Late Christmas Presents…
December 30, 2010

David Cameron hasn’t had much to say for himself lately, leaving Cleggy to pick up the pieces of a coalition government in disarray, but he hasn’t taken his eye off the ball and was quickly off the mark yesterday cashing in on England’s Ashes victory by referring to it as a ‘great late Christmas present’.

There is nothing like sporting success to lift the mood of the nation and we certainly need it with the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development already predicting unemployment is set to hit a seventeen year high during 2011. But that’s for another day…            

As expected it didn’t take too long for England to wrap up a historic innings victory on the fourth day of the 4th Test at the MCG.

There is no doubt this is not a great Australian team and before the series started, it could have been argued, on paper there was very little between the sides. However the Aussies, playing in their own backyard, have become so accustomed to pummeling the whingeing poms over the last 24 years that there was always an underlying feeling of inevitability about the eventual outcome.    

But not so, England have comprehensively out batted, out bowled and out fielded the Aussies, with the exception of the opening day of the series, in Brisbane, and a couple of sessions at Perth when Mitchell Johnson finally clicked into gear and bowled them briefly back into the series.

England’s preparation and attention to detail has been outstanding and much credit should go to Andy Flower’s coaching team and captain Andrew Strauss. All that now remains is to ensure, that with the Ashes secured, they don’t allow the Aussies any crumbs of comfort in the final Sydney Test.

With the Aussies in such disarray anything less than a 3-1 series victory might be considered disappointing!  How long is it since we have been able to say that?  

It will be interesting to see how the notoriously unsentimental Australian selectors deal with the Ponting question. He is great player at the fag-end of his career.

He could be dropped due to his dismal batting form, where unthinkably he is averaging just 16 for the series. Alternatively he could be omitted due to the hand injury, sustained in Perth, which he struggled with at the MCG.

Punter is nothing if not a battler and deserves a final chance to show that he isn’t quite finished.    

I’m sure celebrity cricket supporter Sir Elton John will have considered England’s victory the icing on his seasonal cake  following the announcement of his own special Christmas gift – a surrogate son born to him and his partner David Furnish.

I’ve always been an Elton fan, both of his music and personality. Let’s be honest he does genuinely fall into that increasingly over used category, national treasures.

However, on this occasion, I’m not at all sure about a 63-year-old pop star, still touring and living a highly publicised superstar lifestyle, arguably acquiring a newborn baby as if he were some sort of fashion accessory.

I hope I am wrong and that the happy couple can provide Zachary Jackson Levon with the start in life that he deserves.

Elton, formerly Reg Dwight, is also well-known, at least in Nottingham, as the nephew of Roy Dwight who scored for Forest in their 1959 FA Cup victory over Luton Town.

Elton’s uncle opened the scoring after 10 minutes. However with 33 minutes gone, and  Forest winning 2-0, Dwight was carried off the Wembley pitch after breaking his leg in a tackle.

These were the days before substitutes were allowed but Forest held on, winning the match 2-1, to become the only team reduced to 10 men by injury to lift the trophy.

Which brings me nicely to last night and the current Forest team who presented their fans with, the best possible late Christmas present, a beautifully gift wrapped 5-2 victory over local rivals Derby County.

The rivalry between the two clubs is as intense as any in the country. Both have seen better days but currently share aspirations of returning to the Premiership.

How often do former players return to haunt their old clubs? Last night was no exception. Marcus Tudgay and Robbie Earnshaw both picked up a brace for the Tricky Trees and Kris Commons withstood a torrent of boos to slot home one of his trademark free kicks for the Rams.    

The following is purloined from the http://www.thisisderbyshire website and will be music to the ears of Forest fans everywhere:

Forest’s pace and attacking play combined with Derby’s wretched defending made it a nightmare night for the Rams.

It was the first time in more than 100 years Derby had conceded five goals to the Reds. The last time was in March 1904.

The Rams are leaking goals at an alarming rate. Seventeen have found their net in the last seven games.”

Happy New Year!

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Saturday afternoon at ‘the Cottage’
December 15, 2010

It has been a busy week or so since returning from Rwanda. Over the last ten days I’ve caught up with family and friends in Bristol, Nottingham, London and Birmingham.

I spent the last weekend in London. This enabled me to visit Gem in Balham and catch up with her journalistic exploits. She has penned the lead article for the bumper Christmas issue of Love It!

It was also an opportunity to attend the annual Book Bus reunion, held at Adulis – an Eritrean restaurant in the Oval area, and meet up with the colleagues I worked with in Zambia during May.

