Whoever takes the hot seat at Nottingham Forest will know the risks. Aitor Karanka, the latest casualty, was the 10th consecutive manager not to have been in charge for a full season.

Before he left on Friday, Karanka had asked to quit on more than one occasion as his relationship with owner Evangelos Marinakis became ever more fractious and, eventually, untenable.

Marinakis’ takeover in May 2017 was supposed to signal the end of Forest’s revolving-door policy and the start of a bright new era, but neither Mark Warburton nor Karanka have lasted a whole season.

The owner’s frustration is born out of a burning desire to bring Premier League football back to the club.

Marinakis invested £25million in the summer but his apparent impatience threatens to undermine the overall goal and delay a return to the top tier for at least one more season.

Slavisa Jokanovic, who earned promotion to the Premier League with Watford and Fulham, is in pole position to take the job at Forest, with the club just four points shy of Derby in the play-off places. 

It would appear to be a decent opportunity for Jokanovic, but he would not be given a running start. Should he take the reins, he would inherit a side who are treading water.

Saturday’s vapid showing against lowly Reading means Forest have won one of their last eight games in all competitions, and Marinakis’ dream of top-flight football is in danger of being derailed.

Forest were rudderless. Reading bombarded them in the first half and could have been three up before the break, but instead had to settle for a solitary John Swift goal.

Forest’s plight was best summed up in the second half when captain Danny Fox lost his cool and was sent off after a tussle. Minutes later, right back Tendayi Darikwa lunged in on Danny Loader and was also sent off.

Forest’s miserable afternoon was rounded off by an own goal from Jack Robinson to hand Reading their first win in 12 games.

For Jose Gomes, who took over at relegation-threatened Reading just before Christmas, the three points were vital: ‘I liked the result a lot.’

Simon Ireland, Forest’s caretaker boss since Friday, admitted Karanka’s exit had affected the players in the build-up: ‘It was a bad day today. But we are more than capable of getting back into the play-offs.’

It does appear to be high stakes, high reward for Forest’s next manager: it’s Premier League or bust.


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