KENNY SHIELS is cooking up a storm at Brandywell with the announcement of FIVE new signings this week as he attempts to find the right ingredients to ensure Derry City hit top form in 2018.
After losing six of his first team squad during the close season, Shiels has acted swiftly to replace them and the five new signings this week brings his total tally to SEVEN as the City boss gets his team oven-ready for the new campaign.
And Shiels insists the new acquisitions this week are just for starters.
“We’ve lost six and brought in five this week and they’re good players,” enthused the Derry City boss. “We have to make sure we bake the cake with the proper ingredients. We have to make sure we have balance and improve on what we’ve lost which is going to be a big loss.
“We lost six players and it emptied our engine room,” continued Shiels. “They were all in their mid-20s with mortgages coming in and children being born and things which come with that age of a player. And that’s the downside of it because we lost a lot of quality there.”
Barry McNamee, who netted 10 goals last season, will be a major loss to the club but Shiels believes Derry City could have won the league had they kept all the players who have left Brandywell in recent years.
“When I took over two years ago if we had of been able to keep everyone we had I’m sure we would’ve won the league.
“Stephen Dooley, Patrick McEleney, Michael Duffy, Niclas Vemmelund, Conor McCormack - the list goes on and on. And now Barry McNamee, Aaron Barry. I’m sure we would’ve won the league if we kept them. But that’s idle talk because we don’t know that but I’m sure we would’ve given it a good shot.
“The players that have gone are good players and were idols of the fans who loved those players. Nicky Low has gone, Harry Monaghan and McNamee. We’ve left young Aaron McEneff on his own now. We’ve brought in Rory Hale in there and we’re trying to make sure we rebuild in a way in which it has a positive impact.”
Shiels has been working hard behind the scenes since the close of the 2017 campaign and has added former Man United starlet, John Cofie, Ex-Dunfermline attacker, David Hopkirk, Swedish defender, Armin Aganovic, American midfielder, Conor Agnew and League of Ireland stalwart, Gavin Peers to his panel.
We have to make sure we bake the cake with the proper ingredients. We have to make sure we have balance and improve on what we’ve lost which is going to be a big loss.Kenny Shiels
However, he insists he’s not finished yet as he delves back into the transfer market.
“There’s a lot of work that’s gone into getting those players. For every player you try to sign you get six or seven refusals and you have to be very selective and hard working to keep at it and be persistent in what you do.
“And there’s a lot of work to be done! “
Explaining his decision to announce all five new signings at once, Shiels said he wanted to ‘make an impact’ to appease supporters who had concerns about the departures of several key players in recent weeks.
“I wanted to have an impact with our supporters,” he said. “They can see there’s commitment there from the club to get players in. It’s been really hard for me not to tell people who are coming in but there’s other teams chasing those players.
“If some of the other clubs had of known we were after these players, and it’s happened in the past where they’ve come in and taken them. I’m not going to do the spade work for other people!”
So what will the new signings bring to the table?
“(David) Hopkirk has flair and ability and John Cofi lengthens the game. He can form the ideal partnership for Nathan Boyle or Rory Patterson and Ronan Curtis. I’m trying to create competition in every position I can.” ““Conor Agnew is different to what we have. He’s box-to-box and works hard up and down the pitch.
We were way too shallow and too young last year and people needs to know they’re positions aren’t safe in the team.”