Forest weigh up shock O'Neill return
Published 23:00 21/08/10 By Paul Smith
Martin O'Neill is being lined up for a sensational return to Nottingham Forest.
Forest are weighing up an ambitious move for the former Aston Villa manager as their relationship with current boss Billy Davies reaches breaking point.
It would be the kind of recruitment coup to match the arrival of Brian Clough in 1975.
And, of course, O’Neill was one of the Forest players who saw their careers at the City Ground transformed by Old Big ’Ead.
As a player O’Neill spent a decade at Forest. He arrived as an emerging young talent from Northern Irish football with Distillery in 1971.
Ten years later he moved to Norwich with an assortment of honours including two European Cups, a League title and two League Cups.
He also had a wealth of experience after being managed by the unique Clough.
O’Neill, 58, left Villa two weeks ago after four years as manager. He has an impressive managerial record in which he has never been sacked and throughout his days with Wycombe Wanderers, Norwich, Leicester, Celtic and Villa has seen him team progress season by season.
His assistant-manager for many years has been a man who was even more popular in his days as Forest playing legend, John Robertson.
Robbo was the brilliant left-winger who sparked Clough to deliver the tactical insight to his players: “Just give the ball to the fat lad on the left wing. He’ll do the rest for you.”
The prospect of an O’Neill-Robertson alliance would be seen by many fans as their dream ticket. But persuading the pair to move to a Championship club may be a huge task for the Forest hierarchy.
Forest – with just two points from their first three games – must first resolve the situation of current boss Davies.
Davies, 46, publicly denies he is at odds with the Forest hierarchy and wealthy owner Nigel Doughty. But insiders at the Midlands club claim Davies can be abrasive and demanding.
He effectively blamed the Forest board for failing to ensure they got promoted last season following a lack of activity in the January transfer window.
Rumours were rife in the summer that Davies’s tenure was coming to an end and the club had approached a rival manager about succeeding him.
Despite his outspoken criticism of the board. Davies has no intention of changing his approach.
He said: “It’s not going to stop me coming out and telling people what I think we need to improve.
“We needed two players in January to finish off the job. We need three to five now.”
But Davies vehemently denied he was actively trying to get himself sacked.