KENNY SHIELS has hit back at claims of ‘uncertainty’ and a lack of professionalism at Derry City Football Club, insisting he’s working around the clock in attempts to build his squad for next season.
The talented Barry McNamee signed for champions, Cork City this week and it’s understood experienced centre half, Aaron Barry is poised to complete his move to Turner’s Cross over the weekend.
However, Shiels took umbrage at McNamee’s parting comments in a recent interview when citing uncertainty at the club as one of his reasons for leaving Brandywell after six years.
Shiels countered those suggestions and claimed he put the ‘highest contract offer’ during his time at City boss on the table during ongoing talks as he attempted to ‘push the boat’ out for a player who gave him ‘fantastic service’.
And while he praised McNamee, who he described as a ‘poet laureate’ this season and a ‘fantastic player’ who ‘showed true commitment’, he was disappointment with his comments about the club, adding that unprofessionalism should not be confused with ‘inconvenience’.
“Barry McNamee has been brilliant to work with and always gave everything for Derry City both on the training ground and in matches,” said Shiels. “I cannot sing his praises highly enough.
“But I take exception to what was written in a local paper this week. Contrary to what was written, I am confident what he meant was that the season was massively affected with, not only the tragic loss of our captain, but also the inconvenience of not having a regular training facility or being moved around three different facilities on a single day.
“This subsequently had an effect on our work,” he explained. “Barry was always willing to “muck in” and showed true commitment to our working days. I first spoke with Barry (about renewing his contract) some three months ago and also around that time to others.
“Players from other clubs were also interjecting with our players and, yes, this is where the “uncertainty” comes in.
“In the season just finished our professionalism may have been inconvenienced by not having a proper home or consistent training venues, offices, meeting rooms etc, however, inconvenience should not be confused for lack of professionalism.
“On the point that we haven’t signed enough players, I feel that there are two reasons for that. One is that players are considering other offers and the other is that the usual predators and agents are telling my players to hold fire until they can get better offers.”
“That, by the way, is not a criticism of the players, it is quite normal,” added Shiels.
“This is not an issue with the big three as there won’t be any other clubs offering much more lucrative temptations to create such uncertainty.
“So, yes, there will be uncertainty with the last few players that have still to re-sign. I am sure this is what Barry meant as he is a great lad and I want our supporters to respect him and be mindful of how much he gave to Derry City. He put his heart and soul into everything he did for the club, that is why I pushed the boat out to make him the highest contract offer in my time at Derry City.
“I would like to thank him publicly for the fantastic service he gave to me in the two years I’ve been here.”
Shiels, who has 13 players already under contract for the 2018 SSE Airtricity League season, yesterday added talented midfielder, Rory Hale to his squad while Rory Patterson re-signed on a one-year deal.
And the Derry boss travels to Europe today in search of new additions as he continues to strengthen his squad for the upcoming campaign.
“We have a lot of boys on existing contracts. We have Ronan Curtis, Conor McDermott, Gerard Doherty, Rory Patterson, Dapo Kayode, Ben Doherty, Eoin Toal, Jamie McIntrye, Darren Cole, Aaron McEneff - we’ve got 12 or 13 players signed. When I came to this club we had two players signed.
“Dean Jarvis and Nathan Boyle have all been spoken to and we’re waiting for them to come back to us. Aaron Barry has been made an improved offer from last year and has also been spoken to.
“I’m going to Europe tomorrow to continue my search for players so we’re continuing to build.”