Kinnear focuses on avoiding the drop

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The Independent Football

Joe Kinnear has arrived at Nottingham Forest on a mission to keep them in the First Division, little more than a decade after he condemned them to relegation.

Kinnear, then the Wimbledon manager, had been responsible for the Dons' 1-0 victory which saw Forest forfeit their top-flight status at the end of the 1992-93 season, the final year of Brian Clough's reign.

Now Kinnear has followed in the footsteps of Clough and assumed managerial control at the crisis-hit East Midlands club whose winless streak stands at 14 consecutive League games.

But the 57-year-old revealed that he intended to repay his debt to the Forest faithful by hauling the club out of the First Division drop zone, where they currently occupy the third relegation spot.

"Forest came down to play us in April 1993 and they needed to win to stay up," Kinnear said. "But we beat them 1-0 to send them down and, as I remember, it was a goal from Andy Clarke who did it for us. Strange how things work out but I'm here now and my only priority is to avoid relegation again.

"This is a big club, a proper football club with a history and they should be playing Premiership football - I know that's a cliché and people say it about a lot of clubs but in this case it's true. I'm on a year-to-year rolling contract but at the moment we're looking no further than the end of this season.

"At that point I intend to sit down with the chairman and discuss a hit list of players but at the moment there's no other focus than to keep this club in the First Division."

Kinnear, whose first match in charge of Forest is at home to Walsall on Saturday, has signed a rolling contract until the end of the season. He confirmed he had watched the Forest squad train for the first time this morning and then met the players for a heart-to-heart chat.

"I thought the lads were bright and chirpy but I've told them the League table doesn't lie at this stage of the season," he said. "I've told them they've got to prove their critics wrong against Walsall on Saturday when they've got to go out there and get a win."