A team on the brink of the relegation fight who cannot buy a win as the games tick away: Frank Barlow has been here before.

It is virtually a year to the day that the well-travelled coach was handed joint control at a Nottingham Forest side trying to stay afloat.

Forest were four points off the bottom four with 13 games to go. They finished like a train with only one more loss under Barlow and Ian McParland and only missed out on the play-offs with a last-day draw at City.

Now he is back at the Intersonic Stadium in the home dressing-room, looking to help David Wetherall with another survival mission.

"There is some similarity between the two," admitted Barlow, "and the only difference is that I had already worked at Forest. I've got a lot of catching up to do here and quickly.

"But you tend to find that this league is fairly congested, particularly among that middle section. Lose a couple of games and you're quickly drawn in - win them and it's suddenly an awfully different picture."

Barlow knows what he's talking about after 40 years in the game as player, coach and manager. Wetherall introduced him to the players today by saying it would be quicker to name the clubs he had not been involved with.

Barlow said: "Sometimes it's been forced and other times I've moved by choice. You've got to accept the ones that stay for long periods at clubs are few and far between.

"You've got Dario Gradi coming on Saturday with Crewe but he's an exception, along with Alex (Ferguson) in the Premier League.

"People always talk about stability - but I've been in this game a long time and they've been talking like that all the time I've been there."

Barlow, who remembers Wetherall as an 18-year-old at Sheffield Wednesday, got the call yesterday afternoon. He did not take much persuading.

He said: "Hopefully the situation is beneficial for both of us. You tend to find that things happen very quickly in football and just accept it being part of the job.

"It's sad in a lot of ways because whatever happens, however it's planned, the change is always quite sudden."

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