Martin O’Neill returned to Nottingham Forest, some say never go back, and for MON it all ended after just five months in charge at City Ground. Often you see former greats coming back and we believe it’s not “the best of ideas” but it can also work out as others have shown.
MON is past his best, some say, and this is the end of an era with “old fashion” management styles, but why will a manager not renew himself and not just work as he did 25 years ago, we believe he does and that he can still be a good alternative.
The problem with MON is that he can be stubborn and probably not as easy as you would like, but he is a 100% committed guy who will try to do his best wherever he goes. At the age of 67, you might be a bit in the end of a career, but still there are managers around doing their trade.
Whenever Leicester City needed a new manager, Martin O’Neill was always in the picture right up until the appointment of Claudio Ranieri. His work around in football has been up there with the best. His work at Wycombe Wanderers and later at Leicester City spending five years at both clubs, were rides of greatness and showing how a football club can rise with the right tools and people in charge.
When MON came in at Leicester City he got a bit of a difficult start and he remembered that all the way, getting a bit of stick from the crowd and then turning them over, but he knew that Leicester City fans doesn’t really care about him, but about the club and results and are demanding, when you can’t reach the ultimate goal, being in the top flight with the best teams.
MON managed to take Leicester City back to the Premier League and how he managed to get far above expectations in that 1996/97 season, winning the league cup and at the same time ending 9th in the Premier League, with a group of players that all in all were either misfits at other clubs, young prospects and some old guys who had, by many described, seen their best days.
I love to watch managers who can rotate a squad, who can see how you manage a generation change and how you are able to develop players, making them better and better by gradually introducing them to the next level at the right time. This in a great mix with a nose for a good transfer, made MON the real deal of football management.
MON did some fantastic signings during his time at Leicester City. Steve Guppy and Matt Elliott comes to mind. Both being released by top clubs at an early age and making their way back, playing in lower league clubs. Muzzy Izzet, Neil Lennon, Robbie Savage, Gerry Taggart and Kasey Keller were others that stepped up and became top class players under the time Martin was in charge.
When MON left for Celtic he came back for Neil Lennon, who in a way was the most important player at Leicester City, ruling the center of midfield with clever passes and great positioning. Peter Taylor decided to sell him, mostly because Lennon himself wanted another challenge and really enjoyed working under MON.
Celtic and MON were a perfect match, he really enjoyed his time at Parkhead, but after that challenged in his own mind was fulfilled he decided to take a year of and then joining Aston Villa.
MON also quit Aston Villa and later took the job at Sunderland, probably getting tired of sitting on the fence waiting and he had to see “the sack” for the first time in his career when he struggled at Sunderland, not able to attract the right of players.
After a while out of football he came back taking over as coach of Ireland, and also taking with him Roy Keane as his assistant. The team worked well and they managed to get Ireland into the Euro’s. A good job done, as there were no big stars in the team. Why Ireland and MON separated after not getting to the World Cup, losing in the play-off’s to Denmark is a bit of a riddle, but as MON stepped down, he got new opportunities.
His former club as a player, Nottingham Forest, came in for him and MON was appointed manager at City Ground in January this year. He did a relatively good job also this time assisted by Roy Keane, also a former Forest man. Keane left a few weeks ago and this week MON also packed his bags.
To be fair, a bit surprised that MON left, since ending 9th in the Championship wasn’t that bad. Unrest among senior players might have been a reason, but of course it will be unrest in a football club who needs a bit of fresh faces to get on with a promotion push.