'Prove we're not one-season wonders'
THE CHALLENGE for Sligo Rovers now is to prove that they are not just 'one season wonders'
That's the defiant battlecry of manager, Ian Baraclough, as he plots a strategy to build on this year's historic breakthrough.
Rovers ended thirty-five agonising years for League glory this year but Baraclough is already looking forward to what he believes will be an even bigger challenge in 2013.
Sacked by Scunthorpe United in 2011, the Leicester-born manager not only revived his own career at the Showgrounds but instilled a new sense of ambition at the club.
"We've got to prove that we're not just one season wonders", he declared.
"We've got to push the boundaries further next year. We've set the bar very high for ourselves and that will make next season all the harder
"But that's the challenge that's facing me as a manager and the club overall and we've got to be positive about that and push on"
As negotiations continue with players from the 2012 squad, Baraclough said the club would be spreading the net far and wide, in Ireland and England, to try to improve the panel.
He's returning to England this week and will be following up his extensive contact network in a bid to unearth players for Rovers.
"That's all part of the process the club is involved in at the moment", he explained.
"We had a brilliant season last year and with a few additions to the squad, we will be even stronger next season.
"That's the objective - to build a squad strong enough to challenge for domestic silverware and to do well in Europe next year"
When Baraclough took over the managerial reins last February, the 2012 squad was already in place but now he's got to rebuild the panel and put his own stamp on it. "That's all part of the learning curve", he said. "Winning the League was a brilliant experience and now my job is to assemble a squad for next year. That's a different sort of challenge but I'm enjoying that part of the job as well"
Baraclough described himself as the proudest man in Ireland when Rovers won the League and said he has been genuinely moved by the reaction to the club's success. "I feel priviliged to be part of it", he insisted. "I've become so wrapped up in it all that I consider myself a real Sligonian now, even though I've only been here eight months.
"The reaction in the town and the county to our success was just incredible. There was a real sense of joy and pride everywhere and it was lovely to be part of that. "I was priviliged that the club put their trust in me and that I was able to deliver. Sligo will always be part of me"
Having sampled the lows in football during his time with Scunthorpe, Baraclough is acutely aware that it can all change overnight. "Of course, you have to accept that", he said. "I know that if we don't do well next year, the reaction from our fans will be completely different.
"But I believe that we can move on and bring more success to the club. That's what we're planning for"