Martin O’Neill, appointed on Tuesday as Forest manager after 38 years away from the City Ground. A decision where sentimentality overruled sense. It has been a mixed 38 years, for O’Neill, it must be said. 32 of those have been as head coach in a period where football has evolved at a pace unprecedented in any other walks of life. Player power, false 9’s and laceless boots continue to irk the traditionalists and Martin O’Neill has been around for a long, long time. Failure at Forest will ,doubtless, be the death of his managerial career. He has 18 months and I’m skeptical.
For me, the appointment lacked logic. Marinakis bemoaned Karanka’s style of football so appointed O’Neill, infamous for the insipid football in his final months as Republic of Ireland manager. ‘He didn’t have the players at his disposal’- nonsense. Look at Eddie Howe and his free-flowing, attacking football at Bournemouth with minnows like Simon Francis and Steve Cook. And it is not like Forest have Iniesta’s and Xavi’s lying about the place. Marinakis bemoaned Karanka’s supposed inability to invigorate his players so appointed O’Neill, infamous for his fall out with Irish Matthew Doherty after the full back labelled his approach ‘a bit old school’.
Marinakis is no die-hard Forest fan but he will have known what O’Neill means to these Forest fans. He will have known that in a time of great anguish, Forest fans could endear themselves to this club legend. But lets not get it twisted, O’Neill was not only hired solely for his affiliations with the club- the man is an incredibly successful manager and an unbelievably intelligent one too. He led Aston Villa to 3 consecutive 6th place finishes between 2007 and 2010, spearheaded a Celtic resurgence at the turn of the century after a decade in the shadow of Rangers and before that he managed a Leicester side to promotion after joining halfway through the season in 1995, then finished in the top 10 for 4 consecutive seasons which will really stand out to Forest fans. Yet so will his last year with Ireland where the crazy game that we call football had unmistakably overtaken him.
You pray, as a Forest fan, that his diligent mentality will drive him to learn from those past mistakes but we are clutching at straws really. “He just told us to go and play five-a-sides,” said Doherty on an Irish radio. It was reported that O’Neill then said he ‘would give Doherty a piece of mind’. A rollercoaster looms for wounded Forest fans so forget it – bring in Keane as well just for the fireworks.