DERRY CITY Chairman, Philip O’Doherty admits the Brandywell club have taken a gamble by sacking Peter Hutton with just six games remaining to save themselves from a catastrophic drop to the First Division.
Mr O’Doherty also suggested there was an argument to replace Hutton during the midseason break following an eight game winless run in the league which was considered by the Board back in June.
Instead the club offered Hutton a stay of execution until Tuesday this week when he was removed from his position after 16 months in the job - the club languishing three points above the bottom spot.
The Chairman spoke frankly and conceded the timing of Hutton’s sacking was poorly managed.
“To be honest I can see that point,” said Mr O’Doherty. “I can sympathise with what the fans are saying about the timing of the decision.
“All I can say is that the Board were considering doing it earlier in the season but based on a very balanced decision we decided to give him a bit more time.
The decision was purely down to results because I certainly have a lot of time for Peter - I really like the guy.Philip O’Doherty
“We then had a spate of sendings off and I think that really hurt us very badly over the last five or six games.
“However, there is an argument we should have done it much earlier.”
Mr O’Doherty publicly gave Hutton his backing and offered him a cash injection during the July Transfer Window in the hope that he could steer the club out of the relegation zone.
And he was ‘disappointed’ with the impact of some of Hutton’s signings and the failure to replace the goalscoring feats of both Rory Patterson and Michael Duffy.
“Some of the signings just didn’t work out,” added the Chairman. “Anthony Elding didn’t work out. Mark Quigley who came isn’t fully fit and hasn’t really featured yet.
“And a few other players he brought in just didn’t work out. I think there’s a few players who came in that are starting to show promise that are here on loan. But players like Elding - if he had of scored maybe even 10 goals we wouldn’t be where we are now.
“We needed to replace Rory Patterson in particular. And the failure to replace Patterson with someone similar is the main reason why we are where we are.”
Hutton’s troops only managed 10 points from an available 30 in his final 10 games after the midseason break. And the ‘final straw’ was the ‘surrender’ against Drogheda United at Brandywell in the limp 0-2 reversal on September 5th which finally made O’Doherty lose patience and step in to take action after the FAI Cup quarter-final replay loss to Cork.
“The Drogheda defeat was what decided it for me,” he confirmed. “We had a cup match so soon after that so we let it go. But my mind was made up after that surrender at home to Drogheda. It was the most important game of the season. If we had of won that we were pretty safe but we were humiliated that day I felt.
“The decision was purely down to results because I certainly have a lot of time for Peter - I really like the guy,” insisted O’Doherty.
“I think we had a dilemma. Did we let it go until the end of the season or try and bring someone in who might get a reaction?
“When clubs bring managers in they get a reaction and by and large, that’s what we need. If we can get anything at all from these next two games then I think we will stay up. If we don’t I think we’ll certainly be in a play-off situation.”
It would be a catastrophe if Derry went down in terms of income and keeping key players on board for next season’s campaign but O’Doherty has faith in caretaker manager, Hegarty to make the smooth transition from a proven No. 2 at Derry City to ensuring the club remain in the division under his leadership.
“All we’re thinking about now is trying to get a reaction from the players with a new manager coming in. We face six cup finals to keep the club in the Premier Division. We made the decision based on the confidence we have in Paul Hegarty to do the job. I think we will get a reaction from the players.”