Wednesday 21 March 2018

Sligo fear exodus if Cook moves on

Ruaidhri O'Connor

Ruaidhri O'Connor

SLIGO Rovers midfielder Danny Ventre has warned that if boss Paul Cook leaves the Showgrounds in the close season, some of the players could follow suit.

Ventre is preparing for his fourth cup final with the club against Shelbourne at Lansdowne Road this Sunday, having led the Bit O'Red out in last year's FAI Cup decider against Shamrock Rovers.

But, along with all the other Sligo players involved in the game, his contract runs out once the final whistle blows.

And while the club are set to resume contract negotiations with players after the decider, Ventre believes it could be hard to keep the squad together if the manager -- who last week turned down an offer from Scottish Premier League side St Johnstone -- was to move elsewhere.

"He's such a good manager and gets on with the lads so much, I can't imagine another manager here and all the lads getting on with him," he said.

"There is not one player in our changing-room that he doesn't get on with.

"I've never seen that at a club before -- there's usually always someone that does not like the manager.

"If he was to go I think some other lads might go as well."

Many of the Rovers players could find themselves with another cup medal but without a job come next Monday, but Ventre admits that they just have to stay focused on the game, having stumbled in the final weeks of the league campaign and seen their title aspirations slip away.

"It's hard sometimes and lads' heads can be affected, but you have to trust that if a manager says that he wants to sign you, that he will sign you," said the man who went to the same Liverpool school as Wayne Rooney.

"A lot of the lads will have to go and sign on after Sunday, but that's the situation we have to deal with and it is the same across the league to be honest.

"Some lads have got families to support and houses to pay for, and it is hard for them."

Cook has admitted the timing of the contract situation is far from ideal as Sligo bid to retain the trophy won on penalties last season.

After turning down St Johnstone, he will be one of the few club employees still in contract on Monday.

"It is not great timing," he said. "You're now trying to go into contract talks with players on the week of a cup final. But it is something we have been trying to do over the last couple of weeks.

"We are going to be in a position to offer players contracts for next year.

"We want to be a successful club and challenging for titles, so we are just trying to say to our lads, 'trust us and be patient because we believe in you and we won't let you down'.

"If we could keep the squad that we have and bring two or three top players in, we would challenge next year."

Cook warned that clubs who offer 40-week contracts for financial reasons are in danger of losing their best players.

"The clubs are all under financial pressure, and managers realise that. But teams could lose two or three players every year when they are trying to rebuild," he said.

Irish Independent

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