WITH relegation confirmed, Cork City must now begin to plan for the future and how to get back into the Premier Division as quickly as possible.
Everyone associated with the club will be bitterly disappointed with how the season has played out, but they can have no complaints that the club deserved to be relegated.
Yes, City were unlucky and didn’t get the rub of the green in some matches but the simple truth is they were the worse team in the division.
I don’t agree with anyone who believes that sometimes it’s the best thing for a club to be relegated because it allows the team to rebuild.
Why can’t the club rebuild in the Premier Division?
Every club wants to be in the top division whether they need to make drastic changes or not.
Whether City had been relegated or not, there was a need for an overhaul.
Obviously, they would have liked to have done that in the top tier, but instead will have to rebuild in the first division.
Relegation before the final game of the season does have some benefit for City.
Towards the end of the season, all clubs will be preparing for the following campaign — discussing their budget, their targets, and what players they will need to bring to the club to achieve those goals.
The Rebel Army would have been uncertain what division to plan for, but now can fully focus on preparing for life in the first division.
The first issue the club will have to address is who will manage the team?
Let’s assume here that the current board would have the choice to make. If Trevor Hemmings buys the club, then all bets are off as he may want to appoint his own man.
At the moment, Colin Healy is the man in the dugout and would be many people’s favourite to get the job. As well as having played for the club, the Ballincollig native has worked as the U19s manager for a number of years and would be well aware of the up-and-coming talented youngsters at the club.
Performances have certainly improved under Healy but, unfortunately, results haven’t.
The former Republic of Ireland international should have the respect of whatever players are at the club next season considering his impressive playing career.
However, his lack of managerial experience might go against him, and there is also the question of would Healy actually want the job or the media attention that comes with it?
I know that the former Celtic player loves working with the underage system at City. And I’ve seen first-hand the amount of effort and time he puts into the academy.
It’s one thing taking the first team for a few weeks knowing that you can always go back to the U19s. It’s another thing taking the senior job on a full-time basis knowing that if you fail you might not work with the club again.
Stuart Ashton is another name being mentioned for the position.
Ashton has done an excellent job with Cobh Ramblers and knows exactly what the first division is about.
Ashton had success during his time in temporary charge of City and again is a person that knows the club very well having spent a number of years working with City’s underage teams.
Ashton is contracted with Ramblers until the end of next season, and I cannot imagine the club would want to release him from it.
However, we know contracts don’t mean much in football.
City are a bigger club than Ramblers and would be able to attract better players, and Ashton might force a move if he were offered the job.
The man I would give the job to is Alan Reynolds.
The Republic of Ireland U21 assistant would be available after leaving his role with Dundalk and has already experienced success with Waterford in the first division, winning the league in 2017. Reynolds also has a proven track record with bringing successful players from overseas.
I recently worked under Reynolds and believe he is exactly the type of manager the club needs. He would lift the mood of the whole club: His man-management is excellent, and he knows the league.
From speaking to him in the past, Reynolds knows just how big a club City are, and the potential of the club. He’s been overlooked in the past but Reynolds would be my choice.
It remains to be seen what players will remain at the club but City wouldn’t have a problem attracting players considering the size of the club.
City are more than capable of bouncing back at the first time of asking — but it’s crucial that they make the right managerial appointment.