Good afternoon and welcome to our live blog. Barry Landy, live from Oriel Park, where we await Filippo Giovagnoli. The Italian is the new head coach of Dundalk FC, following his shock appointment on Tuesday. He will speak to the press here at Oriel Park at 4pm.
Needless to say, the Italian’s appointment at the reigning SSE Airtricity League champions has been met with a combination of dismay and anger. The supporters, having seen Vinny Perth leave the club on the foot of alleged interference on team selection from the club’s owners, are far from enamoured that Peak6 have chosen to install a complete unknown to a hotseat that was occupied by Republic of Ireland boss Stephen Kenny just 20 months ago.
Perth was sacked last Thursday, after the Lilywhites’ 0-3 reverse to Slovenian side Celje in the UEFA Champions League. That result followed a dismal restart to the league campaign in which the Lilywhites failed to win their opening three games and fell well behind leaders Shamrock Rovers at the summit.
Following his dismissal, John Gill and Alan Reynolds oversaw a 1-3 reverse to Sligo at the Showgrounds at the weekend. Gill left the club on Tuesday.
Speaking to DundalkFC.com on Tuesday, new interim head coach Giovagnoli says that he understands why supporters were “concerned” and “skeptical” about his appointment at the club.
“I didn’t get the job. They called me. It was a surprise. This is my first experience at this level. This is a big challenge. People are sceptical. I’m taking this challenge. I am not afraid,” he said.
When asked whether he appreciated that fans may be concerned at an unknown manager with no top level experience arriving at the club, Giovagnoli said they should be concerned.
“Of course I understand and they should be concerned. They are right but there are so many coaches around the world who are very good but they don’t have the opportunity. I’m so excited and I’m really confident we’re going to do a good job.
Here’s our LouthNow.ie article from Wednesday morning, on Giovagnoli’s first interview with the club’s in-house media channel.
/ Filippo Giovagnoli Factile
- Born in Apecchio, Italy
- Aged 49
- Played professionally in his native Italy, reaching Serie C
- Coached a number of non-league and youth sides in his home country
- Was U19 coach at Serie C outfit AS Gubbio 1910
- Moved to New York in 2014 to take up a position as Director of Coaching at the Metropolitan Oval Academy in New York
- Has also acted as Technical Director of AC Milan’s summer camps at home and abroad
Elsewhere today, Lilywhites’ left back Darragh Leahy has been named in Jim Crawford’s first Republic of Ireland Under 21 squad. Leahy, who was first capped at that level by Stephen Kenny, is one of seven League of Ireland players in the 25-man squad.
“There’s a core of lads here who will never let standards drop and who will give everything so we’ll get behind Filippo and do everything we can to get back to winning ways.”
- John Mountney
- Dundalk FC midfielder
The Italian has already admitted to being surprised by his new role and, according to reports in the Irish Independent, described his appointment as “crazy” and like “a kamikaze mission.”
It is understood Peak6 and chairman Bill Hulsizer were keen to bring in a new manager from a Green List country, someone they could fly in and who could get to work straight away. They have landed on Giovagnoli, for whom the UEFA Europa League – with qualifiers to come next month – seems a considerable step up.
John Mountney is, alongside Chris Shields, Dundalk’s longest serving player. He has played under Perth, Kenny, Darius Kierans and Sean McCaffrey. He spoke to the club’s in-house media earlier on Wednesday.
“The last week has been very different to what we’re accustomed to here,” he said. “We are so used to everything running smoothly and to having success but there’s been a lot going on behind the scenes and we’re at a place now where it might be seen as a transitional phase.
“There’s no doubt we’re in a position we don’t want to be in but at the same time, the club and fans have gone through a lot tougher times and it wasn’t that long ago that this club was on its hands and knees. In 2012 we were out trying to keep the club afloat with fundraisers.
“It’s up to the new lads who have come to in to have the right ideas and it’s up to the players now to do our stuff on the pitch and keep the club where it should be.”
On Friday evening, Perth spoke to RTE Sport, just 24 hours after his sacking. He was a guest on the broadcaster’s coverage of Shamrock Rovers vs Shelbourne and while he was not overly forthcoming about the reasons for his departure, he hinted that things were not as they should be at Oriel Park.
“I don’t think it’s a surprise. It’s certainly not a surprise to me that the decision was made. The club have decided to go in a different direction. We’re comfortable with that. That’s where we’ve ended up.
“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.
“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.
“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 the League of Ireland is better because of what’s happened at Dundalk over the last eight years. We changed Irish football as a group.”
For those who haven’t seen it, here’s the full DundalkFC.com video interview with interim head coach Filippo Giovagnoli.
We’ll be in situ at Oriel Park from 3pm today for the press conference so follow it here on LouthNow.ie and on our social media channels.
No word among the assembled press here on the futures of Alan Reynolds and Shane Keegan. John Gill resigned yesterday.
We’re told there’s no one here from the club hierarchy to speak to the press. The US isn’t on the Green List, of course. It will simply be Filippo and Guiseppe Rossi.
Filippo Giovagnoli has been speaking to the media here. He told LouthNow.ie that he believes the club are in talks with Shane Keegan about staying on as part of his back room staff. Giovagnoli did not know the status of Alan Reynolds.
Giovagnoli is an engaging character. Very confident in his ability and holds court very well.
He spoke to local press first and now he speaks to the national media.
We’ll have quotes from Giovagnoli later on LouthNow.ie.
The general consensus here amongst the media is that Filippo Giovagnoli has made a good debut at Oriel Park. Ultimately, he’ll be judged on his results.
Quick excerpt from the Filippo Giovagnoli press conference earlier. When asked by LouthNow.ie whether or not Dundalk can get back into the title race, he said; “Everything is possible. Nine points is nine points. We have Shamrock Rovers here. If they do well, the title is in their hands. But if they rest a little bit, maybe we can have fun at the end.”
We’ll have a report on LouthNow.ie shortly from the Giovagnoli press conference. Keep it here on LouthNow.ie.
Here’s our report, thanks for following the live blog!