Martin O’Neill is aiming for promotion for Nottingham Forest in just 18 months – and is still talking to Roy Keane about a supporting role in the City Ground dugout.
At his first press conference since being appointed as manager on Tuesday, the Northern Irishman revealed his target is a fast return to the Premier League after a 20-year absence.
He also spoke of a strong desire to secure fellow ex-Reds player Keane, who assisted him as manager of the Republic of Ireland and is now considered a trusted and important part of O’Neill’s strategy.
“I’d dearly like Roy Keane to join us,” he said. “We’ve had discussions here, I’m hoping that may happen. It may not happen.
“He will keep me informed. He was a great asset with me at Republic of Ireland.”
He added Keane had his own future to consider before taking a decision and talks are ongoing.
O’Neill takes charge with Forest in ninth place in the Championship table, four points away from the play-off spots, ahead of Saturday’s sold-out home game against Bristol City.
He added: “We want to drive the club on. The obvious hurdle is you have to get to know the players and this is not a pre-season.
“It’s not a major problem, overall, this is what I want to do. I’m here for 18 months. If we can’t get up I’ll gladly hand over to someone else.”
His stated contract length effectively means the Reds must achieve promotion either this season or the end of the 2019-2020 campaign in order for O’Neill to match the board’s ambitions for his tenure.
O’Neill spent the majority of his playing career with Forest, winning the European Cup twice, in 1979 and 1980.
He went on to manage clubs including Leicester City, Aston Villa, Celtic and Sunderland before taking on the Republic of Ireland job with Keane as an assistant, roles which both left in November.
The 66-year-old added: “This opportunity has come along and I’m going to make the most of it. I’ve retained a great enthusiasm for it [the game as a whole] and I want to go for it and be successful here. As a player the last few years of my time here were extraordinary.”