Sunday 21 December 2014

Ian Baraclough - a Sligo giant brought low by pygmies

Published 29/06/2014 | 17:00

'The decision to get rid of Ian Baraclough, the most successful manager in Sligo Rovers' history, is one of such mind-boggling imbecility and ignorance it beggars belief'
'The decision to get rid of Ian Baraclough, the most successful manager in Sligo Rovers' history, is one of such mind-boggling imbecility and ignorance it beggars belief'

I never thought I'd be writing this but I'm deeply ashamed of Sligo Rovers. The decision to get rid of Ian Baraclough, the most successful manager in the club's history, is one of such mind-boggling imbecility and ignorance it beggars belief.

Those involved have very short memories. Baraclough came to the club's rescue when Rovers were left without a manager thanks to Paul Cook's decision to join Accrington Stanley a couple of weeks before the beginning of the 2012 season. The former Scunthorpe United boss didn't just restore stability, he steered the club to its first league title in 35 years, and only the third in its history.

It was a remarkable feat of management, not least because Rovers lost top scorer Danny North midway through the season and the outstanding Romuald Boco who joined Cook at Accrington during the run-in.

Last season Rovers led the league early on, eventually finishing third after losing several key players through injury. They had the consolation of winning what was perhaps the most exciting FAI Cup final of all-time. This season they have already lifted the Setanta Cup and lie fifth in the table. Not ideal but hardly grounds for a sacking, particularly when this year's squad, to the outside eye, looks like it may have been subject to budgetary constraints and the side has again been decimated by injuries.

Rovers opted to replace Baraclough with John Coleman, a fiftysomething English manager whose previous job saw him fired by Southport of the Conference Premier after they finished just two points ahead of the relegation zone.

According to the Liverpool Echo, Southport "claimed his style of touchline behaviour towards referees and assistants threatened the club's family values". Which would seem to contrast somewhat with Baraclough's reputation as one of the game's gentlemen. Before that Coleman managed Rochdale when they were relegated to the bottom flight of the Football League.

Ironically, Coleman fetched up at Rochdale after leaving Accrington Stanley to be replaced by a former player of his. The player? Paul Cook. It's a small world.

Rovers had the poor taste to, as Sligo journalist Liam Maloney pointed out on Twitter, present this outstanding new acquisition to the local media by sitting him at a table holding trophies won by Baraclough.

Sligo Rovers have been a wonderful part of my life. They have entertained me and consoled me and thrilled me. Occasionally they disappointed me and frustrated me. But this is the first time they ever disgusted me.

Ian Baraclough is a giant brought low by pygmies. In the words of Bob Dylan, "I hope the men who shot him down will get what they deserve".

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