In between morning coffee on the Balham High Road and an evening out on the Brixton Road I spent a chilly winter afternoon in the Johnny Haynes Stand, at Craven Cottage, watching the Premiership game between Fulham and Sunderland.

In truth it was a disappointing game (a nil –nil draw), so much so that the reporter in the Independent on Sunday awarded the man of the match award to referee Neil Swarbrick!

I have to say it did cross my mind that if  the level of play I saw on saw on Saturday was typical of that in the middle to lower reaches of the Premier League then perhaps the current Forest team wouldn’t be out-of-place should they gain promotion.   

I first visited Craven Cottage for the opening game of the 1976-7 season. It was a warm and sunny August day and Fulham were entertaining a Forest side in the old second division. It finished 2-2 and Forest’s scorers were the lively winger Terry Curran and old stager John O’Hare.

Little did I suspect at the time that this would be the first game of an incredible four-year period that would see Cloughie’s Forest team win promotion to the 1st division  followed by the league championship and back to back European Cups!

Craven Cottage is always a  joy to visit, even in the fading light of a grey December day. From Putney Bridge tube station there is a lovely walk through Bishops Park to the riverside stadium which has managed to successfully merge early 20th century architecture with 21st century amenities.

The Johnny Haynes stand, named after ‘the maestro’ – an elegant midfield player for England during the late 1950’s and early 60’s, still sports a classic gable, labelled Fulham Football Club, and my seat was an original of the wooden tip up variety.

The players still enter the pitch from the unique pavilion building, referred to as ‘the cottage,’ which stands in the corner of the ground between the Johnny Haynes Stand and the Putney End.

I have always had a soft spot for Fulham, a homely club in a fashionable part of London. When I first started to follow football they were permanently in the lower reaches of the 1st division. 

Their chairman was music hall comedian Tommy Trinder and the star player was the afore-mentioned Haynes.

There was also a promising attacking full back, George Cohen, who would go on to pick up a World Cup Winners medal.

Bobby Moore and George Best briefly illuminated the Craven Cottage pitch in the twilight of their careers, and Malcolm MacDonald began his goal scoring exploits on the bank of the Thames, but as the years passed by Fulham began a slow descent towards the basement of English football.

Fortunately for them, under the ownership of the Harrods boss Mohammed Al Fayed, they once more returned to the top-level, in 2001, where they have gradually re-established themselves over the last nine years.

Last year, under manager Roy Hodgson (now at Liverpool), Fulham enjoyed a fairy tale run in the Europa Cup reaching the final, in Hamburg, where they eventually lost to Atletico Madrid.  

Al Fayed was at the game on Saturday. He doesn’t suffer fools gladly and too many more performances like the one I witnessed could lead to current manager Mark ‘Sparky’ Hughes being shown the door.

Fulham are perilously close to the relegation places, only goal difference separating them from the bottom three, but I hope they will survive.

Tying Up Loose Ends…(150 up!)
November 27, 2010

I’m spending my final weekend in Kigali.

Yesterday morning I caught the 07.30 International Express  from Nyakarambi and at 10.15 I arrived at the VSO office. Two hours later I left, having completed my ‘exit interview’, claimed my final expenses and said my ‘goodbyes’ to the office staff.

Down town I called in at the Ethiopian Airlines office to confirm my flights for next Saturday. All sorted but I can’t say I’m looking forward to kicking my heels for six hours in Addis Ababa airport before boarding the 02.00 flight to Heathrow!

Earlier in the week, back in Nyakarambi,  I had met up with Msafiri bemoaning Arsenal’s mid week defeat in Europe. He also confirmed that he has acquired a vehicle to transport  me to the airport next Saturday morning.  I think he is going to drive me there, which is a really nice gesture, considering it’s a six-hour round trip and Saturday is a busy day for trade!    

I was delighted to log on last night and find that Forest have pulled off two superb loan signings, Marcus Tudgay, a decent striker from Sheffield Wednesday, and Aaron Ramsey, an exciting and precocious midfield talent from Arsenal. Ramsey is recovering from a nine month lay off following a very nasty injury but hopefully during the eight matches, he is available for, he will help Forest cement a place in the top six of the Championship.

It’s less good news for Dexter Blackstock, a striker who I have a lot of time for, who will be out for twelve months following his injury in the latter stages of our win at Cardiff. At least the ‘acquisitions panel’ have moved quickly to replace him.

