with me.”

A near top-versus-bottom clash sees high-flying Leicester travel to the Championship's basement side Peterborough.

As turmoil descends on the City Ground, a swift improvement is needed under Billy Davies. The Reds have not kept a clean sheet for almost two months and the former Sunderland centre-back could be the one to inspire a new defensive solidity.
The Posh's talisman was bizarrely denied a deadline day move to Nottingham Forest and is likely to leave London Road at the end of the season when his contract expires, but is desperately needed at his creative best by Darren Ferguson.
The goals have dried up for the England starlet in recent weeks and Ian Holloway will be looking for the Manchester United-bound attacker to get back to somewhere near his best as the Eagles try to revive their fading top-two hopes.
The Foxes have won their last five games storming into the race for second place behind runaway leaders Cardiff and goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel believes his side can continue that run.

"They say losing becomes a habit," the Dane told The Leicester Mercury. "But so does winning. We are doing that at the moment and we have to keep it going.

"We have a brilliant team. The players in front of me are all top-class and all bring something different to the table.

"There are a lot of games coming up but that is good. You look forward to those types of months. Hopefully, we can come out with some good results which will spur us on even further."

The Posh have dropped back to the bottom in the face of recent good form from Barnsley and Bristol City, but Darren Ferguson has backed his team to boost their survival hopes, despite the tricky fixture.

He told reporters: "Leicester are a very strong team and in my opinion they have the best squad in the division. They are in very good form and will feel they have a chance of catching Cardiff City at the top of the league.

"I am looking forward to the game though, we are determined to get the right result ahead of the break next week."

Elsewhere in the promotion hunt, Friday night's game sees two sides in the top six, Watford and Crystal Palace, square off at Vicarage Road.

The Hornets have won six of their last eight league games, drawing close to Leicester and Hull City in the race for second, and experienced goalkeeper Manuel Almunia is predicting more of the same against the south London side.

“We understand their attacking threats,” he told the club's official website. “But it’s good for us as we can use our counter attacking game.

“We always play in the same way. They have some very good players, and we will prepare for that, but every team does. It’s better to analyse the team as a whole than to focus on individual players. We have to worry more on how we play, than the opposition.

“We have to approach each game in the same way. Every team deserves respect and Crystal Palace are having a good season, but you never know with the Championship.”

Ian Holloway has seen his side win only two of their last 12 games in all competitions but after victory against Charlton last time out is eyeing a continued revival against Gianfranco Zola's men.

He told reporters: "Everything's vital from now on in. What's vital to me is that we go there and try and play a decent calibre of football, try and take them on and win the match.

"We'll try and take them on. If we can win again we're back in the mix but I think we're in the mix anyway.

"The next two games in particular, Watford and Middlesbrough, you could call them vital but I'd rather look at it as a fantastic opportunity to see where we are and enjoy it.

"Whatever happens I will be breathing on Saturday morning, whether we win, draw or lose I'll be ready to go again and I think the lads will."

The week in Headlines
  • Bristol City unveiled plans to redevelop Ashton Gate this week and were further boosted by the news that experienced defender Louis Carey did not break his leg in a tackle with Blackburn's Markus Olsson in the week that saw the Scot stretchered from the pitch.
  • Birmingham have revealed that a consortium headed by an unnamed sports management company is interested in buying out the club as their financial woes under Carson Yeung deepen.
  • Benik Afobe has joined Millwall on loan until the end of the season. The Arsenal youngster had spent the first half of the campaign with Bolton.
  • Ian Holloway was coy on rumours that Crystal Palace could be set to swoop for Peter Odemwingie. The Nigerian's desperation to seal a move to London saw him left outside QPR's Loftus Road stadium on deadline day, as no agreement had been made between the Hoops and his current club West Brom.
  • Sheffield Wednesday boss Dave Jones has contested a Football Association charge for improper conduct after clashing with Brighton coach Charlie Oatway in the two sides' clash last week. He will attend a personal hearing next week.
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