Billy Davies 'can't wait' to return to management

By Richard WilsonBBC Scotland
Billy Davies holds the Championship trophy aloft after winning the play-off
Billy Davies holds the Championship trophy aloft after guiding Derby County to victory over West Bromwich Albion at Wembley in May 2007

It is almost two years since Billy Davies lost his job at Nottingham Forest and became a former manager.

It scarcely seems believable that a man of his passion, intensity, ambition and sheer force of personality could have tolerated such an absence from the game.

"There are many reasons for staying out as long," Davies says, and he is too forthright to succumb to vagueness. He has earned well during his managerial career, so there is no financial imperative. His sons have been growing up, and both are now at university, while he has felt it important to spend time with his parents at this stage in their lives.

All of that, though, is enabled by Davies' success in management. He can reel off the stats and achievements, but they are worth dwelling on. Whenever he has managed a side in the English Championship for a full season, Davies has never failed to at least steer them into the play-offs.

Quickfire - Billy Davies

In the same league, he has never failed to reach the 79-point mark, and nobody has won more manager of the month awards in the Championship. He broke long-standing club records at Nottingham Forest, Derby and Preston, the three sides he has managed in England.

Yet it has been two years. There was also a 13-month spell out of the game after leaving Derby, despite having led the club to promotion to the Premiership in the first year of a three-year plan.

'Whispering campaign'

Davies has an answer. He believes that a "whispering campaign" has been conducted against him, resulting in the portrayal of him as a difficult man to manage, one constantly at odds with directors and the media, as a manager who ignores young players.

"This is a results-driven industry," Davies says. "All I want people to do is look at the success of each club we've been at, look at the results, focus on player relationship, on staff relationship, on economics from when we took over to when we left.

"If he is such a difficult man to please and such a hard man to get on with, why does he get this success, why does he have such good relationships with players, why do his teams win, why is his record so good?"

By his own admission, spending two spells at Nottingham Forest and one at Derby - two clubs 14 miles apart and caught up in a fierce rivalry - has impacted on his career.

"The first time that I spoke to Nigel Doughty [the previous Forest owner], it was clear that Mr X preferred another option [as manager]," Davies says.

"When I joined Nottingham Forest, Mr X advised me that he will be using certain individuals in the Midlands area to put out information, in the media.

Nottingham Forest manager Billy Davies jokes with coach Julian Darby and Jonathan Greening
Billy Davies, while manager of Nottingham Forest, jokes with coach Julian Darby and Jonathan Greening

"Very interestingly, it's the same individuals today who still say the same thing."

When Davies first arrived at Forest, the club was in the midst of a relegation battle. He steered them to safety and then to the play-offs the following season.

Davies is fiercely competitive, blunt, unabashed, but just as capable of wit and empathy.

Players talk of his attention to detail, his range of coaching sessions, his tactical awareness. He is demanding, of himself as much as those around him. Ambition compels Davies, he wants to work at the highest level and feels frustrated that he has yet to achieve that on his own terms.

When he won the Premiership play-off with Derby, he knew that the board would sell the club once in the top-flight and had been told that another manager had already been sounded out. In hindsight, Davies would have preferred to have been let go that summer, rather than work for a spell in the Premier League but without the resources he felt were required to stay up.

"The chairman, Peter Gatsby, made it clear to us that was the intent, to get promotion and then sell the club," Davies says. "Peter said to me that I would get what I was due, we are selling, the club is moving in a different direction with different people.

"My disappointment was that I felt the Derby board should have done that in the summer. Looking back, how could they remove me in the summer?

Billy Davies's managerial journey
MotherwellOctober 1998 to September 2001
PrestonAugust 2004 to June 2006
Derby CountyJune 2006 to November 2007
Nottingham ForestJanuary 2009 to June 2011 and February 2013 to March 2014

"We'd just got promotion and they had to wait for public perception. I put forward a list of players, you give them four or five names at different levels, and I never handled the negotiations. So they decided to go for a certain level and cost of player."

Davies acknowledges that football managers need to "manage up" with the board and "manage down" with the players. He insists that he had "a great relationship" with Derek Shaw at Preston North End, Gatsby at Derby, Doughty at Forest and in his second spell at the City Ground, Fawaz Al Hasawi, who Davies remains in contact with.

He has spoken to clubs in England and Scotland about recent managerial vacancies. He wants back in to the game, at a club that shares his ambition, and he wants to right some perceived wrongs.

"I am a much better manager than I was," Davies says. "None of us are perfect. But don't you dare believe that I've got no desire to get back into the game. I'm ready to achieve greater, to achieve better, with more desire and more ambition. I can't wait to get back in."