On a recent edition of the Big Kick Off League of Ireland podcast, the conversation veered towards the future of Liam Buckley as the Sligo Rovers boss.
While our personal discussion unanimously concluded in agreement that sacking the 61-year-old would be a rash, and quite frankly idiotic panic decision. Even the staunchest Buckley supporters can’t deny the torrid run his side find themselves on.
Hard Times At Sligo
The Bit O’ Red currently sit in third place, occupying one of those lucrative European spots. They have Drogheda United, Bohemians and Derry City on their tails for that bronze medal league position. In what’s expected to be a razor close battle for European football next season.
However, the Connacht side find themselves on a seven-game losing streak in all competitions. With four of those defeats coming in league action.
Goals have dried up too for Buckley’s men, with them only finding the net four times throughout this disaster patch.
Albeit they produced an admirable performance in their last outing against Derry City, in the Showgrounds, but ultimately fell victim to a late Ronan Boyce finish. Handing the Candystripes a 2-1 victory, and all three points.
Sligo are rubbing shoulders with the upper echelon of the domestic league, and deservedly so.
He’s their sixth manager, since the departure of Ian Baraclough in 2014, the man that guided Sligo to their first league title, since 1977.
That’s without mentioning the two caretaker spells of Gavin Dykes in 2014 and 2015 respectively. With club legend, Joey N’do working alongside Dykes for the latter brief spell.
Buckley, who won several league titles as a player, and a manager done what the other five coaches before him failed to do, deliver European football back to the proud folks of Sligo.
In a cruel twist of faith, that turned out to be the start of his current downfall.
Silverware Out Of The Question
A source close to Sligo Rovers has told the Big Kick Off, that local sponsors were extremely unhappy that club were dumped out of both the FAI Cup, and Europe, in the space of ten days, back in July.
Of course, referring to Sligo’s 3-1 aggregate defeat to Icelandic side, FH Hafnarfjordur in the first qualifying round of the inaugural Europa Conference League. Starting them on this current horrific run of form.
Especially considering it was seen as a somewhat favourable tie by the Sligo Rovers faithful.
Plus, a shock loss at the hands of First Division side Cork City, in the first round of the 2021 FAI Cup.
Buckley will be hoping new recruits, Andre Wright and Melvyn Lorenzen can enter the fold this coming Friday, against Drogheda, at Head in the Game Park.
Interest in former Dundalk winger, Nathan Oduwa has reportedly faded. Despite the 25-year-old being spotted in Sligo ahead of a proposed move to the Showgrounds.
They’ll also be desperate for Greg Bolger to return from injury. And slot in beside Adam McDonnell. As the Dubliner has impressed since coming in on a free, from Boreham Wood in July.
Missing key personnel throughout the duration of the season would hinder any squad, especially one as thin as Sligo Rovers.
But that may not be the only issue going on behind the scenes. As the disastrous results may be leading to a rapidly souring dressing room.
Again, a source close to the club has told the Big Kick Off, that midfielder Jordan Gibson is expected to leave Sligo Rovers.
An announcement is due in the coming days. With the 23-year-old believed to be returning to England, as a move to League Two side Carlisle United is seemingly on the table for Gibson.
The club based out of the Northwest of England, find themselves in 13th position after five games. With just the one win under their belts, against Swindon Town, on their first away trip of the season.
This follows rumours circulating around the Sligo area, that the pacey winger is looking to leave the club.
Romeo Parkes is another name looking for time away, during such a significant stage of the season.
It’s believed that the 30-year-old striker is looking to return to his native Jamaica, to finalise a property deal. Whether that favour is granted to him or not, rests with the club.
Those close to the situation are adamant that dressing room tension has been building ever since the mid-season break. With several figures playing their own part to contribute to that.
However, with the final stretch of fixtures fast approaching, Sligo Rovers are in desperate need of a change in fortunes, and performances.
They have games in hand over teams like St. Patrick’s Athletic, Derry and Drogheda, who occupy spaces around them.
But with their results plummeting the way they are, it won’t be long before Sligo begin to free fall down the table at an alarming rate.
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Is Liam Buckley still the man for the job at Sligo Rovers? Can they turn things around ahead of the final stretch? Do you think Jordan Gibson is making the right decision?
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