It’s less good news on the ‘Ashes’ front where England might struggle to come away with a draw from the First Test, down under. The pre series hype was never going to favour them. We don’t wear the ‘favourites’ tag very easily and the Aussies were never going to roll over despite what the media wrote.   

Hopefully things will turn around, as one of the things I’m  looking forward to on my return  is a few late night/early morning sessions of play courtesy of Sky Sports.

There was a rather surreal feeling this morning, sitting in my T-shirt sipping coffee in the ‘Isimbi’ bar as CNN announced severe weather and snow alerts across the UK. As long as it doesn’t interfere with flights I don’t mind, but below freezing temperatures will come as a bit of a shock.

It’s umuganda today so I’m confined to the hotel this morning, hence the opportunity to update the blog, at some length!  According to the stats this is my 150th posting, which is quite amazing. I have to admit I have rather surprised myself at managing to keep it going for that long.

Given this landmark posting and the weather conditions back home perhaps I should have followed the time-honoured Dandy and Beano format of coating the title font with snow and wishing all my readers a somewhat premature Merry Christmas & Happy New Year!

Anyhow I think at least celebratory lunchtime drink is called for. It’s warm and bright here in Kigali, the bars are opening up now and I think I’s better make the most of it!

North London ‘derby’ in Nyakarambi!
November 21, 2010

We have been promising ourselves a Saturday afternoon visit to KMC to watch a match on Msafiri’s big screen. Given that this weekend we were at a loose end in Nyakarambi and that Mark is a ‘Gooner’, the North London ‘derby’ seemed an obvious call.

Sod’s law decreed that this would, of course, be the Saturday afternoon that Msafiri had let his function room for a wedding party, so no football. Fortunately, however somebody else with an eye for the main chance had set up a 26 inch TV in a back room behind Uncle Innocent’s café.

We dutifully paid 200RWF entrance fee and took our place on wooden bench, hemmed in by about seventy football mad locals, and with a distant view of the small screen. About 75% of the crowd were Arsenal ‘fans’ and the rest were cheering on Spurs because they were followers of Chelsea or Man Utd.

The first half was a cake walk for Arsene’s team and the camera even caught him smiling. Perhaps it was too easy, because the second half saw an amazing turn around and Harry’s Spurs surprisingly found themselves 3-2 winners,  without really playing that well. A ‘game of two halves,’ if ever there was, and  Arsene was finally shown throwing his water bottle on to the ground in frustration!

To be honest all five goals were the product of dubious defending and who knows what Cesc Fabregas was thinking of when he stuck up an arm to let Spurs back in with an equalising penalty which provided, an out of condition, Rafael Van der Waart with his one and only meaningful contribution  to the game.

Game over and we repaired to the ‘front terrace’ of KMC to drown Mark’s sorrows and catch the dying embers of the day. As we watched the wedding guests, dressed in their finery, come and go we were soon joined by Msafiri sporting his ‘Tora Paul Kagame’ T-shirt and a long face. He is also a Gunners fan and had been watching the game up in his room.

Msafiri has taken to wearing a range of PK leisure wear since last Sunday when he attended a FPR meeting addressed by a local MP who apparently robustly refuted the findings of the recent controversial UN enquiry.  

Msafiri maintains he has never been into politics too much but understands the current standing and popularity of PK and, being rather astute, he clearly recognises that nailing his colours to the mast can’t be all together bad for business.     

He has been very friendly and helpful to us since we moved to Nyakarambi and is a bit of a local Mr Fixit. I had set him the mission of trying to find someone local who might be prepared to transport me and my luggage to Kigali Airport in two weeks time, at a decent rate, so I don’t have to struggle with it on the bus.

It seems he might have come up trumps and in typical African style, with a big smile on his face he declared that he could confirm arrangements two days before I’m due to leave. My response that I needed to know at least a week before leaving was met with another big grin and a, ‘Don’t worry Phillip I won’t let you down!’ Past experience suggests he won’t so I’ll just relax and go with the flow.          

On arriving home a  quick trawl on the internet soon put  the North London ‘derby’  into perspective. The result of the day was obviously down in Cardiff where Billy’s Boys beat the table toppers 2-0 to move the Tricky Trees into the top six of the Championship!

‘High Noon’ at Nyakarambi & Glaws gun down Tigers in Kingsholm showdown!
October 31, 2010

Weekends are the quietest part of the week in Nyakarambi. On Saturday a number of businesses are closed because the owners are Seventh Day Adventists and similarly a lot are also closed on Sunday due to the call of church.  

