I know, I know. Telling a Forest fan to be more patient is like asking a blind man to try harder to see, or nagging at Messi to improve his dribbling. Insensitive, arrogant and barely possible. The Reds faithful will forever be renowned for its unstinting support, the visceral connection to the club even through the dark days of Platt and Fawaz, and even after twenty long, fatiguing years outside England’s elite tier, the fans stand up to be counted. However, I think it’s fair to say this season has, despite being on course for a highest league finish in 5 years, been one of the most dispiriting of them all. True, it’s had it’s peaks: reclaiming the Brian Clough trophy, doing the double over Middlesbrough; some mesmerising displays and goals from our record signing Joao Carvalho and Joe Lolley; a memorable New Years Day victory over Leeds and an enthralling 5-5 draw with Aston Villa.
But, regardless, the underlying feeling on Trentside is one of disappointment. Promises have been broken, loved ones have left and club legends have been vilified. The latter absolutely despicable, and our fanbase should be embarrassed. On myriad occasions I have been scrolling through twitter only to see “F*** Off O’Neill” or “Dinosaur out” from idiots that choose to call themselves Forest fans. Martin O’Neill has won two European Cups with this club and is an integral figure in the clubs history. It is vile, disrespectful, and some of the criticism undermining his managerial prowess is downright untrue. The man is a serial winner, succeeding at pretty much everywhere he has been as manager. Two League Cups at Leicester; three-time SPFL champion with Celtic; guided Villa to three 6th place finishes on the trot and and even lead ROI to the Euro 2016 round of 16. Substance over style and diligence in his players have been the overarching factors, but that’s not say to say it has been Allardyce-esque long-ball stuff and if you listen to his recent interviews, he is determined to implement a positive footballing philosophy into this Forest side. What we’ve seen for the last 3 months is him doing all he can to try and get the necessary results – which, admittedly, he failed to do so. Yet, and some don’t realise this, he was not in a situation whereby he could walk into a dressing room somewhat bereft from Karanka’s departure, outline this attacking, proactive, front-foot football on a squad that was built around a reactive system.
That’s not to say he hasn’t made mistakes at Forest. Ostracising Carvalho, banking on goals and performances from Murphy and mistaking Yates for a No.10. But, and this is an enticing prospect for any Forest fan, with time and acceptance from fans, we just might see a little less of old Daryl as O’Neill wipes his glasses and begins to fathom his incompetence. We find ourselves back at the buzzword of patience. Hard to ask for more of it from fans, yet entirely necessary if O’Neill really is going to really get to grips with this squad and fulfil his project here at the City Ground.