JOE's Airtricity League Preview: Sligo Rovers
How will the men from Sligo do this year? Here's our preview.
Colours: Home - All Red, Away - All Blue
Home: The Showgrounds
Manager: Ian Baraclough
Nickname: The Bit O'Red
2014 odds: 3/1
Sligo Rovers are experiencing the most successful period in their history. Firmly established now as one of the big clubs in Ireland, they are second favourites for the Airtricity League title, just behind last season's champions, St Patrick's Athletic.
They've won many admirers in the league with their free flowing, ball-on-the-deck style of football. The Showgrounds is a real fortress and not many teams leave there with a positive result. Sligo fans feared the departure of Paul Cook back across the water would signal an end to their purple patch of success, but Ian Baraclough (pic below) has stepped in to fill the void and has continued the success enjoyed by the club from the North-West.
The loss of Danny Ventre to North-West rivals Derry City is a big one as he captained Sligo to much of their recent success. However, Baraclough hasn't been idle during the close season and has made some decent looking signings.
The capture of Eric Odhiambo already looks significant. On his debut against Crusaders in the Setanta Cup, he scored a hat-trick. People questioned why Anthony Elding was allowed to leave the club to join Cork City, but Odhiambo already looks like a more than capable replacement. Sligo have quality throughout the squad and will again be one of the teams up there at the business end of the season.
Joseph Ndo is still an absolute joy to watch and he'll be there again pulling the strings for Sligo this season. Just look at this outrageous piece of skill from the former Cameroon international:
They've also signed another striker, Sean Maguire, on loan from West Ham United. He signed for the Hammers from Waterford United last year and looks like a player with real potential. Firepower wise, Sligo look like they have a number of quality options. It's been an incredible few years for Sligo Rovers and we see nothing to suggest that it won't be anything different in this campaign.
As far as we can see, the Bit O'Red will have a major say in where the Airtricity League ends up this season.
Players in: Sean Maguire, Richard Brush, Paul O'Conor, Kalen Spillane, Eric Odhiambo (pic above),
Did You Know?: Footballing legend Dixie Dean played seven league games and scored nine goals for Sligo back in 1939. He scored five in one match against Waterford.
Hopes: Sligo have been the dominant team in the FAI Cup over the past few years, appearing in four of the last five finals and winning three of them. It is the league they most cherish, however, and they will want to win the title again having won it as recently as 2012.
Player To Watch: Eric Odhiambo
If they were a big European club: Chelsea - Cup specialists and always a force in the league.