Sunday 24 February 2019

Keith Andrews sees trouble ahead after 'strange' Forest move for Martin O'Neill

Keith Andrews. Photo: Sportsfile
Keith Andrews. Photo: Sportsfile
Daniel McDonnell

Daniel McDonnell

Former Ireland midfielder Keith Andrews believes Nottingham Forest's move for Martin O'Neill is "strange" and "surprising".

And the Dubliner - a vocal critic of O'Neill during the final year of his Irish stay - is not convinced that his methods are the right fit for the promotion chasers.

He is also sceptical with regard to the set-up at Forest and how the Derryman will adjust to it given strong speculation that his predecessor Aitor Karanka was upset by the influence of the club hierarchy with regard to transfers and the team's style of play.

"I find it strange, the appointment," Andrews said yesterday.

"They've got big finances at the club, they've spent heavily and they've got a really good squad which should be in contention.

"The only explanation I could give would be the obvious historical link with Nottingham Forest. I wouldn't have thought the current owner would have bought into that drastically.

"When you look at the squad compiled it's got quite a continental flavour. I thought (Slavisa) Jokanovic would have been more of a natural fit, coming from Fulham where in a similar sort of way they buy the players - rather than the manager - with a hands-on role. I gather (that) is what has gone on at Forest so I'm slightly surprised."

Andrews doesn't envisage O'Neill being comfortable with a similar arrangement.

Greek owner Evangelos Marinakis is desperate to steer the club to the Premier League and has been praised for off-field improvements. But the final months of Karanka's brief stay were fraught.

"He (O'Neill) would be a traditional type of manager who wants to know exactly who the signings are and wants this and wants that.

"That's something you would like to think would be sorted out before he puts his signature to the contract.

"They (Forest) wanted a change in style of football," continued Andrews, who primarily covers the Championship in his work with Sky.

"Karanka came in and he is a disciple of Jose Mourinho. When he has had success as a manager, his Middlesbrough team wasn't particularly good to watch.

"The way they played this year, he is going against his principles and from what I believe he was being challenged heavily by the owner.

"The squad that is available to Martin is very talented, but it goes back to the point of what players need, millennial players... what they need in terms of detail in the build-up to games.

"Will they get that off Martin? I don't know. He certainly didn't give it to our players, so will he give it to those players on a daily basis?

"Will he flourish more in a club environment, being involved day-to-day, building up those relationships?

"There would have been a lot of sympathy for Martin in England. I've constantly fought that battle with people I work with in England and people in general because I don't go along with it.

"I think we are better and we should have better than what we showed. I'd put the blame for that firmly at the feet of the management team rather than the players.

"He's still held in high regard clearly by chairmen.

"I would have thought, ironically, the role he would have got would have been something along the likes of Stoke which we were looking at 12 months ago, because of the way they are run as a football club, with the family in charge."

Andrews - who was speaking at the launch of the SPAR FAI Primary School 5s - was not anticipating Roy Keane being part of the package and believes his reputation has suffered over the past 12 months.

However, he believes that the depth of Forest's reserves makes it a "great opportunity" for the new team.

Irish Independent

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