THE NEW season hasn't commenced yet but the signs are good, as Ian Baraclough was named Sports Writers Personality of the Year and Gary Rogers named 'Keeper of the Year.
It's wonderful to receive these awards as for many a year we would not have been considered even for a nomination. That's twice in three years we have had a personality winning the main award.
The announcement of Gary Stevens (pictured) as assistant manager on a one year deal was made over the weekend. It's a high profile appointment with the ex Spurs and UEFA cup winner bringing a wealth of experience with him to the Showgrounds. Ian inherited his backroom staff last year and probably felt the need to bring in a man of his own.
Stevens' knowledge of the league may be minimal, but his experience as a player and his connections across the pond can only help everyone associated with our club.
The holder of a pro license will ensure the players will avail of top class coaching from the ex-England international. The only concern I have is the financial package he may be coming in on as a man of his stature. The player front has remained quiet with small murmurs, but nothing concrete at present. The team are back training this week and I'm sure their will be plenty of movement over the next few weeks.
Limerick City appointed the largely unknown Stuart Taylor as their manager in the last few days. I suppose we were all shocked at his appointment after the list of names that had been connected with the job. It's a similar predicament to our own, when Ian became our manager, as how many honestly had heard of him before! Limerick are going to be an interesting proposition this year and will add to our league greatly.
Seamus Coleman went on many a foray up the right wing in his spell at the Showgrounds, but his foray up the wing in Cheltenham last Monday ended with his finest goal to date.
It's been a wonderful week for the Killybegs man culminating with the signing of a five and a half year contract. When I see the money Derry commanded for Stephen Mc Laughlin from a championship club, we gave Seamus away for nothing. I know it can be hard to predict if players will succeed when they make the move, but anyone who played or knew Coleman had no doubt.
Lionel Messi won his fourth Balon D'Or overtaking players of the calibre of Zidane. It's a remarkable achievement for the pint sized genius and considering his age he could have it home with him many times in the future. I feel a little bit sorry for Ronaldo, as in any other era he would be the main man and his goal record for Real Madrid has to be applauded.
Ronaldo doesn't help himself with his on pitch behaviour and theatrics, while with Messi you feel he's having a kick about with his pals. The world team of the year was also chosen consisting only of La Liga players with half the team of Spanish nationality. I'm sure over the course of the year, Sky Sports and the English media will once again try to convince us that the Premiership is the best league in the world, but how wrong they are?
As a player in his thirties at a completely different level. I have a lot of empathy with the treatment of Frank Lampard at present. He is everything that is good about our game, yet his club is everything I deplore. He is playing some of the best football of his career, yet is going to be shown the exit door at Stamford Bridge.
We have a concept around these parts that a player is over the hill when he hits his mid thirties or even early thirties. Players at any age should only be judged on performance and anyone watching Lampard on Saturday would have to admit his performance was world class.
The FIFA Pro squad made their annual visit to Norway last week under the guidance of Pat Scully. It's the weakest squad that has travelled in recent years, but one name bounced of the page at me as a potential signing. Mark Rossister was that player and a technician of his intelligence and versatility could fit in comfortably to our squad. I appreciate he has been hampered by injuries at many times during his career, but when he was playing and usually with the top team in the country he was one of the finest players on his day.
He is a local lad, is a good professional and has won trophies where ever he has been. I know he has offers on the table, but I would definitely take a punt on Rossi.
THE RED ZONE