Garry Birtles: Nottingham Forest may face a long search for a genuine leader
SEAN O'Driscoll is spot on – Nottingham Forest are missing a genuine midfield leader.
If they could roll back the years and draft a younger Paul McKenna back into the central of midfield, it could, for me, be one of the final pieces of the promotion jigsaw.
Unfortunately for them, not only is McKenna in the twilight of his career, but he is also a dying breed.
I am convinced that, in my day, strong, hardened characters were ten a penny.
Every team seemed to be packed full of players who would be happy to give you a piece of their mind if you did something wrong, or if you were not pulling your weight.
We had a team full of them at Forest. Everyone would be shouting, encouraging and rollicking each other for 90 minutes in every game.
Now, I am not sure I could name you more than a dozen in the modern game.
John Terry, Rio Ferdinand, Steven Gerrard, Wayne Rooney . . . then things start to dry up a little.
There are still inspirational figures in the game, players who stand out as captains.
But not the kind of men who can single-handedly drive a team, when it comes to motivation and organisation.
The like of McKenna are few and far between. Footballers do not seem to have the same steel about them, the same strength of character.
But I have a theory about that.
For me, it is because they are so shielded from life; protected from the real world.
If you come through the academy system in professional football, from the time you get to 16 or 17, you become absorbed into the game and the way of life that goes with it.
If you do make it as a professional, most things are taken care of for you.
Clubs have people who will help you find a place to live; many have flats themselves, ready for new signings to move into.
Car companies fall over themselves to offer you deals on their prestige models, because they think it gives them kudos to have footballers driving them.
At Manchester United, they even have people who drive the players' cars around to a private exit, so they can drive off without being seen after a game.
I know things are not the same at Championship level. Players are not mollycoddled to the same degree.
But the simple act of everyday life is so much different.
You don't even need a computer any more. You can pay all your bills, do all your shopping, arrange your entire life from the comfort of your sofa, as long as you have mobile phone.
Everything can be done online. There is no human interaction any more.
In my day, you had to go to the post office, you had to go to the supermarket, you had to go and buy your clothes . . . you were immersed in society.
As players, we were like any other group of lads who worked together. We would go for a beer, we would meet our mates in the pub. You lived a normal life.
Now, even in the Championship, you can be a household celebrity name, if you are a footballer.
You are cocooned in a football bubble.
And, with celebrity, comes ego and a detached sense of reality.
Don't get me wrong, I don't think it is a crisis.
Certainly at Forest, O'Driscoll has assembled a group of players who seem to be decent characters.
He will know the importance of that – as demonstrated by his views on McKenna this week.
What Forest have is a group of players who are decent, driven people.
They have players who have experienced success at this level and are hungry for more.
They have players like Danny Collins, Andy Reid, Jermaine Jenas and Dexter Blackstock who can set the example for the rest to follow.
But they don't quite have a McKenna type, or a John McGovern, for that matter.
There was a reason why Cloughie took McGovern, Archie Gemmill and John O'Hare with him everywhere he went.
It was because he knew they were good, reliable characters. He could depend on them.
From the outside looking in, I can see players in the current Forest dressing room who O'Driscoll will have the same faith in.
I suspect that was probably what made him sign Simon Gillett, for example.
But, in the short-term future, Forest will have to rely on the players they have got to take responsibility; to be the leaders within the squad.
If O'Driscoll can unearth a McKenna type figure during the January window, it would be a welcome boost.
But, in a world where footballers are treated like celebrities, rather than human beings, I fear such characters are going to be a thing of the past.