Confidence is the key to recent improvement
TWO weeks ago, Rovers couldn't buy a goal. And now, they've scored ten goals in two games. Has normality resumed? Are we finally reaching our best? Will it continue this way?
Yes, it's taken Rovers a few games to gel together and to find their feet, but I think we've done it now. Our squad IS stronger than last year. People were questioning Ian Baraclough's purchases over the winter but they're beginning to come through.
Baraclough is one of, if not the, best manager in the league. He's so professional, he'll very rarely say a bad word about his team, has great man management skills and you just know that every player in that dressing room has the utmost respect for him. He's not stupid. These people who still think he's a useless manager need their heads testing.
We so often hear about dressing room rifts at other clubs, how often has that happened at Rovers since Baraclough took over? He knows what he's doing, and he even managed to get the best out of a certain Mr. Mark Quigley who hasn't done a whole pile since leaving Rovers. Baraclough has shown a huge amount of belief in some of those players, and he's finally seeing the results.
In 2012, we had a squad full of players who could score goals. We never relied on just one player.
Every outfield player could score goals, and I'm sure Gary Rogers could too. Last year, we lost that a little bit, it was all Elding for a while.
Obviously, we struggled at the start this year. But on Friday night, we scored five goals, and had five different goal-scorers. From our full-backs to our strikers, every single one of them is capable of scoring. Confidence has a huge part to play in that and I really hope that players have found a bit of belief in themselves after the great week we've had.
To win 5-1 against Pats anytime would be sweet, but to win that well after a poor run of form is just excellent. We were so depressed about Cork, I know Baraclough was positive after it because we played so well, but thankfully we were able to build on that performance and hammer Pats.
To then be able to go and build on that even further and hammer UCD is so encouraging. We need to be able to build momentum. To perform that well on a gorgeous evening in front of 3,331 people is absolutely huge for the club.
The buzz around the place reminded me of the good 'ol days of 2012. I really hope Friday night brings people back. We need a buzz surrounding Sligo Rovers once again.
Paul O'Conor's goal was a cracker, Aaron Greene's was excellent, and Ledwith's was also brilliant. Goals bring confidence. And I'm thrilled for O'Conor. He needs that bit of confidence as he settles into the squad. He's getting better each week, and I think people are finally going to see that he is a very good player, once he can believe that he is good enough to be there.
Ledwith, too, has improved hugely in the last couple of games. He's been really good on the left wing, and it works much better with Ross Gaynor at left-back.
Kieran Djilali's fitness has improved too, and Conneely and Henderson have returned from injury.
I'm sure Aaron Greene has finally won people over as well.
Yes, he was inconsistent at times last year, but the man's been brilliant in our last few games. Aaron Greene at the minute is probably our best player. When at his best, the man is unstoppable, defences cannot deal with him.
I know people are giving out about the fact that the Setanta Cup final is going to be in Tallaght Stadium, but it does have to be a neutral venue. And for those complaining that it's benefiting Shamrock Rovers, or biased towards Shams or whatever - they don't own Tallaght Stadium. This has nothing to do with Shams.
I'm only disappointed it's not in The Showgrounds because I had my 21st booked for that night, but I shall move on and get over it.
We need a day out anyway. Wouldn't it be a bit boring if it was at home?