Martin O’Neill had been out of club management for almost six years when taking the reins at Nottingham Forest in January 2019.

For some, that has been used as a stick with which to beat him.

Accusations of losing touch have been aired.

To many, the game has moved on from when the Northern Irishman last occupied a domestic dugout.

Coaching could, however, be considered akin to riding a bike.

You never forget how to do it.

You may go several years without getting on the saddle, but you don’t fall off the next time you try.

O’Neill’s spell with the Republic of Ireland kept him very much across the football world.

He was aware of what was going on.

There has been a steep learning curve, though, after stepping back into day-to-day duty.

There are marked differences between international posts and club ones.

O’Neill has conceded, on a regular basis, that a period of experimentation was required for all concerned.


(Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

The hope is that said process has now come to a close.

That is because there are no more games until August and Forest need to be better placed to kick off 2019-20 than they were when bringing the curtain down on 2018-19.

A window of opportunity is about to swing open.

The Reds are expected to grab as much produce as they can reach once outside the market.

Who they go for, though, remains to be seen.

There have been calls for more firepower to be found, with Kenny Burns going as far as to suggest that Forest are in need of three more frontmen.

 If O’Neill does seek attacking spark, then what will he be favouring?

He has made no secret of his admiration for Daryl Murphy, a man he worked with in the Ireland set-up and one he still sees as having an important role to play at 36 years of age.

“Daryl is an interesting character. I did bring him back for Ireland and he did very, very well for me,” O’Neill has said in the Nottingham Post.

“Overall, his whole attitude to football is terrific. I think, if he looks back on his time, he might feel that he could have played higher for longer.

“He certainly had the strength and he had a decent enough touch as well.

“I did not really know him until quite late in his career and, as I said, I thought he did great in his career for us, with Ireland.”


History suggests that O’Neill likes to have a striking focal point.

An archetypal big man.

It could be that Forest find themselves heading back down that path this summer.

They need somebody capable of complementing Lewis Grabban, not necessarily a like-for-like alternative/partner.

It would come as no surprise were the Reds to look at adding more physical presence in the final third.

After all, that is what O’Neill was after the last time he had money to spend.

Back in 2012-13, during his days at Sunderland, two mobile targetmen were taken to the Stadium of Light.

They are the last strikers that O’Neill acquired for a fee, with Leo Bontatini having been loaned to Forest from Wolves in January.

The forwards in question were Steven Fletcher and Danny Graham.

Both have experienced their ups and downs since joining O’Neill on Wearside and will claim that they are finishers as much as they are workmanlike.

Could they be the blueprint once more six years on?

We are about to find out.

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