Posts Tagged ‘ Coventry City ’

Former Hibs Favourite Gerry Baker Dies Aged 75


Hibernian FC have announced the sad news that former striker Gerry Baker has passed away aged 75 following a short illness.The news comes just over a month after the death of club legend Lawrie Reilly and Gerry took the time to travel to Edinburgh for the funeral although the two fans’ favourites never played in the same team. Continue reading

Five Irish Players Who Need A Move This August

kdAs all football fans know, the summer transfer window is a time of upheaval with fresh starts, new challenges and last chances for managers and players alike. However, sometimes there is a select few players that may be in need of a move to rekindle or enhance their international career.

Here we take a look at five Irish stars who all need a move before the transfer window slams shut at the end of August. Continue reading

Three Premier League Manager’s Whose Careers Ended Abruptly

curbsThey seemingly had it all, that aura of invincibility, the great reputation and the brightest of futures. So why then have three well known Premier League managers effectively ended their own careers despite the fact they are only in their mid fifties?

1)      Alan Curbishley

Universally praised for his work with Charlton, Alan Curbishley was one of the most promising managerial talents out there but incredibly he hasn’t held a managerial position since leaving West Ham over four years ago.

Curbishley’s last managerial role came to an abrupt end resigning from West Ham in protest at the then Icelandic owners’ failure to consult him over the sale of key players, eventually winning his case for constructive dismissal but in turn hampering his reputation to such an extent that he has failed to find his way back to the dugout.

The occasional TV pundit most recently expressed an interest in the vacancy at Ipswich Town, but was overlooked as The Tractor Boys hired ex Ireland manager Mick McCarthy.

With his Charlton side promoted as title winners  in 2000, he proceeded to turn them into a top flight fixture and model of stability, earning much praise along the way.

A ninth-place finish in their first season back was followed by consistent mid-table appearances throughout Curbishley’s reign. They peaked at seventh in the 2003-04 campaign where their traditional end of season slump combined with the departure of star man Scott Parker saw them fall just short of the European places.

Overall they prospered as a well-run family club which never lived outside of its means. Charlton were hardly the most adventurous of sides, but by effectively utilising fairly average players Curbishley helped the club to reap some handsome rewards.

Premier League safety was always a requisite for the Addicks, something Curbishley always achieved comfortably, despite calls for a more ambitious approach from fans who felt the club could take the next step up the Premier League ladder.

One year on (2006) and the signature of Darren Bent later, Curbs left 13th placed Charlton, a club he had a sixteen year affinity with, eleven of which were spent in sole charge of the team.

He left in search of a more high profile post and to satisfy those supporters who felt his reign had gone stale.

The expected offer from the England national team never arrived following Sven-Göran Eriksson’s departure, with then Middlesbrough  boss Steve McClaren the preferred candidate.

Curbishley remained in London and joined the Hammers. The heroics of a controversial Carlos Tevez kept saw them avoid the relegation trapdoor while Charlton, who couldn’t replace Curbishley, began a steep descent through the ranks of English football.

In his absence the South London club suffered further with financial troubles which saw them slide all the way to League One. Today they have regained their Championship status with their fans longing for a return to the top flight.

A second season at West Ham would be Curbishley’s last. He led his hometown team to the top half but events off the pitch proved his undoing. The 55 year old hasn’t returned to management since winning his lawsuit and it is unlikely he ever will do so.

2)      David O’Leary

At one stage in every manager’s career they reach their peak, an apparent summit where their essence of invincibility shines brightly. Sadly for David O’Leary the drop from such a state of security was more enlightening than the rise.

The ex Ireland international took the helm at Leeds United in 1998 after the departure of George Graham, leading the Yorkshire club to a fourth place finished and UEFA Cup qualification, which would see a heroic run to the semi final before a defeat to Galatasary saw their trophy aspirations fall by the wayside.

A year later and Leeds under the guidance of O’Leary had done what many thought was impossible, reaching the Champions League semi finals and a date with destiny. Sadly that date is forever etched into the club annals as the defeat to Valencia was the beginning of an almost end.

As Leed’s Premier League form dipped so too did their financial troubles as chairman Peter Risdale had taken out a substantial loan to the tune of £60 million, in a budget that was based around prolonged Champions League football, something that never materialised.

One year later and it looked like the club had a firm chance of winning the Premier League but a sudden loss of form in the second half of the 2001-03 season saw them slide to fifth. It was during this time that O’Leary penned a book entitled Leeds United on Trial, a book many thought he was using to cash in on the club’s turmoil.

