• Sport

‘The Europa League is not enough now?’ / Giovagnoli takes aim over future doubts

Dundalk manager Filippo Giovagnoli
Dundalk manager Filippo Giovagnoli at the Aviva Stadium last week. Photo Credit: ©INPHO/Tommy Dickson.

Interim Head Coach Filippo Giovagnoli says Dundalk’s final league position will have no bearing on his future at Oriel Park.

The reigning champions sit a lowly sixth in the Premier Division after Sunday’s scoreless draw with Finn Harps.

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With six games to go, they are two points off Waterford, who occupy the final Europa League qualification spot, but Dundalk do have two games in hand. The Lilywhites travel to Richmond Park to take on a familiar face in Stephen O’Donnell, the club’s former skipper, on Friday.

The Italian said last week he expects to be in charge at the club next season, after guiding the Lilywhites to the group stages of European competition, where they will face Arsenal, Rapid Wien and Molde.

Chairman Bill Hulszier is understood to be keen to offer Giovagnoli a new contract after his Euro success, but Dundalk are far from certain of qualification for next year’s competition.

They face trips to the Branywell and the RSC in the next few weeks, while the visit of second placed Bohs is also on the horizon.

When asked if his future may come into question if Dundalk do not finish in the top three this season, the interim Head Coach said, “That’s really funny. The Europa League is not enough now? It’s not like that. How can you think like that?

“If you think like that about this club, it is not going to have a future. You have to build a structure.”

He said the media liked to “build and destroy” but refuted suggestions such a short term view could prematurely end his spell in Ireland.

“No, it doesn’t work like that. You build. Many clubs would love to be in our position. I hope we don’t forget what we did Thursday tonight.”

Dundalk have won just once in seven league games, a 3-2 win over Shels in the new boss’ first league game in charge. They travel to Inchicore to face on Friday, in the first of four league games in ten days.

Giovagnoli added; “If I win I have a contract, if I don’t – maybe not. We have always to win here. It is never enough. I learn that. It is a challenge we accept. I am even more motivated now.”

He made ten changes against Harps after the heroics against the Faroese side 72 hours earlier and admitted that may have contributed to his team’s failure to take three points against Ollie Horgan’s side, who are second from bottom.

“When you change, change, change – you can lose a little bit of balance. We work so hard to have these kind of problems, to have a busy October. Thank God we have a busy October. Now, we have to find the balance to be competitive in all the competitions.

“If we win, you are asking me only about last Thursday. We are talking only about Arsenal or Rapid Vienna. This is football. We spoke with the players. We will need to be really good and focused in every game, rotate well the players and try and be competitive. It is going to be really complicated.

“We have to still win the rest of the games and in the end what is important is that we get the position to play in Europe next year. It is good that we have a busy October so maybe that means we did something good.

Giovagnoli hinted that tentative contract talks had begun but said with games coming thick and fast before the European campaign starts in earnest against Molde on October 22, there wasn’t much time to focus on the details surrounding his future.

“My contract is secondary. We are in the middle of another competition – the focus was there. The focus was on the Europa League, completely. Let’s be honest, it was the reality. This is what is the situation. We have to accept it.

“We will need the help of everyone. We have enough players of quality that we can compete in every competition. We have to trust them. I am going to help them. Are we going to go up together or go down together?”

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