This Saturday, being the final one of the month, was umuganda so it was even quieter than normal and I had to wait until 12.30 for the first Kigali bound bus of the day.

As I hauled my suitcase up the main street it did occur to me, not for the first time, how similar Nyakarambi is to those out posts of the old wild-west depicted in Hollywood movies.

As the midday sun bore down I had a sudden flash back to the Gary Cooper character in the classic western High Noon (which really shows my age!).

Shop fronts line the main street with their covered walkways, the Auberge Ikirezi does a good impression of a saloon bar, with its fair share of all day drinkers, while the moto drivers coral their machines in the shade of a tree at the edge of the town or cruise around, like latter-day cowboys. There are even, off stage sound effects, with the occasional long-horned steer lowing in the background.

In fact all that was missing, as I waited for the International ‘stage coach’ to pull in, was a piece of tumbleweed cart-wheeling along the road!

Meanwhile, back in the 21st century, it was a tight squeeze on the bus. My suitcase caused a bit of a problem and had to be wedged under a seat whilst I was show horned between a guy snoozing in a window seat and a sister of generous proportions who spread over most of  my seat as well as her own.

The sun soon dissolved into pouring rain and for three hair-raising hours the driver had one hand on the horn and the other clasping a mobile to his ear.

I knew Rwanda had joined the Commonwealth but I hadn’t realised they had switched to driving on the left hand side of the road, which is where we spent most of our time – swerving back to the right at the last-minute to avoid on coming traffic!     

Luckily the rain had abated by the time we reached Kigali and I was soon ensconced in the bar at my hotel of choice, the Isimbi  (where I’m becoming recognised as a bit of a regular) settling my nerves with a much-needed beer whilst watching a similarly edgy Gunners sneak a 1-0 win over the lowly Hammers at the Emirates.   

Game over and I went straight on-line to find that Forest’s recent recovery had stalled as they suffered a touch of the blues with a 2-1 defeat at the hands of Pompey, apparently conceding two soft goals and converting just one of 13 chances that came their way!

However in the ‘egg catching’ game Gloucester, who seem to be going from strength to strength, tweaked the Tiger’s tail, to steal the points with a last gasp try from Lesley ‘the Volcano’ Vanikolo.

This type of final flourish is usually reserved for the likes of Leicester, not Glaws, particularly in televised games, but this young Cherry & Whites side seems to have a bit more steel about them than last year and just maybe they might surprise a few people, come the end of the season!

News & Views from the UK
October 3, 2010

Thanks to all of you who have been keeping in touch either by email or posting messages on the blog. It is very much appreciated.

I did temporarily have an email virus so apologies to any of you who received unsolicited messages from my address advertising Viagra and the like! I seem to have resolved the problem now.

Although I have got regular internet access via the MTN dongle it can be terribly slow and it takes up most of my spare time accessing and responding to emails, keeping the blog up to date and keeping tabs on Forest and Gloucester.  

It’s a waste of time trying to get on the BBC website as it takes forever to download, so I’m feeling rather out of touch with regard to current affairs, which is rather frustrating.

I did receive a chatty email from Gem the other day informing me that Geeky (Ed Miliband ) had won the Labour leadership contest, surprised but pleased about that, and that the Pope’s visit had been annoyingly controversial, not surprised about that!

Gem also tells me she got the double page lead in last week’s Love It, plus a couple of smaller features inside – good girl, well done!

The tom toms were beating in deepest Rwanda with news of Gloucester’s 18-3 victory over Baarf at  ‘the Wreck’. Thanks for that Keith. I think that’s only their second league win there since the Rugby Premiership began and even better it was in front of the Sky cameras. I bet Stuart Barnes was full of praise for the Cherry and Whites! Interestingly no news from Solihull on this one, Steve!  

Forest continued their unbeaten run with an apparently hard-fought draw at Donny Rovers yesterday following their mid-week point at home to the Blades. I’m not quite sure where we currently stand in the Championship but if we could turn a few more draws into wins I’m sure we wouldn’t be too far off a top six place.       

Msafiri  tells me he’s showing Chelsea v Arsenal  this afternoon so I might settle myself down with a bottle of Primus in front of his giant screen.

‘Heaven’ as Forest record first win of the season!
September 14, 2010

Today was a full day Seminaire – Atelier pour Employeurs. The workshop largely covered issues surrounding the development of effective working partnerships between employers, volunteers and VSO.

A couple of colleagues have already moved on to their placements, this evening, but the majority of us ship out tomorrow morning. The Kirehe contingent, including myself, are scheduled to depart at 10.00am  for our 2-3 hour journey.

