Championship Analysis – McClaren and Millen depart as Nottingham Forest and Bristol City’s struggles mount

Steve McClaren left his post as manager of Nottingham Forest on Sunday evening, while Keith Millen was shown the door at Bristol City on Monday in a dramatic 24 hours in the Championship.

McLaren resigned as Forest boss following his side’s 3-1 defeat at home to Birmingham in Sunday’s fixture, leaving the club in 21st position, though it is believed he was planning to walk away from the City Ground regardless of the result. The news is not as surprising as it might have been. After taking over from Billy Davies in the summer, McClaren quickly found himself frustrated at the lack of resources at his disposal, and as the new season approached he made public his concern that the club was behind others in its preparations.

The former England manager has always displayed a chirpy demeanour in the past, even during the lowest moments of his reign with the national team, but this has vanished in recent weeks, and after the club’s defeat to Derby three weeks ago he told the BBC: I said before it is work in progress, I should’ve said it is a lot of work in progress.

There were signs of a potential turnaround when Forest ground out a win away at Watford last weekend, but McLaren’s grumpy persona returned in midweek when the club was thrashed at Burnley.

My assessment? Rubbish. Unacceptable for the fans who travelled. I didn’t see it coming but it seems to be the story of the season – one step forward and three steps back,” he commented after the 5-1 reverse.

The sacking of Davies shortly after Forest’s play-off defeat against Swansea seemed harsh at the time, and the club’s woeful start to this season suggests the move has backfired significantly.

Millen’s sacking at Bristol City was sadly an inevitable, albeit emotional decision, as he had served for 12 years at the club as a player and a coach. He reportedly held talks with chairman Colin Sexstone following Tuesday’s match against Reading, in which City were beaten 3-2 despite holding a 2-0 lead with 15 minutes left. Some sources claim Sexstone was willing to back Millen for the time being, but the Robins’ 5-0 hammering at Blackpool on Saturday, dumping them to the foot of the table, clearly sealed his fate.

With no games in the Championship this weekend due to international fixtures, fans at both the City Ground and Ashton Gate now have the opportunity to breathe and reflect on recent events.

Doncaster were the biggest winners on Saturday, continuing their mini-revival under Dean Saunders with a 2-1 win at Peterborough, enough to lift them outside the relegation zone for the first time since week two.

It has been a strange few days at the top end of the table, with no team making significant strides in the two sets of fixtures, perhaps best epitomised by Middlesbrough, who remain unbeaten in second despite stuttering to their third goalless draw in a row against Reading on Saturday. Derby stay third despite being comprehensively knocked off their East Midlands throne by Leicester City, due to West Ham only gaining a single point from their two fixtures, which came in a 2-2 draw at Crystal Palace on Saturday. Southampton’s lead at the top is now two points, recovering from defeat to Cardiff in midweek to dispatch Watford 4-0 at St Mary’s.

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