Vinny Perth says his sacking as Dundalk FC manager on Thursday night was expected and that the decision to remove him from his role at Oriel Park was not down solely to the club’s failure to progress in the UEFA Champions League.
Perth was notified of the decision at approximately 7.15pm on Thursday evening and the club officially confirmed his departure four hours later. His assistants John Gill and Alan Reynolds have been placed in temporary charge.
“I don’t think it’s a surprise. It’s certainly not a surprise to me that the decision was made,” Perth told Tony O’Donohue on the RTE Six One News on Friday evening. “The club have decided to go in a different direction. We’re comfortable with that. That’s where we’ve ended up.”
Dundalk lost 0-3 to Slovenian side NK Celje on Wednesday evening, ending their Champions League hopes for another season. While the club, will drop down into the Europa League qualifiers, the loss proved the final match under Perth’s stewardship. He had taken off from Stephen Kenny in December 2018, having acted as his assistant for five years.
In his first year in charge, Perth guided the club to the SSE Airtricity League title and the EA Sports Cup while the Lilywhites lost the FAI Cup Final on penalties to Shamrock Rovers. This season however, Dundalk fell eight points behind Shamrock Rovers in the league title race, with just eight games played and 10 left to play.
Since the restart, Dundalk have lost one and drawn two of their three games to seemingly fall too far behind to catch an in-form Shamrock Rovers in the title race.
“People will say ultimately the decision is down to losing in the Champions League. It’s not. It’s a bigger decision than that. That’s fine. What Dundalk have achieved in the last eight years is incredible. Yes, we were a penalty kick away from complete dominance eight games ago. That’s all. From that point of view, it’s disappointing. But the club have been phenomenal and I’m very proud of my association with the club.”
Speaking to Peter Collins on Friday Night Soccer later in the evening, Perth said that his dismissal was inevitable.
“It was inevitable. It wasn’t a real shock,” he said. “I had a brief discussion with the chairman last night. It’s been a difficult time for the club on and off the pitch for a number of months. There’s been things in the background that haven’t been good enough. Ultimately, we haven’t been good enough on the pitch.
“There’s no doubt there was a difference of opinion [with the owners] on where we are and where we need to move forward. We have a difference of opinion. I have to respect that.”
Perth refuted repeated suggestions that there were tensions between he and assistant John Gill, saying they were “very strong” but reiterated he did not believe Wednesday night’s team selection or result was the reason behind his sacking. Reports today have suggested the club’s owners – the Peak6 group – had offered Perth input into the team selection for the game.
“People will throw mud and if they throw enough of it, it will stick. There’s no doubt there was a difference opinion with the club. On Wednesday night, I went out with a very clear mind what I thought the right team was in the Champions League. I don’t think ultimately that’s why I lost the job.
“What we’ve achieved is immense. Ultimately, I think LOI is better because of what’s happened at Dundalk over the last eight years. We changed Irish football as a group.”