SIX games into their return to the Premier Division, and we have learned that there is a lot of work needed if Cork City are going to challenge for league titles anytime soon.
After two defeats in their first two games, City impressively went on to get five points from their next three games, but the result and particularly the performance against Shelbourne was a sobering reminder of just how far off City are from competing with the very elite.
It was never going to be an easy maiden season back in the top flight.
Because of the uncertainty in the takeover, manager Colin Healy was restricted in his player recruitment during the off-season.
Although Dermot Usher’s ownership was approved in December, by then many players would have already had their clubs sorted for the upcoming season, and it’s rare that there is going to be any top player in the leftover pile.
I’m sure his first choice would have been to shop closer to home, but availability and funds would have been an issue.
The length of contracts players are on in Ireland would have also been an issue for Healy.
I spoke to a coaching staff member of Shelbourne after their recent meeting with City, and he admitted that it’s a lot more difficult now than it was in the past to recruit players because they are all tied up on two- or three-year deals.
In previous years, because clubs rarely gave more than a one-year contract to their players, come the end of the season, there were hundreds available to talk to, but now, less players are out of contract, meaning there are fewer options.
Even when clubs do get to negotiate with players, players are looking for more security and demanding lengthy contracts.
I don’t think City are in a position to be offering players long-term contracts.
City will have a vision about when they expect to be realistically competing for the league title.
At the moment, they need players that will give them sustainability in the Premier Division and then progress after that. Those players are the ones that City can offer shorter contracts to, whereas top players will want long-term deals and attractive salaries.
At the moment because they aren’t challenging for major honours, City aren’t as attractive a proposition as they can and will be.
Of course, being from Cork, City are the number one club for me to play for. Howver, non-Cork natives still see City as a work in progress and will want a hefty wage to join a club that isn’t going to be winning major trophies for some time.
Once City are competing at the very top, elite players will be desperate to join, meaning City will be in a stronger negotiating position when it comes to recruiting players.
Healy ended up making several signings off-season, and it’s too early to truly judge those recruits.
From what I have seen so far; Daniel Krezic looks like he could have an impact at the club. He is quick, direct and has attributes to be a very good player.
Ethon Varian is another who has shown in glimpses what he can do. It seems to suit him more playing on the wing rather than as an out-and-out striker.
Kevin Custovic has done ok and we haven’t seen much of Albin Winbo, which isn’t a good sign, but then again, these lads need time to settle, not only into a new club but a completely different culture, having moved country.
Tunde Owolabi is a player with loads of pace but needs coaching on how to use it. He is direct in his play but needs to be more clever in his movement on and off the ball.
Tobi Oluwayemi has had a tough start but is very young and perhaps his enthusiasm got the better of him. The more he relaxes, the better he will get.
Healy knows he will need to improve his squad this summer. He will have targets.
He rightly has given those who got the club to the Premier Division a chance, and will have a better idea of what type of players he needs going forward.