Thursday 27 July 2017

Cook raised Sligo on diet of success

Eamonn Sweeney

I won't say that the departure of Paul Cook as manager of Sligo Rovers was like a death in the family, because I know what a death in the family is like. But there was a distinct air of sporting bereavement this week among the club's fans.

Cook arrived at The Showgrounds as a totally unknown and unproven quantity whose sum total of managerial experience was a few months at Southport after which he was sacked. He leaves Sligo, having steered Rovers to two FAI Cups, a League Cup, a league runners-up position, an FAI Cup finalists slot and two successive seasons of European football.

More importantly, these achievements were accomplished by teams who played a style of attacking football which Sligo fans had never witnessed before. In fact, Cook's insistence on the passing game made his Rovers team one of the most attractive to grace the domestic game for many years. And that's why his departure will be a loss to the League in general as well as to Sligo. His new job is as boss of Division Two side Accrington Stanley but I think no-one who's followed the man's career will be surprised to see him ending up managing at a much higher level.

The choice of his replacement will have significant repercussions for the coming season given that only Sligo and Pat's have any chance of preventing Shamrock Rovers from making it three titles on the trot. And I'd have to say that the newspaper reports tipping Roddy Collins as Cook's successor gave me the kind of shiver you experience when a bikini-clad girl in a slasher movie announces that she's going outside in the dark to check what made that mysterious noise.

Cook's great gift to Sligo was to lend stability to a club whose fortunes have oscillated wildly over the years. Rovers currently have their strongest squad in years, a solid fan base, the best playing surface in the league and a track record of success. It beggars belief that anyone would propose to appoint at this juncture a manager whose career over the past 10 years, since his time at Bohemians, has been high on drama, low on achievement and about as stable as the economic situation in Greece.

There are plenty of Rovers fans who'd like to see Roddy in charge at The Showgrounds. The only problem is that they're Shamrock Rovers fans.

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