By June 2002 O’Leary had spent almost £100 million on new players but had no trophies to show for it, despite never finishing outside the top six. Risdale sacked the ex Ireland international, in what became a signal for disaster. Three managers and the sale of several key players saw Leeds, with an $80 million debt problem, drop out of the Premiership. A further relegation from the Championship was to follow as the club teetered on the brink of extinction.

O’Leary resumed work a year later at Aston Villa. Early season form was poor and Villa flirted with relegation before an upturn on fortunes saw them finish sixth and narrowly miss out on European competition. It was a great achievement for O’Leary, who worked under severe financial constraints and cutbacks at the club.

The following season was a disappointing one, fans who had hoped to build on the credible sixth place finish were forced to settle for tenth.

The slide continued a year later as O’Leary became involved in bitter arguments with his own fans. Amidst all the turmoil fortunes on the pitch floundered and Villa finished sixteenth. That summer saw Villa players unite to publicly criticise club owner Doug Ellis, who went onto sack O’Leary before selling the club to Randy Lerner, who hired Martin O’Neill as O’Leary’s successor.

O’Leary returned to management four years later, taking up a mediocre role at United Arab Emirates side Al Ahli. His stay in the sunshine didn’t even last a year before he was relieved of his duties and the decision to sack O’Leary brought further acrimony to an already beleaguered career.

The man who came so close to bringing European success to Leeds is unlikely to ever hold down a significant job ever again.

3)Peter Reid

There’s some differences between the aforementioned duo and Peter Reid, a manager who is something of a journeyman and hasn’t enjoyed as much success. The scouser’s managerial career began at Man City before a seven year spell with Sunderland which he is best remembered for. Reid then went onto try and replace O’Leary at Leeds before taking on further positions at Coventry City, the Thailand national team and Plymouth Argyle.

Reid joined Sunderland in 1995 and at the time the North East club were battling against relegation from the first division. Reid managed to keep them up and turned their fortunes around a year later when they were crowned Champions and promoted to the Premier League.

However they joy was short lived as they bounced straight back to the first division. Reid remained in charge at the Stadium of Light and the club missed out on automatic promotion by one place. A solid playoff experience brought them to a historic Wembley final against Curbishley and Charlton which saw them miss out on penalties after an incredible 4-4 draw.

Reid galvanised the hurt and agony of that playoff defeat and one year later the Mackems tore the first division apart, amassing a record breaking 105 points enroute to the league title.

Their promotion saw them pick up where they left off, competing for a European place at the right end of the Premier League, narrowly missing out. The club did however manage a seventh palce finished, one of the highest achieved by a club straight after promotion.

Sunderland persevered under Reid and rid of their yo yo club tag, Many thought the 2001-02 season would bring Champions League football such was there impressive form but again they fell off the pace and could only secure a seventh placed finish.

One year later the club finished one place above the relegation zone and Reid was relieved of his duties.

Reid moved on and pitched up at Elland Road, where he guided Leeds clear from relegation before Risdale again opted to wield his axe.

An eight month spell at Coventry City did nothing to enhance his reputation and after an absence of almost four years Reid returned to management, taking up the position as Thailand head coach, much to the surprise of many. A one year spell in Asia bore no fruition and Reid joined Stoke City as assistant manager to Tony Pulis.

He later moved to Plymouth Argyle, a move which further dampened his reputation.

He has since come back on the footballing radar albeit as manager of Kolkata Camelians who play in the Bengal Premier League. Has he left them yet? It remains to be seen as there is little to no coverage of the newly set up league.

Gary Deegan injured in unprovoked attack outside nightclub

Hibs star Gary Deegan has suffered a suspected broken jaw after being subjected to an unprovoked attack outside a night club in Edinburgh city centre on the early hours of Sunday morning.

The incident happened around 3am on Sunday 7 October on George Street. The 25-year-old Dubliner had been within the Le Monde nightclub with several team-mates, and was standing near the Hardrock café when a male approached and punched him to the face.

An ambulance, which had been called by members of the public who witnessed the attack found the former Bohs midfielder on Rose Street and he was taken to hospital for treatment on a broken jaw. Officers are now keen to speak to anyone who can assist with their enquiries into this assault.

The suspect is described as white, over 6ft tall, between 20 and 25-years-old with a slim build and short fair hair spiked at the front. He was wearing a checked shirt, dark skinny jeans and dark shoes.

