The imminent appointment of Martin O’Neill as Nottingham Forest’s new manager came as a surprise to the masses, but with the backing of our loyal supporters it could turn out be a great one.
When the Guardian’s Daniel Taylor tweeted that the Irishman was close to being appointed by the Reds, there was reaction of shock among our supporters, myself included.
If I’m honest, Martin wasn’t my number one choice, I was looking at the likes of Slavisa Jokanovic or Carlos Carvalhal.
O’Neill’s last two jobs were with Sunderland and the Republic of Ireland respectively. As far as Sunderland are concerned, it’s clear to see that the club was eroding from within for quite some time.
An increasing list of coaches attempted to stop the haemorrhaging but were sticking plasters when all’s said and done.
International football is a totally different animal, and it became very predictable in the end for all concerned I suppose. That said, the Derry man achieved qualification to the 2016 European Championships where the boys in green famously beat Italy before losing to hosts and finalists France in the knockout stages.
Martin O’Neill has unfinished business as far as football management is concerned.
At 66 years of age he’d be forgiven for calling it a day and looking back upon the many accolades and major honours that he’s won within the game. I get the feeling that unlike at Aston Villa and Sunderland respectively, he finally has the right backing and of course a fanatical fanbase.
His record certainly speaks for itself.
He is one of only three men to have ever achieved the non league double, winning both the Conference and the FA Trophy with Wycombe Wanderers.
He’s won the treble in Scotland with Celtic, when Rangers were a sterner force to reckon with than the current side. And almost took the Hoops to European glory in the UEFA Cup.
Then there’s his achievements with Leicester City where he won two League Cup finals against all the odds. At Aston Villa he was narrowly beaten in the same competition by Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United too.
I’m sure that some will view O’Neill’s appointment as one to get the fans back onside but given the ambition of Evangelos Marinakis to take the club to the Premier League, I think the owner truly believes his candidate has what it takes.
I spoke to an old teammate of mine Larry Burrell who played under Martin O’Neill and he had nothing but praise for his former boss.
Larry said: “His man management was just brilliant, and he wasn’t influenced by big names either. For Martin it was all about getting the best out of each player, to the point where he altered the wage structure to reward ability and performance ahead of reputations.”
Larry went onto say: “Martin O’Neill would get to know you personally in order to get the very best out of you on the field of play. After rupturing my Achilles tendon, he brought his whole family to see me in the hospital, they were the very first ones through the door at visiting time, that’s the kind of manager he is!”
If we look back at the appointment of Mark Warburton it’s fair to say that many of our fans (myself included again) got it wrong.
We expected free flowing, expansive football and a promotion to boot. So, who’s to say that Martin O’Neill won’t surprise us all and make the most of an opportunity he’s craved for so long?
It’s a new beginning for all concerned and one that has every chance of working if we get behind Martin and give him the chance he deserves.