Stevens: Exceptional atmosphere in Rovers camp
Assistant manager Gary Stevens has said there is an exceptional mood in the Sligo Rovers camp as pre-season continues for the Bit o’ Red.
Stevens signed a new contract to remain with the club for the 2014 season earlier this week and has spoken about a very positive vibe in the squad assembled for the new campaign.
He told sligorovers.com: “The atmosphere is very good in training. I thought we had a super group last year.
“But I actually just said to Ian a couple of days ago, I have a better feeling already about this year. There is an exceptional mood in the group. It is very advanced for this early stage.
“I’m really pleased to be with Sligo Rovers for another season. It is good to be out on the training pitch again now. We gave the players a plan for when they were away and we are confident that come the start of the season they will be fit, organised and ready for the new season.
“Pre-season is about getting fit first and foremost. We have a very good squad that would benefit from the addition of one or two more players. That is something we are looking at. At the moment we have a tight group with some talented players. You need lady luck on your side when you have a tight squad. We need to make sure the players work hard in pre-season but always to know when to step off.
“There needs to be a balance to make sure you don‘t leave yourself prone to injury. The players appreciate the need to have the right application at this time of year and over the next number of weeks we will work with them to get things right.
“Gone are the days where the first two weeks of pre-season was just running and you didn’t see a football.
“We do a lot of fitness work with the ball and of course the games will be welcome by the players and beneficial.”
Baraclough added the former England international to his backroom team for the 2013 season which ended in an FAI Cup win at the Aviva Stadium and qualification for the Europa League qualifying rounds.
Stevens said he felt the relationship between manager and assistant can prosper even more with a second season together.
He said: “I did enjoy working with Ian. We were happy with how the relationship worked and with more time working together, both of us will improve and that will only benefit the players and the entire football club.
“Every side in the league will be looking to strengthen and better their previous season. There are some teams with new managers and that promotes improvement.
“You have to look at the five or six clubs that will be up there again. Dundalk look strong at the moment, Shams, St Pat’s and a couple of others.
“But we have our ambitions to challenge on all fronts.”