EPLFootballTop 10

10 Greatest Nottingham Forest Managers Ever

Nottingham Forest are one of the biggest football clubs in England. They have a rich history with lots of trophies. Many great managers have played a vital role in that. In this article, let us have a look at some of the greatest Nottingham Forest managers ever.

Based on the success, win percentage, style of play and fans’ opinion, here are the ten greatest Nottingham Forest managers ever.

10. Colin Calderwood [2006–08]

Embed from Getty Images

Calderwood became Forest manager in 2006, after a successful spell with Northampton Town. His first year saw them finish fourth only to lose out to Yeovil Town over two legs in the play-offs. They came back stronger under Calderwood the next season though, finishing second to gain promotion to the Championship. He was sacked the following December with the club in the Championship relegation places.

9. Billy Davies [2009–11 & 2013–14]

Embed from Getty Images

Billy Davies had two spells as manager of Nottingham Forest. He first became the manager in 2009 and his two full seasons in charge saw him lead Forest to the Championship play-offs on both occasions finishing third in 2009-10 and sixth the year after. However, both the times they failed to gain promotion and as a result, Davies was relieved of his duties.

Forest once again turned to him during their turbulent 2012-13 campaign. He almost guided them to another play-off but they came just up short and finished eighth that term. However, his stint was overshadowed by a thorny relationship with the media and other controversies, which resulted in his sacking in 2014.

8. Dave Bassett [1997–99]

Embed from Getty Images

With Stuart Pierce failing to keep Nottingham Forest in the Premier League, Dave Bassett took over the manager’s seat at the Midlands’ club in March 1997. It was too late to prevent them from being relegated, but they were promoted back to the Premier League at the first attempt under Bassett’s charge after winning the 1997–98 Division One championship.

Forest made a poor start in the following season, a lot of which could be contributed to the three-way feud between the board, Bassett and star striker Pierre van Hooijdonk. Bassett was sacked in January 1999, with “player power” cited as a reason.

7. Harry Radford [1889–97]

Harry Radford was not an official manager, as his title was Secretary. But he did everything a normal manager would, as clubs didn’t have managers back then. Before him, the club was running in an unsystematic way, but he got them into shape and eventually, Forest were elected into the Football League in 1892. All this makes him one of the greatest Nottingham Forest managers ever.

6. Steve Cooper [2021-present]

Embed from Getty Images

Forest had gone through 14 bosses in 10 years and were rock bottom of the Championship when Chris Hughton was sacked in September 2021. They had become the ultimate example of a “sleeping giant” in English football. Then came Steve Cooper.

Having taken charge of the team at the foot of the Championship, he got them promoted to the Premier League. This may be Cooper’s crowning glory, but his short managerial career so far has been outstanding. Having plied his trade in England’s youth set-up, when he won the U17 World Cup in 2017. Next season will be an even bigger test for the Welsh.

5. Johnny Carey [1963–68]

Embed from Getty Images

Johnny Carey became manager of the club in 1963, having already managed four different teams. However, his greatest success as a manager came with Forest. Sticking to his style of attacking play, he presided over a resurgence at the City Ground, resulting in a thrilling 1966/67 campaign which saw Forest finish runners-up to Man Utd in the title race and reach the FA Cup semi-finals.

Thereafter, though, the team faltered alarmingly and in December 1968, after half a season without a home win, he was dismissed. Overall, he is regarded as one of the greatest Nottingham Forest managers ever.

4. Frank Clark [1993–96]

Embed from Getty Images

Clark became the manager of the club following the departure of Brian Clough. Clough’s later years as manager of the club were not great, eventually resulting in relegation from the Premier League. As a result, a lot was expected of Clark, and he did not disappoint.

He guided Forest to second place in the First Division in 1993/94, securing promotion back to the Premier League. He then picked up two Premier League Manager of the Month awards in 1994/95. Clark also picked up the LMA Manager of the Year award that year, as Forest finished third in the Premier League. He was sacked by the club in 1996, after a poor run of form.

3. Harry Hallam [1897-1909]

Harry Hallam managed Nottingham Forest between 1897 and 1909. Hallam managed Nottingham Forest for 462 games which is the third-highest ever. He managed the club to their FA Cup triumph in 1898. He also had a win percentage of 40.7%, which is one of the best among all Forest managers. Harry Hallam earns his place among the greatest Nottingham Forest managers ever.

2. Billy Walker [1939–60]

Embed from Getty Images

Billy Walker managed the club for 650 games over 21 years. He earned a promotion to the First Division in 1956–57 and an FA Cup final triumph two years later. Walker was a motivator and father figure rather than a tactician. He valued the input and experience of senior players and frowned at the march of chalkboard strategists.

He also became the only manager to win a Silverware both before and after the Second World War, as he had won the FA Cup with Sheffield Wednesday in 1935. His win percentage of 41.8% as Forest manager is also elite.

1. Brian Clough [1975–93]

Embed from Getty Images

Forest were in 13th place in the old Division Two when Brian Clough took charge of the club. During his 18 years as manager, he led Forest from the bottom of Division Two to winning the First Division Championship in 1978, followed by two consecutive European Cup wins in 1979 and 1980 and four League Cup victories.

His reputation was built on taking traditionally smaller clubs to great successes. First, he did it at Forest’s rivals Derby, where in the space of a few seasons they went from perennial second-tier club to champions of England and, a year later, European Cup semifinalists. He replicated the feat at Nottingham Forest, a second-division club that within a couple of years won a domestic title and two European Cups.

This has been argued as one of the greatest managerial feats in the English Football League’s history to date. It took tremendous intelligence and charisma to pull off, and Clough had plenty of both. He was awarded Manager of the Year in 1978.

Checkout: 10 Greatest Nottingham Forest Players Ever


A sports addict! @subhamchaurasia

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.