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Laws back to basics with Rovers

BRIAN LAWS wasted no time in starting to size up the League of Ireland and the challenge ahead of him in getting his new club, Shamrock Rovers, into Europe.

Just five hours after Laws' appointment as the Hoops' "Director of Football" for the rest of the 2012 season was confirmed in a press release by the club, the 50-year-old was attending a match, slipping into Hunky Dorys Park in Drogheda last night to check out Drogheda United as they took on St Patrick's Athletic in an FAI Cup tie.

Funny how football turns out: in January 2010 Laws was manager of a Premier League side (Burnley) heading to arenas like Anfield, Old Trafford and Stamford Bridge, so heading to Drogheda's tiny old ground on his first spying mission must have caused mixed emotions for Laws. Laws slipped out again before the end of the game so it's hard to know what he thought of the game, one he needed to see as Drogheda will provide the opposition for his first game in charge, in Saturday's League Cup final.

But it's clear that Laws still has a bit of learning to do, with a slip of the tongue on his first day at work causing some raised eyebrows. Speaking to RTE's MNS show last night he managed to confuse his employers, referring to the reigning league champions as Shelbourne before correcting himself. "At least he didn't call us Bohemians," one Rovers fan quipped after hearing Laws' remark.

If that's the only mistake he makes in his time at Rovers, Hoops supporters will be happy, as the task set before the former Sheffield Wednesday and Burnley boss is clear: win you next game (the EA Sports Cup final) to make sure there's a trophy on board by the end of the season and also make a real push in the final six league games of the season to nab the top-three finish which Rovers will need to make it into Europe.

Beyond that, it's unclear what will happen with Laws and with the club. It's significant that the ex-Nottingham Forest man has been appointed as their temporary 'Director of Football', as the title used is thought to be related to the severance package for their departed manager Stephen Kenny as the hiring of someone with the title of 'manager' could have caused issues for Rovers as they sort out terms with Kenny.

It's also important that he's been brought in on a short-term contract, and it's likely that the three-year deal handed to Kenny before the start of the current season will be the last time that an Irish club will ever award such a long-term deal to a boss.

The rest of this season will dictate how things shape up for Rovers: failure to qualify for Europe next season would not only affect the club financially but would also impact on their squad plans.

Laws will come into Rovers as a fresh pair of eyes, untainted by personal experiences or relationships with players and allow him to make a cold, clinical assessment of where the members of the current Rovers squad stand, with one of the charges made against Kenny by his critics at the club was that he signed players with whom he was familiar, players who were not necessarily what Rovers needed.

"What we have said is that I will come in and look at the short-term objectives, get the season out of the way and try to get a third spot at least and maybe win the Cup on Saturday," Laws said.

"Beyond that we have to wait and see. This is new to me but what I will be bringing to the club is experience and knowledge, hopefully I can calm things down and play some good football.

"I have seen a few games already, I will be watching a lot of DVDs over the coming nights to familiarise myself with the players, but football is football, it's about organisaton and working with football players, that's what I have done all my life, if it's in Ireland or Scotland or wherever it's about winning games."

"I am honoured to be asked to come to Shamrock Rovers for the last part of the season, there's still a lot to play for for Shamrock and it's not over.

"There's a European place at stake and a Cup final on Saturday, it's about coming in and calming things down, but hopefully trying to change things for a positive way for Shelbourne - sorry - so that we can move forward, against some really good sides."


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