I remember John Robertson crossing for Trevor Francis in Munich in 1979 and a year later, Robbo scoring against Hamburg Madrid. Brian Clough and Nottingham Forest were irresistible. Martin O’Neill was injured and on the bench for the first of those European Cup finals against Malmo, but played as Nottingham Forest retained the trophy a year later. Forest were everyone’s second team.
We should have beat them in the 1983 Uefa Cup. We bossed the first leg 0-0 in Nottingham, but Clough knew what Ferguson knew at Aberdeen – soak up pressure from Celtic and hit them on the counter. The Celtic team of the 80s knew only to attack, it was our repeated downfall domestically and in Europe.
When Martin came to Celtic in 2000 as manager, everything changed in Scottish football. We have lost only five titles since – by a combined points tally of 12, whereas we have won 13 titles, most of them by double digit margins. For this, Martin will always be royalty. Only Henrik Larsson comes close to the esteem he is held in by Celtic supporters.
So I’m fond of Forest and adore Martin, but the latter has let his heart rule his head in becoming manager at City Ground. The game as moved on spectacularly from when Martin arrived at Celtic. His achievements at Ireland are better than many give credit for, but you could see the echoes in Ireland on how we used to play. It will not work in England. Forest may bounce on the sheer enthusiasm Martin will bring to the club, but this appointment will not end well.
Yaya Toure responded positively when asked if he would like to join Celtic. The big guy has achieved more in the game than anyone currently at the club will, but the warning signs are writ large. “Contract terminated by mutual agreement”, the statement which accompanied his departure from Olympiacos last month, is seldom a sign of a bargain.
We are not in crisis; we are not desperate for cover in central mid. If the big guy can bring over the best young talent from Ivory Coast, go ahead. Otherwise, stick to plan.