Limerick boss takes inspiration from Barca
STUART TAYLOR insists his appointment as Limerick FC's new manager bears little risk for the League of Ireland club.
Unveiled yesterday as Pat Scully's successor, Taylor referenced the decision Barcelona made five and a half years ago when they opted for Pep Guardiola to replace Frank Rijkaard as evidence that sometimes it is wise to place your faith in a rookie.
This particular rookie arrives with a credible CV – one that includes an appearance on the coaching ticket at Norwich City last season before a six-month spell in Qatar saw him complete his UEFA Pro Licence, just days before Paul Lambert, his friend and mentor, recommended him to Limerick's owner Pat O'Sullivan.
Handed a three-year-contract earlier this week – and unveiled to the media yesterday – the 38-year-old Glaswegian represents the best of all worlds for the Shannonsiders, who return to the Premier Division this season after a 19-year absence.
Passionate and driven, he brings the experience of having spent a year in the English Premier League, and three more years in the SPL, with Hamilton and St Johnstone, as well as a familiarity with the League of Ireland dating back to his time playing for Drogheda United.
More to the point, there is a willingness to get his hands dirty, work hard and see out his contract – rather than use Limerick as a stop-gap job until a preferred employer comes along.
"I'm not going to say in three years, 'that's it, I'm away now'. I'm here long-term. I have big ambitions but I'm a firm believer that to achieve, you need to be patient, with yourself, with your club.
"Anyone looking for a quick fix in football will fail. Clubs hoping for short-term answers to long-term problems end up wasting money and going bust.
"I've never been interested in money. Any time I signed for a manager, the question was: 'What formation are you going to play? What are your facilities like?'
"But I'm not naive, either. In the world we live in, unfortunately people can be money-orientated but the players I will be seeking to sign will be motivated by success not by euros."
While Taylor's motivation is partially personal, O'Sullivan's is largely parochial. A native of Limerick, he made his money in the coal trade and is reinvesting it in his primary sporting passion.
"There are socio-economic benefits to the region when a team does well," O'Sullivan said. "You only have to look at what Munster have done for Limerick to know what I'm talking about."
Certainly, both Taylor and O'Sullivan are hoping their club's relocation to Thomond Park for this coming season can bite as deeply into Limerick's soul as Munster rugby has done.
Taylor said: "Thomond is a fantastic stadium and we aim to use that to our advantage. The rugby team has done superbly well there over the last number of years.
"People are proud of them. I aim to make them proud of us. If they see a group of driven, committed players wearing their city's shirt then they will be proud."
Getting players on board is Taylor's immediate task. To date, just 10 are signed up for next season. In his favour, though, is the fact that Limerick are the only League of Ireland side prepared to offer players a 52-week-per-year contract.
Taylor downplayed the significance of this yesterday.
Give him a year in the job and he'll soon come to realise, and relish, its importance. For in this league, the balance sheet, rather than the team sheet, counts.