The message from Martin O’Neill was clear – he wants Roy Keane alongside him at Nottingham Forest.

One former Red has returned to the banks of the Trent and another may be on the way.

No deal has been done to reunite a tried and tested Republic of Ireland coaching team, but watch this space.

“I would dearly like him to join us,” O’Neill said of Keane, as reported by the Nottingham Post.

“Since this has happened very, very quickly, he has a number of things to sort out himself. We have had some discussions here. I would genuinely like him to join us.

“There is a spot open for him. I’m hoping that may happen, but it may not – he has a number of things to consider himself, both personally and professionally.”

O’Neill’s desire to get a trusted right-hand man on board should come as no surprise.

And we are not just dealing in sentimental value.

Keane will bring much more to the fold than mere ‘history’.

Enthusiasm

(Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

While O’Neill’s arrival has – justifiably – generated plenty of excitement, the optimism has been countered by caution.

It is going on five years since the Ulsterman last took charge of a club side, and 23 since he last worked in the English second tier.

Questions have been asked of his methods and coaching acumen.

Keane would help to ease some of those concerns.

He does not boast the best of managerial records, but he has filled top jobs in the past.

That experience will be key, as will his unquestionable enthusiasm on the training field.

If O’Neill wants to be hands-off, then Keane can be very much hands-on.

We may not be talking Peter Taylor to Brian Clough here, but one can pick the side and the other fine tune it.

“He’s tough to handle, there’s no doubt about it, but you know that with him. That’s probably what makes him pretty special,” O’Neill added on Keane.

“He was a special player, a fantastic footballer and he didn’t win those things by just sitting around.”

Unite

 

Those ‘special’ qualities are what Forest can buy into.

Keane has worked in and been promoted from the Championship more recently than O’Neill achieved similar at Leicester.

He has the know-how and could be the man to unite the Forest squad.

You can’t imagine that too many would fancy answering him back and his unrelenting desire to succeed should rub off on a few of those around him.

Respect should be a given and he can lead by example from a distance as he once did in the heat of midfield battle.

There are never any guarantees of success – particularly in Forest’s case.

Two Reds, though, are better than one and a combination of O’Neill and Keane boasts the potential to deliver rich rewards.