It is believed he was with another male who was similar in age, but was shorter and wearing a t-shirt with light-coloured stripes, blue jeans and white trainers.

Detective Constable Graham McIlwraith said: “We are currently still trying to determine the full circumstances surrounding this attack. Given the time at which this incident took place, there were potentially a number of people leaving the various establishments in George Street who may have seen something suspicious.

“Anyone who witnessed the assault or who can help identify the male responsible is asked to contact police immediately.”

Anyone with any information can contact Lothian and Borders Police on 0131 311 3131, or the charity Crimestoppers in confidence and complete anonymity on 0800 555 111.

The news comes as a blow to manager Pat Fenlon who signed Deegan from Coventry City during the summer. Deegan’s tenacious performances in midfield, alongside Paul Cairney and Jorge Claros have seen Hibs climb to the top of the SPL for the first time in over five years.

Rumours of the incident swept social network sites over the weekend, and Leigh Griffiths confirmed on twitter that Deegan was in hospital awaiting an operation, although the tweet was quickly deleted.

It is not known how long the midfielder will be side-lined, and so far the club have not commented.

Hibs Sign James McPake On Two Year Deal

At last, the news that all Hibs fans have been waiting for, James McPake has signed a two year contract with the club, and will be starting pre-season training on Monday at East Mains.

The 28 year old centre half spent four months with the Easter Road club last season, after signing on loan from Coventry City during the January transfer window. He was immediately installed as captain against Rangers at Ibrox, but his day ended with a debatable red card as Hibs eventually lost 4-0.

After returning to the team, McPake recorded 15 appearances, captaining the team in every match, and displaying the leadership qualities which were much lacking in the squad. His performances made him a firm favourite amongst the supporters who have inundated forums demanding that the club pull out all the stops to get him back. His last match was the cup final defeat to Hearts, during which he scored the only Hibs goal and was one of the few players who received pass marks that day.

Rumours that he would attend yesterday’s home strip launch proved incorrect, leaving many fans worried that the proposed move may not take place, but their fears were unfounded as he put pen to paper earlier today.

McPake hails from Bellshill near Glasgow and started his professional career with Livingston, chalking up 100 appearances and scoring six goals. He was made club captain under former Hibs coach Mark Proctor, and the West Lothian club valued him highly, turning down bids from Plymouth Argyle and St Mirren.

In 2009 he moved south to Coventry City where he scored once in 38 starts before a serious back injury which required surgery curtailed his career.

After his successful loan spell with Hibs last season, McPake received an unexpected call up by former  Shamrock Rovers boss Michael O’NeiLl for Northern Ireland’s friendly against the Netherlands. Despite the 6-0 defeat, McPake’s performance at the heart of the defence received positive comments.

Hibs boss Pat Fenlon was delighted with the capture and told Hibs TV: “It’s absolutely fantastic that we’ve been able to bring James back to the club on a permanent basis. We have had to be patient and persistent but all the work has been worthwhile.

“Every team needs a strong leader and James is my captain – he leads by example and sets himself high standards.

“He made a really positive impact during his loan spell and moving forward he will play a major role in the on-going development of the club over the next few seasons.

“At the core of every successful team are strong-minded competitors and James will also help to bring on the younger players in the squad.

“With the arrivals of Tim and now James, we have started to make good progress towards rebuilding the squad and bringing in the right characters.

“There is much more to be done and we will keep working away trying to secure our other targets.”

McPake says he is delighted to be heading back to Easter Road, and shortly after signing, he posted a ‘Welcome to Edinburgh – this is home’ photograph via twitter, delighting his many followers.

McPake said: “It’s an honour to play for Hibs again. From day one, I felt at home at the club and I developed a special relationship with the supporters.

“I’m excited to be part of what will be a new-look Hibernian team and I’m looking forward to playing my part in bringing success back to this football club.”

McPake is Fenlon’s second close season signing following the capture of Irish defender Tim Clancy from Motherwell.

Evolution of a Journeyman

Long after the much heralded Cork City side of the mid noughties had departed for pastures new, one man journeyed from club to club seeking to make the cut abroad.

The Turners Cross faithful had grown accustomed to seen their star players been plucked from their ranks and fast tracked into English football. Few would have predicted the impression that stars such as Kevin Doyle and Shane Long would have had following their move across the Irish Sea. The duo became successful at Reading before heading on to their current clubs and are now regulars in the Irish set up.

Other players to have left Leeside during the good times included John O`Flynn, George O`Callaghan and Roy O`Donovan, all of whom enjoyed little success until now.

