Kenny Shiels insists he’s not satisfied with Derry City finishing third in the League of Ireland and vowed he won’t rest until he brings trophies back to the Brandywell club.
The Candy Stripes have surpassed all expectations in Shiels’ first season at the helm and can rubberstamp a third place finish in the Premier Division with victory over Sligo Rovers at Brandywell tonight. (Kick-off 7.45 p.m.)
Many League of Ireland pundits believe the Foylesiders have over-achieved this season given the club’s limited resources during what was supposed to be a transitional year at the club.
However, Shiels claims City are on the up and won’t be happy until he’s bridged the gap to second placed Cork City who are currently eight points ahead of Derry.
Finishing third in the table will be widely regarded as a remarkable achievement but Shiels said he doesn’t want to have that mindset about the club. And the City boss is fired up for the challenge of taking City back to the top.
“Finishing third would be great but we can’t be happy with that,” he insisted. “We don’t want to have that mindset about the club; that third is an achievement. Third is not an achievement for me! Until we start winning trophies and getting those days back to this great club - that’s when I will be more content.
There’s things that we could feel good about but we still want to win things. I want to win things for this club and I won’t stop until I get something. I want to get closer to these teams.Kenny Shiels
“Third is good but we want to better than good,” he continued. “We can pat ourselves on the back and move on in a positive way.
“But we’ve got to get ourselves into the position where we can win trophies. Financially there’s a top four. There’s Cork, Dundalk, St Pat’s and Shamrock Rovers. They’ve broke away from the rest financially. To finish third would be progress and it would send a message out to the big four, that there’s someone else coming into their territory and that’s us.
“So we have to start further encroaching into the territory of the top four and be in and around first or second.
We’re probably 11 points, it possibly could be 14 between second place and ourselves and we want to get closer to that next season if we can.
“There’s things that we could feel good about but we still want to win things. I want to win things for this club and I won’t stop until I get something. I want to get closer to these teams.”
Derry must plan without Danish defender, Niclas Vemmelund who’s suspended for tonight’s visit of the Bit ‘O Red and Shiels admits it’s another defensive headache he could be doing without.
With Ryan McBride and Aaron Barry both ruled out for the season, Shiels must reshuffle his defensive pack once again as Derry play on the grass pitch at Brandywell for the final time before the artificial surface is eventually introduced.
Sligo, however, have their own troubles with FOUR first team players - Rafa Cretaro, Tobi Adebayo-Rowling, Jimmy Keohane and Liam Martin - suspended for the game. But Shiels believes Vemmlund’s suspension leaves his team ‘very weak’.
“We’re very unfortunate we’ve lost our defenders. They’ve got players suspended. Our defenders are suspended and the last thing we needed was to lose Vemmelund along with Aaron and Ryan, so it leaves us very weak but we can’t be negative. We’re a bit thing on the ground but that’s just the way it is and we have to move on.”
And Shiels is hoping to give the supporters something to celebrate at Brandywell in the final home match of their 2016 Airtricity Premier Division campaign.
“We want to entertain. How you win is important and you have to say we’re the best footballing team in the league. It doesn’t make us the best team. We now have to transfer between being the best footballing team to being the best team.
“That’s the ground we have to make up. We are a braver team and take risks. We’ve enjoyed our journey so far and we want to continue our journey.
“We have to set standards and demands on ourselves and put it into practise. But first we want to finish the season on a high in front of our supporters,” he concluded.