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Ireland manager Martin O'Neill (left) and assistant manager Roy Keane. Photo by: Laura Hutton / Photocall Ireland

Is Forest job a lure for Martin O’Neill and Roy Keane?

\"Ireland

Ireland manager Martin O'Neill (left) and assistant manager Roy Keane. Photo by: Laura Hutton / Photocall Ireland

There are times in life when it is hard to take anything the former professional footballer Stan Collymore says seriously.

He is, after all, the man who punched the well-known football groupie Ulrika Jonsson in the face in a Paris bar at a time when they were boyfriend and girlfriend in 1998.

The story goes that he once threatened to kill his former wife and burn down her parents’ house.  He was caught dogging — watching other people having sex in a car park and joining in — by The Sun tabloid and he apparently supports the election of a head of state in Britain, a rather Republican view in a monarchy.

He has also publicly discussed his battle with depression and raises both awareness and money for those suffering from the affliction.

He has mounted a near one man campaign to force Twitter to take more responsibility for those who use the social media network to attack and abuse others and to combat such behavior.

And he was once chased by our own Jack Charlton as a potential Republic of Ireland player, at a time in his life when he was scoring goals and lots of them for Nottingham Forest if my memory serves me right.

Collymore never did get to wear the green shirt. Instead he opted to play for the land of his birth and managed just three appearances for England and the jersey with the Three Lions on it.

His international career, like his time in the Premier League with Forest, Liverpool and Villa, never delivered on his promise.

Indeed, it could be argued that it is only in recent times that Collymore has finally found a forum that allows him to turn potential into achievement and something of merit.

That forum is radio, ironically considering he lost his job as a pundit with the BBC after he was caught dogging by an undercover Sun reporter in 2004.

These days — or at this moment in time as he loves to say — Collymore earns his living as a presenter on the all-sport TalkSport channel based out of London and available across the world via the Internet.

Truth is Collymore is quite good at his job. He is opinionated and he is informed, and he matches his own passion for the beautiful game with the understanding that comes so naturally to someone who once played the sport at the highest level.

For those still paying attention, it will come as no surprise to read that Stan is a little bit controversial at times. He speaks his mind and you don’t have to turn up the dial to know what he is saying.

What you see is what you get with the modern day Stan Collymore. Last Monday, he combined two of the footballing subjects already name-checked in this column with a suggestion that makes a lot of sense – even if it won’t happen.

As he reacted to the decision of Nottingham Forest’s Kuwaiti owners to sack their manager Billy Davies on Monday, just 48 hours after they were thumped by arch rivals Derby County of all people, Collymore offered a radical solution to their search for a new manager.
His idea centres on the Ireland management team of Martin O’Neill and Roy Keane, both Forest legends in their own right.

And his words, available at www.talksport.com, make for very interesting reading so early in the Ireland careers of both former City Ground favorites.

This is exactly what Collymore said on Monday night: “I think the owner has to take a step back for a couple of days now, and I think Nottingham Forest need to employ Nottingham Forest people.

“When you create a feel-good factor around a football club with people who have been there and have an identity at the club, it provides all the building blocks for moving forward.

“Over the years they’ve had Ron Atkinson, Dave Bassett, Steven McClaren and they’ve had Alex McLeish – who I don’t think are Nottingham Forest men and are certainly not associated with any of the club’s success.

“The owner has the money, so I would pay the Irish FA and get Martin O’Neill in as manager with Roy Keane as his assistant.

“O’Neill is a proven at the top level and being Ireland manager is a part-time job, both men didn’t think they would get another managerial job at the time, so they took it.

“Now the Forest job has come up, both of them would get into an all-time Forest XI, both want to manage day-to-day with players and they’re not getting that at the moment.

“Forest need to appoint people who have a heart for the club. They’ve taken a million gambles with a million different managers since Brian Clough and Frank Clark and most of them haven’t worked.”

The suggestion by Collymore has generated a lot of talk in football circles in Ireland and, to be honest, very few people believe the FAI will take it too seriously.

O’Neill and Keane are under contract, are well paid and have yet to play a competitive match as Ireland’s new managerial Messiahs.

They have both said they won’t walk away at the first job offer in club management that comes their way, and we have to believe them.

But it must be a little disconcerting and perhaps distracting for both of them that a job as big as this one, and at a club they both love and are loved in return, has become available.

Stan Collymore may have done some crazy things and said some crazy stuff in the past, but this idea isn’t as far fetched as it seems at first glance.

Maybe for once we should take him seriously, the FAI more seriously than the rest of us. He might just be onto something. And that has to be a worry for anyone who cares about the Ireland national team.

(Cathal Dervan is sports editor of the Irish Sun newspaper in Dublin)

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