Wednesday 24 July 2019

'He can be a handful' - Martin O'Neill expresses hope that 'special' Roy Keane will join him at Nottingham Forest

Nottingham Forest manager Martin O'Neill during a press conference at the City Ground, Nottingham. Mike Egerton/PA Wire.
Nottingham Forest manager Martin O'Neill during a press conference at the City Ground, Nottingham. Mike Egerton/PA Wire.

Daniel McDonnell at the City Ground

New Nottingham Forest manager Martin O'Neill is hoping to renew his working relationship with Roy Keane.

Keane, who both played for Forest and assisted O'Neill with the Republic of Ireland, has been strongly linked with a return to the club.

Negotiations have taken place this week without a firm resolution being reached and there is no guarantee he will be installed ahead of Saturday's game with Bristol City.

The new boss has already been joined at Forest by coach Steve Guppy and goalkeeping coach Seamus McDonagh who were part of his Irish backroom team.

O'Neill said: "I would dearly like him (Keane) to join us. Since this has happened very quickly he has a number of things to sort out himself. There's a spot open for him and I hope it happens. It may not, as he has a few things to sort out himself both personally and professionally.

"He was a great asset to me at Republic of Ireland and we had some really great days.

"He can be a handful. He was a special player, a fantastic footballer who drove Manchester United on for 10 years and you don't win those things just sitting around."

O'Neill is honoured to be returning to the club with which he enjoyed so much success with during ten years at the City ground as a player, winning two European Cups.

O'Neill said: "It has probably not sunk in yet as things have happened very quickly. It goes without saying that it's a privilege and an honour to be manager of this club. I had 10 years here as a player, and the last five were pretty exceptional.

"It's a long time since the club has been in the big league and I am going to see if I can rectify that. It's the only reason to be here. The club has slipped a bit in recent times but hopefully we can rectify that.

"I have to get to know the players in ultra quick time, but that's okay. This is it, this is what I am meant to do. I'm here for 18 months and if I can't get them up then I will hand it over to someone else."

Forest sit ninth in the Championship table, four points off the playoff places with 19 matches remaining.

The 66-year-old admitted that he had turned down the job in the past but felt that the timing was right on this occasion.

"As I sit here I possibly think that - maybe - there was some sort of destiny attached to it but maybe you can get a bit carried away with it," he continued.

"There were occasions where it didn't seem the right thing to do, and you wondered if you would get another opportunity.

"They were heady days (his playing career), for a provincial career to do these things. But I also say, 'Don't live in the past.'

"We need to try and carve some sort of niche here for the present players. I'll throw everything into it. I don't think there's any such thing in the game now as long term projects.

"I've maintained a great enthusiasm for football. But I'm well aware of the pitfalls of management."

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