Nottingham Forest great Martin O’Neill similar to Brian Clough and Sir Alex Ferguson, says Roy Keane


Nottingham Forest legend Martin O’Neill matches managerial greats Brian Clough and Sir Alex Ferguson when it comes to handling a big occasion, according to Roy Keane.

O’Neill and assistant boss Keane are looking to guide Republic of Ireland past Denmark in the World Cup play-offs as they aim for a place at next year’s tournament in Russia.

An Ireland squad which includes Forest striker Daryl Murphy is away for the first leg of the play-off tie on Saturday, with the return in Dublin next Tuesday.

And former Reds midfielder Keane says the team are in good hands, praising O’Neill’s ability to strike the right note in the build-up to crunch clashes.

“The key to the really top managers – and I go back to the managers whom I worked with – is saying the right thing at the right time,” he said.

“Obviously that will not be through the media but at a team-talk, maybe in the dressing room, maybe at half-time, pre-match or even the hotel.

“And I know that if I was a player, I (would) like Martin’s messages. Of course you are going to say that I have to say that because I work with him.

“But I always try to picture myself as a player and, if I was a player and these were the messages that I was getting from the manager, I would be going, ‘yes, I get that’.”

It was Clough who brought Keane to the City Ground back in 1990. He spent three years there before joining Manchester United, going on to win countless trophies at Old Trafford with Ferguson as manager.

Republic of Ireland assistant manager Roy Keane

And the 46-year-old says there are similarities between European Cup winner O’Neill and two of his former bosses.

“There are hundreds and thousands of coaches out there but management is different,” Keane said.

“It’s about saying the right thing at the right time, the right tone, the right message. You simplify things.

“I worked with Brian Clough and Alex Ferguson and I have obviously made it clear before about Alex Ferguson that, whatever you are saying about him, in team-talks, it was to say the right thing at the right time.

“I’d certainly have no problem mentioning Martin in the same breath as them. Absolutely not. I wouldn’t blink an eyelid at that. I could not be learning from a better manager.”

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