You can read Stephen O’Donnell’s programme notes for the League of Ireland game with Derry City at Oriel Park below.
“Despite the recent run of results, there has been a good atmosphere in training over the past couple of days which is important. The natural reaction when you lose three games on the bounce is to feel a little bit flat but, as a group, we were determined not to be like that and train like that so we’re looking forward to the game. Obviously, we’re going into it off the back of a disappointing run, the worst since I’ve been here, but we’re looking forward to the game, we’ve treated it like any other week and we’re really going to attack it.
“When you’re on a run like ours, it does make you look at things and maybe change things. It’s your duty as a coach to look and see what’s the best way to go about things but the principles, no matter what personnel we have, or what way we go about it, will stay the same. In terms of the core values, and what we’re looking for, they all stay the same but there are certain nuances or tweaks and things that you’d obviously be thinking about in relation to team selection and the like.
“Back to basics has been mentioned but we never ever went away from that. We always want to be tight at the back and we always want to create things going forward. No matter what sort of run you’re on, nothing changes in that regard. We always want to do the basics well and the messaging has been the same but the bottom line is we’ve given up some really poor goals over the last couple of weeks and we need to eradicate that from our game. Our decision-making has been off and that’s going to happen because we’re quite inexperienced and we have a new group. There’s been a couple of times when people have been on different pages and it has led to us giving up goals and we know that needs to stop. Against Cork on Monday, we didn’t give up many chances but we need to start testing opposition goalkeepers more. For all the possession and territory we have, we need to start looking more dangerous in the attacking third. That’s basically a numbers thing. We need to get more shots away, more bodies in the box, and more crosses, it’s as simple as that really.
“Monday’s game in Cork was the end of the first series of fixtures and I think everyone, bar Bohemians, have been inconsistent. They’ve been the one team that has been grinding out results and that’s why the league table is so tight. That’s one saving grace, I suppose; everyone is in the same boat. We’ve had a bad week and we’re down to eighth place while a few teams around us have had a couple of wins and they’ve shot up the table. That’s the way the league is and that’s the way I said it would be at the start of the season. We just need to get our house in order and get back on track and start getting positive results.
“Robbie Benson and Patrick Hoban are both available again and I can’t stress enough how important it is to have players of that calibre and experience available again. The one thing we’re probably lacking at the minute is players with experience of the league and experience from a first-team football point of view. The more of those players we get back, the more positive it will be. Paul Doyle’s not far away but we were disappointed to lose Daniel Kelly against Cork with another tweak of his hamstring, similar to what he did in the Derry game at the Brandywell earlier in the season, and Cameron Elliott is still a couple of weeks away with a calf injury. It’s frustrating for Cami, and for the group. We’ve had a full physio room for the last year and it would improve our chances massively if we didn’t have that.
“Looking at Derry, they’re on a similar sort of run to us at the minute but they’re still one of the best teams in the league so it’s going to be a tough game. There’s been very little between us in every game we’ve played and I don’t think it will be any different today. We only played them a few weeks ago at the Brandywell and we’re due to meet them again in a month’s time. I’m not sure about the sense in that and I think we’ll have played each other three times in quick succession before we have even played some other teams twice.
“Finally, I can understand the frustration and the reaction to losing games. That is normal nowadays. Social media is fickle and it can totally change, day by day. It’s just the world we live in it at the minute. There’s no middle ground anymore, it’s just all one way or the other, but we understand that if you’re involved in sport or a public profession, you’re going to be judged and that’s just the way it is. You sign up for that when you get involved. We don’t speak about that with the players. Amongst ourselves, and within the group, we just need to remember what we’re working towards every week. That’s the bottom line. And we do. I’m as positive as I’ve ever been and the players themselves are very positive, so we’re looking forward to the game. Results are the only way to change the frustration we all feel at the minute and we know that a couple of positive results can change the picture massively so let’s hope that starts today.”
Enjoy the game, Stephen O’Donnell