Sports

Rod less than impressed on dugout return

Wednesday, 16 November 2016

DUNGANNON Swifts manager Rodney McAree was back in the dugout on Saturday, though he could be forgiven for wishing he'd taken another week away after watching his side get thumped by Linfield.

Following a hip replacement surgery, Rodney was unable to be pitch-side during last week's draw with Cliftonville, but he was back at the weekend, though walking with the aid of two crutches as he continues his recovery.

And the performance his players served up will have done little to ease his pain.

"I should have maybe stayed away," Rodney joked post match, "but I have to do my job and I'll try to do mine as best as possible."

However, Rodney was deeply unimpressed with the performance of his players, and he accepted blame for his team selection, saying he "left out people who it means something to" in an attempt to keep his squad fresh ahead of a busy week.

"That's probably the most disappointing performance I've had since I've started coaching. I was very disappointed.

"I put a team on the pitch that I felt was going to be competitive in terms of asking questions of Linfield and playing on the front foot but I felt the first goal was the deciding factor in the game because as soon as we conceded it we didn't have enough people on the pitch who had enough about them to try and get us back into it.

"We had no fight on the pitch. I'll hold my hands up for that. I was looking further down the line in terms of what we have coming up, with three matches in one week and I'm trying to use the squad as best as I could and it's a mistake from my point of view, because I left people out who it means something to."

Among those who were on the bench on Saturday were captain Ryan Harpur and Dougie Wilson, with a League Cup quarter final on Wednesday at Carrick and a trip to Ballymena in the league on Saturday on Rodney's mind.

"What I was trying to do was conserve energy of Dougie Wilson and Ryan Harpur because I feel as if three games in one week is a big ask for them.

"I think the players have to go away and assess their own performance and you have to be open and honest. I think if the players go away and be open and honest with themselves, there's quite a few who will realise they haven't done enough for the team."

Things had started fairly positively on Saturday, with the game very even up to the opening goal.

Thereafter, however, it was one way traffic.

"For the first 22, 23 minutes we had done ok," Rodney said.

"I felt as if I was happy, Linfield had created very little, but as soon as the first goal went in we had too many players who just crumbled and went into a hole and couldn't be bothered digging themselves out of it."

And Rodney says a reaction is required this Wednesday at Carrick in the League Cup.

"It's a quarter final of a senior trophy. We have to try to regroup and pick ourselves up and we have to try to go again away to Carrick, which is not going to be easy.

"One thing you have to have when you go away to Carrick is winners in your team and that's up to me to address that and make sure I put the correct 11 on the pitch that's going to go and cause problems.

"We have to respond and do better than what we have done today. It's great our next game isn't a league game, because the league is our bread and butter, so we go into Wednesday night's game with our mind off the league for a night and get a game of football under our belts.

"We always knew the five games were going to be very difficult, starting with Coleraine, then Cliftonville, Linfield, Ballymena and then Crusaders. We were very happy with the two points we had picked up against Coleraine and Cliftonville but today has been a disappointment."

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