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08 Dec 2021

Inside Track: The Managerial roundabout keeps on spinning

Inside Track: The Managerial roundabout keeps on spinning

New Spurs manager Antonio Conte. (Pic: Sportsfile)

Managers are stepping in and out like no man’s business, almost every sport experiencing changes. Soccer is seeing the biggest turnover, but there’s also been activity in hurling and Gaelic football.

Steve Bruce was always fighting a losing battle at Newcastle. The 60-year-old, who has a better record than most having guided three teams to Premier League promotion, might have stuck it out a little longer had Mike Ashley retained ownership of the Tyneside club.

But with a change into foreign hands, the former Man U defender was always likely to suffer. It can’t be said the Magpies have benefitted from his departure.

Time will tell if Tottenham do any better in their sideline switch. Probably the biggest task facing Antonio Conte, the big-name replacement for Nuno Espirito Santo, will centre on getting the best from Harry Kane. The England player wanted away during the summer but was persuaded to stay.

Nothing Kane has done so far this season suggests he’s happy to be still wearing the famous white jersey.

And what of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer? He’s maybe lucky Alex Ferguson was about to persuade Cristiano Ronaldo to reunite with Old Trafford rather than head down the road to City when the Portuguese decided to rejoin the Premier League a few months ago.

But, then, is the Ferguson influence making it that bit more difficult for Solskjaer? There’s nowadays a hint of what it was like when Frank O’Farrell succeeded Wilf McGuinness at United all those years ago.

The legendary Matt Busby, by now ‘upstairs’ at Old Trafford, took more than a benign interest in what was happening on the field, and that didn’t make it easy for O’Farrell. The Corkman didn’t see out the time allotted to him.

Closer to home, Damien Duff has taken over at Shelbourne, while his one-time buddy – he might still be one – Stephen Kenny prepared for the most glamorous tie in his reign as Republic of Ireland team manager.

Ronaldo is came to The Aviva as part of the Portugal panel in last Thursday night’s World Cup qualifier, and you’d have to think he’s been largely responsible for that game being a 50,000-plus sell-out.

Like Kenny, his successor at Oriel Park, Vinny Perth, doesn’t know what the future holds. For that matter, neither does anyone who plays for, works for, or supports Dundalk FC. (This is being written last week, and news could emerge from the Carrick Road before words that are now appearing on screen here) There could be a new beginning at Oriel – Perth is deserving of being part of it.

Spurs might think they have a real capture in Conte, but over in Galway they’re really licking their lips after copping Henry Shefflin to look after the county hurling side.

This is more than just signing a big name; since quitting playing, Shefflin has made the transition to management a successful one, twice guiding his club, Ballyhale Shamrocks, to county, provincial and All-Ireland success.

Having at one time looked an obvious choice to succeed Brian Cody on the Kilkenny sideline, Shefflin now faces the prospect of some day going head to head with his former boss.

Former Louth senior team manager, Colin Kelly, must have a leaning towards counties whose names begins with ‘W’. He’s been to Westmeath and Wexford and is now in the Wicklow hot seat. He’ll complete the four-timer if he makes it to Waterford.

The Drogheda man’s latest move presents him with a challenge previously faced by, among others, Kerry legend, Mick O’Dwyer. Wicklow are a Division Three league side, and the county is one of only two in the country never to have won a provincial senior title. 

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