Martin O’Neill wants Roy Keane to join him at Nottingham Forest

 

1:16

Martin O’Neill explains why he wants Roy Keane to once again join his coaching team, after he took over as Nottingham Forest manager.

New Nottingham Forest manager Martin O’Neill has a “spot open” for Roy Keane to join his backroom team, but says his former assistant has not made up his mind.

Keane attracted controversy during his time working under O’Neill as Republic of Ireland assistant manager, having fallen out with Harry Arter in the months before the pair stepped down at the end of 2018 following relegation from Nations League Group B.

O’Neill confirmed he has signed an 18-month deal at Forest and will leave if he does not win promotion to the Premier League within that time-frame.

He wants former Forest midfielder Keane alongside him to help him achieve that, even if he is “tough to handle”.

“I would like him to join us,” O’Neill said in his first press conference since taking the job. “Since this has happened very quickly, he has a number of things to sort out himself.

“We’ve had talks here, I would genuinely like him to, there’s a spot open for him.

“It might happen, might not, he has a number of things to consider. He will keep me informed.

Keane was O'Neill's assistant for the Republic of Ireland
Keane was O’Neill’s assistant for the Republic of Ireland

“He was a great asset to me at the Republic of Ireland, tough to handle, there’s no doubt about it, but you know that about him, that’s what makes him special.”

O’Neill admitted to feeling a touch of inevitability about returning to Forest, where he won the European Cup twice as a player under Brian Clough, and revealed he has turned down the manager’s job there on multiple occasions.

It is the 66-year-old’s first job back in club football since 2013.

“As I sit here now I think maybe there was some destiny attached to it,” he said. “You can get a bit carried away with that, but the occasions in the past when it didn’t seem the right thing to do you often wonder if there will ever be another opportunity.”

2:02

O’Neill admits to feeling a return to Forest was ‘destiny’

O’Neill admits his “extraordinary” time under Clough will be a “tough act to follow”, and admits there is added pressure on him because of the success he is associated with at the club – with Saturday’s visit of Bristol City a sell-out at the City Ground.

But he urged supporters not to “live in the past” and instead “carve something niche for the present players”, who sit ninth in the Championship and four points off the play-offs.

Forest’s record of 13 managers in the last seven-and-a-half years is proof there are no longer “projects” in football, for O’Neill, who sees promotion as the only objective.

“I don’t think there’s really any other reason to be here,” he said.

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