SHAMROCK Rovers hope to have their new manager - almost certainly Pat Fenlon - in the dugout for their next league game, at home to Derry City on Friday, the Rovers board hoping that a rapid appointment can save their season and at least achieve European qualification for next year.
It has been a traumatic few days for the Hoops, as Trevor Croly's 18-month spell as manager ended in the aftermath of Friday's dismal 4-1 defeat away to Limerick, Rovers confirming on Saturday morning that they had parted ways with their boss.
Croly's assistant John Gill took charge of the side for Saturday's friendly against QPR, a 4-0 defeat, and former Dundalk boss Gill will also be at the helm for tonight's EA Sports Cup semi-final away to Bohemians (7.30).
Cup holders Rovers will be hoping hoping to get one over on their rivals who also had a bruising night on Friday, the Gypsies's six-game unbeaten run coming to an end with a 4-0 loss away to Derry City.
But Gill's reign is likely to be a short one, with Rovers aware of the need for a firm hand straight away.
When Rovers sacked Stephen Kenny in September 2012 they brought in a caretaker, Brian Laws, to see out the season before appointing Croly on a two-year deal but, crucially, European qualification was not achieved under Laws.
"The intention is to get a new man in quickly, there will be no hanging around and it's possible we could have someone in for the league game against Derry on Friday," said a Rovers source.
Former Sligo Rovers boss Ian Baraclough, out of work since leaving the Showgrounds in June, has been linked with the post while former Hoops player Paul Doolin could also be a contender, but in reality the Rovers job will go to Fenlon if he wants it. A Rovers supporter since childhood, Fenlon has been out of work since he was dismissed by Hibernians last year and a section of the Rovers support who were in Thomond Park to see that loss to Limerick on Friday made it clear that Fenlon was their No. 1 choice.
Retaining the EA Sports Cup is not a priority for Rovers but qualifying for Europe, following successive seasons out of UEFA competition, is a must. Despite a run of three defeats in four league games, Rovers are just three points off the top three - a third-place finish would bring Europa League football - while they are also still in the FAI Cup.
Club sources maintain that Croly's exit was amicable with the former boss admitting that he was no longer likely to turn things around.
"We were terrible on Friday, there's no doubt about that, the goals we gave away were very, very poor and that's disappointing. That has come on very quickly, over the last two or three weeks with negative vibe, the tide turned and it was hard to maintain it," Croly said, the coach aware of the danger signs after the previous week's home defeat to Drogheda United
"You could prepare all you wanted during the week, and we did. but we didn't get that out during the games. It was hard for players to perform when there was a lot of abuse and we had that, in the Drogheda game, players were being abused at half time and coming off the pitch. That needs to change, it needs to be better," Croly added.
Widely regarded as one of the best coaches around, management did not come easily to Croly but he insists that he will be back. "Other managers, like Liam Buckley, Stephen Kenny and Damien Richardson have been at Shamrock Rovers, they bounced back and had successful careers, and I will take what I learned into my next place of work and will be a better manager and coach for it," he added.