These are testing days for Galway United Football Club, and the search for a new manager is expected to linger until the New Year.
It is already believed more than 20 people, including seven with Premier League experience in Ireland, have applied for the vacant position, but the grim reality is that United will be operating on a restricted budget next season.
Even in 2009 there were significant financial issues, and though aided by Derry City’s problems, the fact that Galway remained in the top flight was an achievement.
It is common knowledge that rows had occurred between Foster and a number of key players, but that goes with the territory in a dressing room. Despite the commotion Galway, who usually sought to pass the ball, still eked out enough positive results to accumulate 42 points which was a tribute to both the coaching staff and squad.
Whoever succeeds Foster will have to construct a panel with meagre resources, and a relegation battle is imminent.
United have been keen to release into the public domain that there is interest in the Terryland Park job, but a locally-based appointment remains the probable solution. Tom French, who worked with the club under Tony Cousins and Foster, has signalled his intentions, while former boss Paul ‘Ski’ McGee is also eager to make a return to senior football. Others who warrant consideration include Billy Clery and Tony Mannion.
It has nearly gone unnoticed by the sporting public the role Clery had in developing so many of the footballers who served Galway in the past two campaigns. In his previous role as u- 21 manager with Gareth Gorman and Mark Cobey, Clery was organised enough to shape a tidy team. Seamus Conneely, Cian McBrien, Paul Synott, Jason Molloy, and Jonathan Keane all featured at underage level for Clery, who occupied a crucial role in their careers.
Considering that Galway are being forced to go down a similar route now, Clery’s knowledge of the local game needs to be tapped into in some capacity.
Mannion’s passion for Galway United is unquestionable too, and his three stints in charge brought plenty of highs. Finishing second and third in the league in the 1985/86 and 1993/94 seasons proved that Mannion was able to draw determined performances from his players. Even when winning the first division in 1992/93, Mannion was adept at creating an outfit with the most accomplished talent available.
A crucial decision must be taken by United early in the New Year. Survival is the name of the game in 2010, and fostering the tentative links with the Galway & District League is precisely what the next figurehead of Galway United will be charged with doing.