Garry Birtles was full of praise for Martin O’Neill for the work he and Roy Keane have done in such a short space of time at Nottingham Forest. O’Neill replaced Aitor Karanka in mid-January and has led the side to two wins and two draws from their last five league games.
Forest are currently eight in the Championship with 47 points, six adrift of the top-six, and face Derby County on Monday. They could halve the deficit to the playoffs with a win and extend their unbeaten run to four games. Birtles believes O’Neill has ticked all the boxes at Forest, leaving no stone unturned when deciding on his starting eleven.
In a column for Nottinghamshire Live, he wrote: “It has been about a month since Martin took charge, and you can see there is progress being made. There are real signs that under Martin and Roy that is starting to change.
“It’s very difficult to come in at this stage and gain the knowledge you need – of the club and the players – quickly. You’ve got to look at every aspect of the club; assess every player.
“But it looks like Martin and his assistant, Roy Keane, are doing that. They’re going to Under-23s games to see what’s going on, and they’re looking at players who hadn’t had a chance under Aitor. The players have responded to what they are trying to do.”
While critical of Karanka’s style being too predictable, O’Neill has been anything but this season. He’s made changes to his starting eleven every game and has watched the u23s in action to see the progress of those who aren’t commanding a place in the first-team – Liam Bridcutt etc.
O’Neill is already enamoured by Forest supporters for his success as a player, but he’ll be even more of a hero if the Reds pick up all three points on Monday.