O`Flynn is currently plying his trade with Exeter City while O`Callaghan currently lines out in Brunei but it Is O`Donovan who is really coming into his own now.

O`Donovan began his career as a trainee at Coventry City only to be shafted and forced to return home to Ireland like many others who failed to make the cut. Some gave up on their careers while others became ever the more determined to succeed hoping their performances would earn them a second crack at the English game.  After making his debut for his native Cork in 2005, O`Donovan began to catch the eye bagging 31 goals in 74 appearances. His potential was further highlighted during his performances in the Intertoto Cup scoring against Swedish club Hammarby.

Potential interest from Wolves didn’t come to much as the Rebel Army refused the English sides advances. Their ability to hold onto their prize asset eventually crumbled and O`Donovan  moved to Sunderland where he linked up with fellow Cork native Roy Keane, turning down a deal with Fulham in the process. The Black Cats paid Cork €500,000 to lure their hitman to Wearside yet his three year spell at the Stadium of Light never amounted to anything. After only a handful of appearances O`Donovan was sent out on loan lining out for Dundee United, Blackpool, Southend United and Hartlepool amongst others. It was only at Hartlepool where he began to show his potential that earned him his move across the water, bagging 9 goals in 15 games.

His performances for Hartlepool did enough to convince then Coventry manager Aidy Boothroyd to give him a second chance in the Sky Blue jersey. Again O`Donovan went through a goal drought and failed to establish himself as City`s number one striker.

In January of this year Scottish side Hibernian plumped for O`Donovan on loan. Newly installed Hibs manager Pat Fenlon began a recruitment drive in an attempt to keep the Edinburgh club in the top flight. Amongst his signings were ex League of Ireland duo O`Donovan and Eoin Doyle. If there was one manager capable of getting the best out of O`Donovan it would be Fenlon as the former had thwarted the latter during his glory days as manager of Shelbourne.

Little over a month into his career at Easter Road, O`Donovan is already looking like a shrewd acquisition. The Cork native seems to have finally found his perfect home and his performances have endeared himself to the Hibees faithful. He has managed to notch two goals thus far including a contender for goal of the season against Kilmarnock. O`Donovan also got on the scoresheet as Hibs saw off Ayr United in the Scottish Cup last weekend. Hibs have now advanced to a semi final date with Aberdeen as Fenlon looks to bring the elusive trophy back to Leith.

O`Donovan is full of praise for his new manager and is determined to aid Hibs cause insisting       “All I ever wanted to do was play football and Pat Fenlon has given me that chance here at Hibs. I knew Pat from the League of Ireland and playing against his teams so I always had respect for him and he’s been great for me.

“The move here has gone well for me, but it’s not just about me, I want to help Hibs drag themselves out of the position we’re in. We’re four points clear of the bottom team and we have a Cup semi-final to look forward to so it’s all going well.”

While is future is far from secured at Easter Road the former Cork City striker will be hoping his performances can earn him a permanent move to Scotland.

Opportunity Knocks For New Faces

Pat Fenlon was a very busy man in January as he attempts to build a team capable of preventing Hibernian from the dreaded drop. A new air of optimism is wafting around the Hibee world as we managed to secure the services of no fewer than 9, yes 9, players! With 5 players leaving, Hibs were by far the busiest Scottish club this transfer window.

Only Eoin Doyle and  Pa Saikou Kujabi are actual signings, with the other 7 lads being loan deals. But Hibs fans are not going Tonto over this, in fact we are very happy with our Loan Arranger. In Pat we trust.

So practically a brand new team and it breaks down like this…

Matt Doherty- Wolves (Defender)  – loan to June 2012
Roy O’Donovan- Coventry City (Striker) – loan to June 2012
Jorge Claros- Motagua (Midfielder) – loan to January 2013
Pa Saikou Kujabi-Unattached (Defender)  – signed to June 2013
George Francomb- Norwich City (Defender) – loan to June 2012
Tom Soares- Stoke City (Midfielder) – loan to June 2012
James McPake- Coventry City (Defender) – loan to June 2012
Eoin Doyle -Sligo Rovers (Striker) – signed to June 2013
Leigh Griffiths -Wolves (Striker) – loan extension to June 2012

Players that have left the club:

Akpo Sodje
Michael Hart
Junior Agogo
Victor Palsson
Matthew Thornhill
David Crawford

2 players that are getting the Hibee hoardes salivating are Pa Saikou Kujabi and Jorge Claros.

