The 2013 pre-season campaign is underway for the Airtricity League title holders Sligo Rovers and the question is can they continue to build on the success the club has achieved over the last number of years? Rovers won the FAI Ford Cup in 2010 and 2011 and won the league for the first time in 35 years in a historic match against St. Patrick’s Athletic in the Showgrounds last season.
“To retain the title first and foremost…to do well in Europe would be great if we can win a couple a rounds in the Champions League and if we fail to get into the Champions League the group stages proper, then the chance of getting into the group stages of the Europa League”, Ian Baraclough Rovers manager responded when asked about this season’s hopes. This hunger is of course shared by the players.
Rovers are currently unbeaten in their pre season campaign which is an encouraging sign that the club is striving to maintain the success of previous season’s.
With the loss of Gerry Carr on the coaching team manager Baraclough has recruited Gary Stevens as assistant manager the former Spur’s footballer will undoubtedly be a great asset to the Bit O’Red side.
Rovers had a very strong side last season but lost PFAI Player of the Year midfielder Mark Quigley and defender Jason Mc Guinness also nominated for the award to Shamrock Rovers. This shouldn’t be too much of a drawback for the squad with core members re signing to the squad including Captain Danny Ventre, Alan Keane, Rafael Cretaro, Ross Gaynor and Iarfhliath Davoren.
The latest signing to club of striker Anthony Elding is a boost for the team as striker Danny North whom was injured during the Europa League second leg, against Spartak Trnava last July is still out of action for the coming months.
Other signings include Aaron Greene who was Baraclough’s first new signing for the 2013 season, Greene is no stranger to the club having been at the showground’s during the 2011 season. Also centre back Evan Mc Millan has joined the squad having played with 7th placed in the league Bohemians last season.
When Baraclough took over from Paul Cook last season expectations were high from the fans off the back of Cooks success and Baraclough didn’t disappoint. The players must keep standards high with Champions League football in particular to look forward to.
The Bit O’ Red side have won 4 of the 5 pre season games played and surprising a drew 1-1 against Finn Harps last week in the Showgrounds. The first division side held Rovers to a draw after the first 3 consecutive wins, despite the home side having the lion’s share of possession throughout the match.
The first three victories came from Sligo-Leitrim representative side, Salthill Devon and Jersey FA.
The club restored the winning streak beating Ballinamallard United 3-1 last Monday this. David Cawley showed supporters during the friendly why he was nominated for Young Player of the Year by unleashing an attack on goal from 40 yards.
This season is looking promising for Rovers and manager Ian Baraclough may arguably be under more pressure this season to deliver results after such a successful debut season, which was a great achievement for him as a manager after his previous job as manager of Scunthorpe United where he was dismissed.
All Rovers fans would like to relive the emotional scenes in the Showgrounds of last season.
Who do you think will win the Airtricity League this year?