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Edinburgh's Alan Solomons has brought all his wisdom to try and find revival

Michael Sadlier

You couldn't help but wonder if Alan Solomons knew what he was doing when he signed up to be head coach at Edinburgh and this unease wasn't exactly dispelled at the PRO12 launch when the South African made it known that he really hadn't got up to speed yet regarding his new job.

And what a task was awaiting the former Ulster coach. Not just a rebuild, but a mammoth effort was required to restructure and recalibrate pretty much everything to somehow end the mess which the Scottish capital's side had found themselves in just prior to the premature end of Michael Bradley's time at the helm.

Most doubted that 'Solly' would be able make much early impression and when Edinburgh went and lost four of their five opening PRO12 games, it seemed that all the pre-season forecasts were going to be unerringly accurate.

But if anyone had bothered to listen carefully, Solomons (pictured) made it abundantly clear that his task at Edinburgh was for the long haul and was unlikely to see much return in the short-term. The 66-year-old also stated that he would wait two months before passing judgement on where he thought the squad were in relation to their recovery and where they were likely to be heading.

And in the meantime, the new coach busied himself behind the scenes while also getting active in recruitment by bringing in a sizeable number of southern hemisphere players to bolster the squad. And though there were those who quickly argued that his policy was actually going to dilute the need to bring through home-grown talent, the critics were somewhat halted in their tracks when Edinburgh delivered last month's shock Heineken Cup win over Munster.

Their 29-23 victory at Murrayfield clearly brought some renewed belief into Edinburgh's ranks and though they failed to back this up with another stunning result at Perpignan, the fact that the Scots led 7-3 at half-time again showed that there were some signs that a corner may have been turned even though they ultimately lost 31-14 in France.

They even went on to produce their first back-to-back wins since the previous March on returning to PRO12 action though narrow home victories over Treviso and Zebre would hardly suggest that Solomons has completely turned things round just yet.

Indeed, he ripped into his side after their 20-13 result over Treviso before talking more positively about things following the nail-biting 25-23 victory over Zebre three weeks ago, which now sees Edinburgh located at ninth in the table, a considerably higher position than many believed they could ever attain this season.

"We have had the two months and the guys are now au fait with the type of game we want to play," was how Solomons put it.

"They have improved as a team and they are starting to understand and value the way you have to play if you want to win," he added and anyone who played under Solomons at Ravenhill will know only too well that his determination to succeed is not to be underestimated.

Indeed, Edinburgh's defence coach Omar Mouneimne – another recruited by Solomons for this season – perhaps somewhat excitedly suggested that the Scottish side have now got themselves rugby's version of Sir Alex Ferguson such is his will to win and drive to improve everything both on and off the park.

One thing is for sure, though, Edinburgh could do with someone who can alter their ailing fortunes. A start has been made and Solomons has begun to put together a squad which can function without their frontline internationals.

It's all still early days, but a win from Solly's first return to Ravenhill would be another huge step in the recovery process.

Belfast Telegraph


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