Roy Keane linked with return to Forest after shock sacking
Published 27/12/2012 | 05:00
ROY KEANE has been linked with a return to Nottingham Forest after manager Sean O'Driscoll was sacked just hours after his team had beaten Leeds 4-2 to maintain their challenge for promotion.
Keane watched that match from the directors' box at the City Ground and his presence there sparked speculation that he was set for a return to the club where he started his professional career.
However, it's understood that the Corkman's trip to his old stomping ground was arranged long before the club's owners made the shock decision to change manager.
When the news broke of O'Driscoll's shock sacking and photos emerged of Keane watching from the directors' box, the rumour mill went into overdrive.
Keane expressed an interest in the Forest job last summer when the club's Kuwaiti owners dispensed with Steve Cotterill, but he lost out to O'Driscoll on that occasion and it would represent quite a U-turn if the hierarchy suddenly decided that they now wanted the former Manchester United skipper, who has previously managed Sunderland and Ipswich Town.
The nature of O'Driscoll's departure suggests Forest have a candidate in mind and chairman Fawaz al-Hasawi said they are looking for "an ambitious manager with Premier League experience." He also tweeted last night that he had already made contact with a "PL manager" and would be meeting them today. (Thursday)
Mark Hughes, Roberto Di Matteo and Owen Coyle would also fit into that category.
The sacking will worry the growing Irish contingent at Forest, with Simon Cox and Andy Reid enjoying a new lease of life under O'Driscoll and Derry City's Stephen McLaughlin agreeing a move there last week.
Cox reacted with surprise on Twitter. "So we win 4-2 and the manager gets the sack," he said. "Gutted for Sean, pleasure to work under. Wonder who will walk through the door next."
Forest chairman Al Hasawi said: "The timing of our decision may look a little odd after the win over Leeds but sometimes you need to make changes with the long-term future in mind.
"Sometimes those changes need to be made from a position of strength rather than weakness and that is what we are trying to do. We are looking to bring in an ambitious manager with Premier League experience."
He admitted the decision was tough on O'Driscoll, adding: "We cannot speak highly enough of Sean as a man. He was appointed at an extremely difficult time for the club and can count himself unlucky to have lost his job with the team just one point away from the top six.
"But we have a responsibility to look to the future for this great club because we have huge ambitions for it. We knew when we bought the club in the summer that it would take time for the players we bought in to settle but that process has taken longer than we anticipated. And with the transfer window approaching, we feel it's the right time to make a change."