Former Republic of Ireland midfielder Keith Andrews has given his insight into how English football perceived Martin O’Neill’s Ireland as the 66-year-old prepares to take over at former club Nottingham Forest.
Reports emerged in the media on Monday that O’Neill would be returning to club management with Championship play-off contenders Nottingham Forest who recently parted company with Aitor Karanka.
The expected appointment would represent a short turn around for O’Neill who left his role as Ireland manager just two months ago following a disappointing 2018 which saw the Boys in Green win just one match and suffer relegation from their UEFA Nations League group.
Andrews feels that the Forest job represents a massive opportunity for O’Neill to progress with one of the strongest squads in the division.
Speaking at the launch of the 2019 SPAR FAI Primary School 5s programme launch on Monday, Andrews outlined that despite O’Neill’s links to the club, he was very surprised by the appointment.
“I think it’s a massive opportunity for him. I’m slightly surprised if I’m honest with you.
“I thought they would have gone more down the continental route. I thought he would have been more suited to the hierarchy at a club like Stoke with the traditional style they run their club with, but they’ve gone with Nathan Jones so I am slightly surprised everybody obviously knows the link he has to Nottingham Forest as a player he was a legend there as a player.
“The Forest squad is one of the best in the division and it’s a massive, massive opportunity they should really be in and around the playoffs or getting into the playoffs with the amount of money they spent and the calibre of player they have brought into the club over the last 12 months, they have an ambitious owner so it’s a big appointment.”
O’Neill’s new role has raised some eyebrows, but it seems that the perception, in England especially, of the former Aston Villa and Sunderland manager is that he worked wonders with an extremely limited squad.
Andrews who has spent a lot of time in England working as a pundit and a commentator explained that this perception of O’Neill, especially from the English media, is one that he is more than familiar with.
“The train of thought in England is, ‘what else could he do? the players are crap?’ which he alluded to. I certainly don’t agree with that. I never did. I actually felt sorry for the players, with the lack of detail and preparation they were getting.
“I could see the struggles they were going through on the pitch because as a player I needed details, I needed options on the ball, I needed a plan because I was never world class, so I feel I can really relate to the current crop of Irish who predominantly play at the level I played at, mid Premier League, lower Premier League, top Championship that was my level.
“I was never a top four Premier League player and I think the way O’Neill managed it was let the players go and play, they’ll figure it out, they’ll find a way, whereas in this day and age I don’t think that cuts it in this day and age, so whether he will change going into Nottingham Forest now because those players need detail in certain areas.
“They have very talented players but the age of this crop of players, again similar to the ones he had at Ireland, they need a detailed plan on how to into every game. They certainly had that under Karanka. The vast majority of teams even at Championship level get detailed preparation going into the games and that might be something he’ll have to look at.”
The SPAR FAI Primary School 5s Programme was officially launched today by former Republic of Ireland International Keith Andrews and current Republic of Ireland Women’s International Megan Campbell. Over 35,000 boys and girls from 4th, 5th and 6th class are expected to take part in this fun and inclusive nationwide programme.
Register for the SPAR5s by February 15th at www.fai.ie/primary5