It would be fair to say that lots of Nottingham Forest supporters were underwhelmed when Martin O’Neill was announced as Aitor Karanka’s successor back in January.
The ex-Republic of Ireland boss hadn’t worked in club management for several years and the cynics were out in full force.
O’Neill is slowly, but surely, working to appease such cynics.
Saturday’s goalless draw at Preston marked the third game in succession without defeat.
But for some inept refereeing, it would have marked the Reds’ third straight victory. The Reds once again on the wrong end of a disallowed goal.
Whether fans wanted O’Neill or not, there becomes a point where credit is due. That crossroad is edging ever closer.
Two away games against West Bromwich Albion and Preston wouldn’t have filled the Reds’ faithful with too much confidence.
Nothing against O’Neill here, as prior to this week he had overseen just one away game. Forest, however, haven’t won away since November when they beat Hull 2-0.
In truth, O’Neill’s outfit never looked like losing either of their two recent away fixtures.
Forest were robbed by Dwight Gayle’s best Tom Daley impression on Tuesday night, whilst Declan Rudd’s acting on Saturday could well see him earn an Oscar later this month.
The performances during the two away trips is largely down to how O’Neill has set Forest up to play.
When he arrived, some supporters brandished O’Neill an archaic dinosaur who hasn’t moved with the times. Recently, the boss has blown such a theory firmly out of the water.
He has done a lot of good in his short time at the club.
In each game the 66-year-old has managed so far he has set up to counteract the strengths of the opposition. It didn’t work against Bristol City and Birmingham, but then Karanka didn’t always get it right either.
In the last three games, the Reds have looked organised, disciplined and the effort has been there for all to see.
Add to the mix the fact that he has unleashed the brilliant Ryan Yates onto the first-team and all of a sudden you have a manager who quite clearly knows what he is doing. Who’d have thought it, eh?
Being honest, it hasn’t always been pretty.
Possession stats haven’t swung in Forest’s direction under O’Neill but then when were accolades ever awarded for keeping the ball?
The Forest boss joined the club at a difficult time and picked up the pieces left by a hugely popular figure in Karanka.
O’Neill got things badly wrong during his first game in charge against Bristol City and he took sole responsibility for the shambles firmly upon his shoulders.
Since then the improvement has been evident.
The play-offs is probably a bridge too far for this season now.
There is, however, a real belief that the Reds can finish 2018/19 with a flourish.
Recent performance levels have increased no end, and slowly but surely O’Neill is working towards silencing his fiercest critics.