On this, our last, evening together a few of us decided to sample the delights of down town Kigali. Given it is Tuesday it was hardly buzzing and after 9.oopm everything started to shut down. However we were lucky enough to visit ‘Heaven’, a relatively up market terrace restaurant created from local materials by Rwandan craftsman but run by Americans.

We shared a tortilla and guacamole starter and then I had home-made, mushroom stuffed ravioli in tomato sauce accompanied by two large glasses of Mutzïg, ‘the taste of success’, available on draft!  My share of the bill came to 11,700 RWF (£11.70), expensive by Rwandan standards and in relation to VSO earnings, but great as a change from melanje or brochettes na ifiriti

On my return to the Hostel Amani logged on and found to my delight that Billy Davies was also in heaven tonight as the Tricky Trees chalked up their first win of the season, 2-1 at Preston, and their first away win since January. Lewis McGugan, making a rare start, scored both Forest goals and they are now unbeaten in five matches so hopefully this will be the beginning of a good run!

Intore Dancers and Kimironko Market
September 12, 2010

VSO family dinner was arranged for Saturday evening. It provided an opportunity for the new recruits to meet serving volunteers already well into their placements.

There are currently 43 VSO volunteers in Rwanda and everyone enjoyed the evening. There was an extensive melanje and a bar, with two free drinks per volunteer!

However the highlight of the occasion was the performance of the Intore dancers. This type of traditional dancing stretches back centuries, before the arrival of the Europeans.

Selected young men at the royal court received a privileged education and choreographic training in order to entertain their master s and perform at special court occasions.    

The name intore means ‘best’, as only the best of them were chosen for this honour. Traditionally they performed warlike dances with spears (ikuma) and shields (ingabo). Both of these were on show last night.

Towards the end of the evening, after a few drinks, there was an opportunity for some enthusiastic audience participation!   

Today, Sunday, was a day off after a very intensive six days of training. An optional outing to Kimironko Market was on offer. We made our way by matatu (mini bus taxi) out past the Amahoro Stadium, scene of the presidential inauguration earlier this week, to this large covered market.

It was all very orderly with stalls set out in rank and file order, and well defined areas for meat (including live chickens), fish, vegetables, fruit, hardware, fabrics, handicrafts etc.

The locals were very friendly and it was an opportunity for us to put our Kinyrwanda lessons into practice by exchanging greetings and rehearsing the vocabulary for common fruit and vegetables.

Bananas (imineke) are very plentiful out here, as are Irish potatoes (ibirayi) and sweet potatoes (ikirayi). In fact the range, quality and quantity of the produce on sale was very high and the market was also very clean and tidy, in keeping with everything we have seen to date.  

Plastic bags are banned in Rwanda as part of their environmental policy and it has had the desired effect. On the last Saturday of every month, Rwandans are also expected to spend time doing jobs to help improve their community, such as litter picking, and general land and property maintenance work.

It has been overcast all day today, with regular sharp downpours. This afternoon I took a short walk around the local district taking some photographs and meeting a few locals! 

It was great to be able to log on first thing this morning and catch up with the football and rugby results. It seems Forest snatched a last gasp equaliser against Milwall, in a game they dominated (again). A win would be nice, any time soon!

Coincidently, I found out last night that the VSO country director, Mike, is also a Forest enthusiast!  

Gloucester nearly snatched defeat from the jaws of victory in a game they had bossed from the early stages but they let Leeds Carnegie back into the game and had to rely on the last kick of the game by Nicky Robinson to see them home by one point!

The Man With Maradona’s Shirt
August 29, 2010

Saturday’s  final, pre-Rwanda, visit to the City Ground didn’t quite live up to expectations. Forest had to settle for a 1-1 draw against Saint Delias’ newly promoted Norwich.

The Canaries were on song, high on confidence after a couple of good results, and played  the ball around well. Forest, however,  looked a yard off the pace, particularly in midfield.

They did take the lead, rather against the run of play, from a dubiously awarded penalty (to make up for a stonewall certainty the ref had failed to give a few minutes earlier) taken by Dexter Blackstock but it didn’t last for long and once again, this season, sloppy defending led to a Norwich equaliser just before half time.

Former Forest striker, Grant Holt, who spent most of the game on the floor (no change there then) might have scored for Norwich late on but keeper Lee Camp made a sprawling save.

