After their impressive feat of leading Ireland to a whopping zero competitive wins in 2018, Martin O’Neill and Roy Keane have been appointed as manager and assistant manager, respectively, at Nottingham Forest.
Forest are a grand old club with a proud history, so it’s no surprise the owners have dug deep into their pockets in order to enlist the help of Ireland’s deadliest duo since Ted and Dougal. Only a fool would deny that O’Neill and Keane, hereafter MONKeano, have given Irish football some of its finest moments over the past two or three decades.
Still, some nefarious detractors will unfairly and inaccurately argue that leading a team that scored one competitive goal in a calendar year is one of its poorest. Au contraire: it was a remarkable achievement considering the team was up against serious, hard-hitting heavyweights such as Wales and Denmark.
Anyway, since November 2013, this double-act has laid down certain markers in terms of style, strategy and player-management – markers which have become familiar to followers of the Boys In Green over the course of their five years in charge of Ireland. And so, to prepare Forest supporters for what’s to come, Paddy’s decided to share a handful of things they can expect to see at the City Ground during the coming months.
Attractive, attacking football
Okay, so we may have already referred to Ireland not winning a competitive game all year, and only managing one goal in those particular fixtures, but at times the football on display from the team was absolutely thrilling.
Who can forget fullback Cyrus Christie’s majestic performance at the base of a midfield trio? Or that time against Wales when James McClean had an opportunistic go from thirty yards but ended up almost kicking the ball out of the Aviva Stadium? Or that hard-fought sequence of three nil-all draws in four matches?
Great days. Just great days.
Anyway, Forest supporters can look forward to an ultra-attacking style of play in which their goalkeeper or defender will attempt an Airborne Defence-Splitting Pass From Range each and every time they get their hands/feet on the ball. Some have erroneously described this approach as a “long ball game” – in fact, this is an all-out-attack strategy whereby the opposition defence is challenged repeatedly to repel wave after wave of bombardment.
When done right, it’s impossible to stop:
No living off the past
It can surely be tempting for players, supporters and staff at a club like Forest to keep looking backwards. To refer constantly to past glories and to compare present generations to current ones. Although completely understandable, this kind of nostalgia can be harmful.
Thankfully, past achievements are not something to which MONKeano cling. No, sir. You won’t catch them banging on about how they “learned their trade from Brian Clough” or how they “learned their trade under Alex Ferguson”. Nope. They won’t breathe a single word about this. You’ll hardly even know that both of them won the European Cup/Champions League and were Forest legends in their time.
One of the first things MONKeano will do will be – Howard Wilkinson-style – to tear down the Forest idols of the past, including themselves, and usher in a new, forward-looking mindset where only the latest trends, technologies and thinking matters.
Top-notch relationship-building with the players
MONKeano are famous for their warm and amiable characters.
When it comes to MONKeano, the office door is always open for players and staff to wander through in search of advice or just a lovely chat about whatever’s on their mind at that particular moment.
Throughout their respective coaching/managerial careers, they’ve been admired for the way they’ve built close and lasting relationships with their players. Just ask Declan Rice and Stephen Ward, two men who’ve shared the MONKeano love at various points over the past few years.
Anyone feeling left out, or even just a little blue, knows they can approach MONKeano about anything without being told to f*ck off or man up. After all, at heart MONKeano are just a loveable pair of chilled-out entertainers.
Just wait until the Stephen Ward Whatsapp voice messages come out about this one. https://t.co/l8toWxphkW
— Paddy Power (@paddypower) November 21, 2018
Strong ties with the local media
MONKeano are well-known for how much they adore speaking to, with and at the media.
O’Neill developed a strong and friendly relationship almost immediately with Tony O’Donoghue, a reporter and presenter for RTÉ. Here are just a few examples of this:
Martin O'Neill gives his reaction to the Republic of Ireland's Nations League draw and addresses recent speculation about his future #RTEsoccer pic.twitter.com/cLC1SiDARB
— RTÉ Soccer (@RTEsoccer) January 24, 2018
Keane, meanwhile, is known for his great respect and patience with journalists:
Get on board the MONKeano train, Forest fans. It’s going to be a spectacular ride.Forest are 20/1 to be promoted in 2018-19