Sam Allardyce has waded into the Forest Green debacle, claiming owner Dale Vince has got to take responsibility for the club’s decline.
Speaking on the No Tippy Tappy Football podcast, the former Bolton boss reflected on their shock sacking of Troy Deeney just six games into his tenure as boss. He is the sixth manager to leave the club since Mark Cooper stepped down in 2021, and now they’re looking for the fourth manager in less than a year.
Deeney’s dismissal certainly raised a few eyebrows, but it seemed all was not well when he was forced to apologise for controversial remarks made about players in recent weeks. Forest Green, promoted to League One in 2022, are now rock bottom of League Two and looking destined for a return to the National League, a division they escaped in 2017.
Whilst management and recruitment is often blamed for a club’s demise, Allardyce believes owner Dale Vince should look at himself, given his actions in recent months,
“The problems they’re facing at Forest Green are just like those of everybody else,” said former England manager Allardyce. “The recruitment team there were brilliant, and they went up to League One, then their recruitment became poor, and they dropped down to League Two and are in danger of falling out of the league again.
“The owner has to take responsibility for that; I know that the owner made a massive commitment to Duncan Ferguson but never listened to him. He listened to his director of football he decided to employ from Brentford, but I don’t believe he’s there anymore.
Ferguson left the club after his requests for an assistant manager were turned down. He had tried to lure Forfar manager Ray McKinnon to Gloucestershire, but that was seemingly the straw that broke the camel’s back. Allardyce believes that was the wrong move by Vince, alluding to the fact he may not have been able to sign players he wanted, as well as an assistant.
“He lost a great manager in Duncan Ferguson, a great personality, who knew everything about football there is to know and wanted to be successful in his first manager job, but got totally blown over because he couldn’t sign any of his players.”
Now, with Deeney gone as well, Allardyce believes Vince’s project is in trouble. The controversial owner, who is plotting a new stadium for the club, has to shoulder that blame, according to Big Sam.
“Now you’ve got the opposite; the owner needed to look at himself and support the manager he had in Deeney, turn the players around that need turning around, and start going back in the right direction. It becomes a difficult job once the rot has set in. Now they’re down at the bottom of the league, and that rot has set in, that takes a lot of turning around, so let’s see where they go now.”
Forest Green now face the challenging task of clawing back a seven-point deficit between themselves and Colchester in 22nf, starting tomorrow with a trip to play-off chasing Gillingham.
Big Sam is absolutely right. Dale Vince does have to shoulder the blame for this – Forest Green might be the champion of all things green, making them fashionable, but among fans of lower league football, they’re not all they’re cracked up to be.
They’re thought to inflate wages by paying over the odds for players, and some of the antics of previous boss Mark Cooper made them thoroughly unpopular. Vince’s own attitude has, at times, alienated other supporters, and whilst they rely on their left-wing ethos and sustainable mantra, they’re actually a living contradiction. They claim to be the world’s most sustainable football club, but they’re wholly unsustainable in terms of finances.
That isn’t the issue here, of course. The issue here is a trigger-happy chairman sacking manager after manager, thinking there’s going to be a change of fortune. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different outcome. That’s three managers in a year, all gone, and yet the team still keeps losing.
Perhaps the manager isn’t the problem?