Once again Robbie Earnshaw was by far the liveliest Forest player  and nearly conjured up a last gasp winner when he hit the post again (5 times in 4 games) following a very smart shot on the turn from a tight angle.

It would have been harsh on the Canaries  who deserved at least a point. Forest were booed off by a section of the crowd. If the acquisitions group don’t act quickly before Tuesday’s transfer deadline it could be a long haul through to Christmas!     

Before the match I visited the newly extended and refurbished club shop where, former Forest star and England international, Steve Hodge was signing copies of his autobiography The Man with Maradona’s Shirt.

The title refers to  the one of the most controversial  incidents ever seen in an international football match when, during England’s 1986 World Cup quarter-final against Argentina, Steve Hodge’s sliced back pass led to Diego Maradona’s Hand of God  ‘goal’.

Amazingly Steve still found it in himself to swap shirts with Maradona after the game. But then again, whichever way you look at it, it is a historic piece of football memorabilia!  

Harry Hodge , as he was known, played 277 games in two stints for Forest, from 1982-85 and 1988-91, both under Brian Clough. He was an energetic, attacking left-sided midfield player with a nice habit  of scoring goals, 66 in total, a ratio of 1 every  4 games – some strikers would be pleased with that!      

He also played for Aston Villa, Spurs and Leeds where he was in their league championship winning side. Harry who made 27 appearances for his country, and was involved in two World Cups (Mexico ’86 and Italia ’90) currently works with Forest’s  youngsters in the academy where I’m sure he is a great role model.

We could certainly do with someone like him in our midfield at the moment!

Earnie on a roll and Martin O’Neil for Forest?
August 25, 2010

Forest have hardly got off to a flyer this season but it is early days and their displays have warranted a better points return than the meagre two out of a possible 9 they  have accrued.

On Saturday, having dominated the first half at the splendid Madejski Stadium, they went in 1-0 down after Reading scored from their only meaningful attack of the half.

However, shortly after the interval Forest got their just reward when Reading’s, otherwise outstanding, Italian keeper, Federici, produced a goalkeeping howler to gift them a deserved equaliser. A clearance against one of his own defenders rebounded to Robbie Earnshaw who reacted in a flash to round the keeper and roll home his first goal of the season.   

Earnshaw has worked hard and looked very sharp this season but been denied, in previous games, by a combination of the woodwork and good keeping. He had earned his slice of luck and it was good to see the trademark celebratory somersault in action again.

Given that once Earnie gets on a roll he tends to get goals in clusters, I wouldn’t bet against him appearing on the score sheet again next weekend when Forest take on one of his former clubs, Norwich, at the City Ground.

I hope so as this will be my last opportunity to see the Tricky Trees before leaving for Rwanda. I would like to think that by the time I return, in early December, they will be sitting in the top six!   

In his post-match interview, Forest manager Billy Davies once again berated the acquisitions committee for its inability to dip into the transfer market.

Billy’s familiar mantra is born out of frustration and his realistic assessment that if last season’s promise is to bear fruit this time a round Forest need a couple of quality players to strengthen a pretty thin looking squad.    

It is difficult to know what is going on behind the scenes but are Billy’s protestations beginning to grate with the committee and are they, in turn, keeping a firm grip on the purse strings, hoping that he might step down?   

I was astonished to see the News of the World speculating that should this be the case Forest are lining up Martin O’Neil as a possible replacement!

Martin was a great European Cup winning player for Forest who has an emotional attachment to the club. He seemed to be in line to take over as manager when Cloughie retired but things didn’t work out. Instead he went on to enjoy management success at Leicester, Celtic and Aston Villa.

If Forest were to get promoted to the Premiership a manager of O’Neil’s stature would certainly enhance their chances of staying there but I can’t really see him stepping down into the Championship unless the acquisitions committee hand him total control over the spending on players. After all he apparently quit Villa because he was unhappy with the transfer funds being made available to him there.

Much as I would love to see Martin O’Neil and his assistant John Robertson (another Forest legend) at the City Ground I can’t help feeling it would be very harsh on Billy Davies who has done a tremendous job at the club since he took over.

I would certainly say he is the best manager we have had since Cloughie and he has a proven track record in the second tier. However there is still a question mark over whether he has what it takes to operate in the top league.

If, and it’s a big if, Forest have enough money to approach O’Neil they surely have the funds to make realistic bids for the couple of players that would strengthen Davies’ squad.

It’s an intriguing situation but I think if Martin O’Neil goes anywhere it’s more likely to be as England manager, should Fabio Capello fail to convince over the coming months!