There was a time not all that long ago when the return of Martin O’Neill would have had Nottingham Forest supporters shouting from the rooftops.

A spiritual homecoming for a prodigal son.

One of those moulded by Brian Clough and cut from the same uncompromising cloth as Old Big ‘Ed back where he belongs.

How did things get twisted along the way?

It is common knowledge that O’Neill has figured on the Reds’ managerial radar for a number of years.

Back when the club was first trying to free itself from the grip of a second tier tussle, calls were regularly made to the Northern Irishman.

He knocked them all back as the time was never quite right.

Mentality

It is now, but things have changed.

No longer are discussions regarding the merits of any given appointment restricted to local watering holes or a spot on the terraces.

Nowadays, everyone is an armchair owner/manager/supporter and will happily offer up their thoughts if they are welcome or not.

A Snapchat generation with a ‘think it, post it’ mentality – with there often little or no filter between those two actions.

This can, of course, be no bad thing.

A so-called ‘voice’ is no longer restricted to the privileged few; there is now a platform on which everybody can be heard.

In the case of Nottingham Forest, though, the differences in opinion can often be as wide as the Trent.

Distinction

(Photo by Ray Wright/Mark Leech Sports Photography/Getty Images)

O’Neill’s appointment was confirmed on the club’s official website on Tuesday morning, but had been in the offing for some 24 hours.

That was more than enough time for keyboard warriors everywhere to offer their two penneth.

In many ways, this is mine and merely another entry into the stream of consciousness which has flowed from the minds of a red army.

There are no right or wrong answers and everybody is entitled to make of O’Neill what they want.

It is, however, impossible to escape the feeling that if a European Cup hero cannot get the juices flowing, then who can?

Yes, this is not the same man who represented the club with such distinction or anything close to a side worthy of being mentioned in the same breath.

O’Neill is not even the coach he was around the turn of the century when he was so longed for by the Forest faithful.

Judged

 

He is, however, older and wiser and should not be judged until he has got his feet firmly under the table.

The football produced by his Sunderland and Republic of Ireland sides in more recent positions may not have been the best, but they were hardly star-studded teams.

Not that Forest are.

There is potential for him to work with, though, and any efforts to make the Reds slightly less easy to break down should be embraced.

Being a little more dogged would be a step in the right direction when taking displays still fresh in the memory into account.

This is not his side, it is one he has inherited and one which he needs to mould.

He should be able to count on the full support of those who consider him to be a hero while he sets about that task.

Pride

(Photo By Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

And if Roy Keane comes in alongside him – with the Nottingham Post reporting that talks remain ongoing – then all the better.

O’Neill is not expected to have us believing in miracles again, that was a job for his generation and will forever remain so.

He is back in familiar surroundings to deliver pride, optimism, belief and – most importantly – results.

Forest may have had their fingers burned with Stuart Pearce, which appears to be clouding the judgement of some, but this is an entirely different situation.

O’Neill boasts considerably more experience and coaching acumen than ‘Psycho’ and does not have Fawaz Al Hasawi breathing down his neck or the constraints of a transfer embargo to deal with.

Sentiment and nostalgia may not always have a place in professional sport – it is often best to avoid living in the past – but if you cannot buy into an icon being back in the dugout then what are you looking for?