Former legend back at City Ground
Ex-Celtic chief O’Neill seeks return of glory days at Forest
Martin O’Neill during his time at Celtic: now returns to City Ground (pic: SNS Group)
It is two decades since Nottingham Forest were relegated from England’s top flight and 18 permanent managers later the club has recalled one of its past heroes to attempt to reclaim the glory days.
Former Celtic and, latterly Republic of Ireland manager Martin O’Neill, will return to the City Ground in the hope that he can do what all those who have tried and failed since he won the English title and European Cup under Brian Clough.
Fellow former Celt Roy Keane, who assisted O’Neill with the Republic’s national team, is expected to join him at the Championship club, currently ninth in the table.
They will arrive at a club which has welcomed and spewed out a long list of hopefuls, including former Rangers chief Mark Warburton for nine months in 2017. Among his predecessors were ex-Motherwell coach Billy Davies for two spells (Jan 2009 to June 2011 and Feb 2013 to March 2014) and current Scotland boss Alex McLeish (Dec 2012 to Feb 2013).
Under new and, apparently more stable management Forest embarked on another fresh start under Aitor Karanka who, last summer, smashed the transfer record with the £13.2 million capture of Benfica midfielder Joao Carvalho, part of a £25m splurge on new players.
After the departure of former owner Fawaz Al Hasawi, there had been talk of a revolution, but new owner Evangelos Marinakis, a Greek shipping magnate, quickly found himself looking for another head coach after Karanka, who was appointed only last January, resigned last week amid reports of behind the scenes clashes.
O’Neill, 66, becomes the club’s 11th full-time manager since June 2011. He is expected to recall Joe Worrall from his loan spell at Rangers due to the shortage of defensive options.