Ian Baraclough Interview, by Keith O’ Dwyer

It is rare for a manager to have two of his formers clubs meeting in an European tie but that is what happened for Ian Baraclough, who has previously managed in The Showgrounds and Fir Park.

Now manager of the Northern Ireland International side, Baraclough wouldn’t be drawn on whom he would have liked to see progress but in the end, The Bit O’ Red were victorious on a 3-0 aggregate scoreline over two legs.

With the game being called the ‘Ian Baraclough Derby’ by some and not just this interviewer as queried by Baraclough, he is happy to hear that this is the case as he has good memories of his time with both clubs:

“It is nice of people if they referred to the game that way, as I said I had good times at both clubs and look back on my time with both fondly. I think that looking back, that I achieved what I set out to do with both.

With Rovers, it was to win the League and win trophies and with Motherwell it was to stay in the League. So I do have a sense of pride from my time with both and I wish both clubs well.”

No stranger to these type games from his time with Rovers when his side faced Slovakian team Spartak Trnava in the Europa League and Norwegian team Molde in the Champions League, Baraclough feels that it is all about who you draw and that what you hope is that you get drawn against a team of a similar standard:

“The thing with those types of games and I know this from my time with Rovers is that when the draw comes around you hope that it will be a favourable one. If you look at the teams we faced during my time with the club – Spartak Trnava and Molde – they were among the toughest teams we could have faced. They were better teams than us and that can be seen by the fact they qualify for Europe regularly and have the group stages at times as well. In the early rounds you want to try and draw a team of a similar standard.”

With Rovers now under the stewardship of one of Baraclough’s former players in John Russell, he was delighted to see Russell get the chance and thinks that the time is right for him to make the move into senior management:

“With the appointment of John Russell, I actually think that it has come at the right time for him. He has been involved in the underage set-up and was assistant manager to Liam Buckley. I brought him back to the club from St. Patrick’s Athletic in 2014 so know what sort of character he is and how determined he is and he will bring that trait into being a manager. He has earned his chance and it is great to see the club promoting from within. He knows the football club and has gotten off to a good start in getting through a couple of rounds in Europe as not many Rovers managers have done that. That will help those around him have confidence and will help him be more confident as well. He has been involved in some great times with this club and I know that he will want to be involved in more and I hope that he does really well with the club going forward.”

Of course 2022 marks the ten year anniversary of Baraclough’s first season with Sligo Rovers when the club won its first Premier Division title in 35 years, great memories for Baraclough who can’t believe how fast the years have gone:

“Well the first thing I thought is didn’t those 10 years go quickly! It was when I was asked to be involved in the recent documentary on that season that it dawned on me that it had been ten years.

”I have great memories of that season. It is always great to bring success to a football club because in this game you experience more disappointments than you do success. So when you win cups and trophies those memories always stay with you. I look back on that season and it was nothing but a happy time, it was great for the town and the team and it was just a great period that I can always look back on. To be a part of the club’s history is something very special to me and as well after winning the League we backed up that success with winning the FAI Cup and the Setanta Sports Cup. It’s just that it was ten years ago, I can’t believe where that’s gone!”

By Keith O’ Dwyer