Kujabi is a rampaging left back who is known in his homeland as the ‘Gambian Roberto Carlos’. 25 years old and 10 international caps, he has played in Austria & Germany.

Claros is exciting the Hibs faithful the most though. A target for Rangers who seemingly put in a “laughable” bid for him only to have us to pinch him from under their noses. The Rangers (spit) messageboards went into meltdown when they found out he would be signing for us ‘junkies’, for that is what they call us in the banterous world of Scottish fitba. Yes their humour knows no bounds…

Claros is Honduran and is known there as ‘The Pitbull’. This man has even survived a bullet to his head in a failed robbery attempt. A tough cookie it seems. Just what the Cabbage have been crying out for. He has played 15 times for his country.

After a dismal 4-0 thumping from Rangers last Saturday, there is a new spring in our step with all these signings. Up next is the Scottish Cup clash with Kilmarnock. Could it be possible that this bunch can do what no Hibs team has done since Buffalo Bill was still fighting the Indians, and win that most elusive of prizes?

Who knows? But it sure is gonna be exciting finding out.

Good Work Undone

After getting a great result last week at Dunfermline, typical Hibs go and shoot themselves in the foot by losing to St Johnstone at home in the following match.

The feel good factor has gone already and now it’s back to “Help ma boab! We might get relegated”. Scary times at the Leith San Siro. A crowd of just under 9000 turned up to witness one of the most inept displays of defending I have ever seen in many a long year. And (sadly) I have seen a lot of it when it comes to Hibs.It wasn’t that the St Johnstone forwards were that good (which they were) it really is down to basic, frankly absurd mistakes in our back four that handed the ‘Tractor Boys’ the three points. This cannot go on. Pat Fenlon needs to, no, has to, find us a couple of centre halfs in this window or we are going down. Rumours today that we are getting James McPake on loan from Coventry City. Seems a decent enough player to get in, he knows the Scottish game as he’s played here before. I’m just hoping he’s a bit (to use an Edinburgh term) radge! A fighting, battling, take no prisoners, type of defender.

The club as a whole has been rudderless for years. Starting from the boardroom down. I am not a fan of our so called chiefs who are businessmen rather than football men. Sure, they built us a shiny new stadium and training centre but they took their eye off the ball when it came down to being a football club. And the shiny new stadium will be a massive white elephant if ,god forbid,we end up playing in the First Division.

There are no leaders in the team. Not one player who will impose himself on our own lads, never mind the opposition players. I want shouters and battlers screaming at our team to get their fingers out and realise the situation we are in. Another rumour is we are after midfielder Jim Goodwin from St Mirren. He is exactly the type of player we are needing right now. A 30 year old Irishman who keeps it simple and goes in hard. Getting him may be fruitless as he is quoted as saying he is happy at the Buddies. He is their club captain after all.

Some good news though, Leigh Griffiths scored again and is looking a quality signing for us. But he IS a radge! A homegrown, dyed in the wool, Hibee radge, who shows desire and skill but can get caught up in the hurly-burly of it all. Another hand gesture to the crowd (his third in recent weeks) which will see him sitting in the stands rather than doing what he does best. Scoring the goals to keep us up.

Rangers at Ibrox up next. Let’s hope we do what we did last season and go there and tank them 3-0. That was the craziest result for us last year, as we were woeful leading up to that game too, yet we pulled off our greatest result of another infuriating season.

As Greavsie always said to the Saint “It’s a funny old game” By gum, he was right!.

Williams On Trial At Celtic

Sporting Fingal star Shaun Williams is currently on trial with Scottish giants Celtic, as he seeks to sort out his future.

 The 24 year old had widely impressed scouts from the Glasgow club during the 2010 Airtricity League season and manager Neil Lennon was keen to invite the versatile midfielder over. The Celtic manager is currently running the rule over Williams at Lennoxtown, ahead of the Hoops weekend clash with Hibernian.

 Williams, has also had interest from England, with Coventry City and Crystal Palace both keeping tabs on the 2010 PFAI young player of the year. Shamrock Rovers have also been keeping an eye on his availability. He was due to fly out to Norway with the rest of the PFAI squad this week but the offer of earning a contract with his boyhood club was too good to refuse.

 Should the Portmarnock native earn a deal with the SPL side he will join former League of Ireland stars Paddy McCourt and Niall McGinn at Parkhead. McCourt made the move to Parkhead in 2008 from Derry City while fellow Northern Ireland international McGinn followed suit a year later.