DERRY CITY: Rory Patterson appointed first team player/coach at City

Derry City manager Kenny Shiels with Rory Patterson, who will take up a player/coach role for the 2018 season.
Derry City manager Kenny Shiels with Rory Patterson, who will take up a player/coach role for the 2018 season.

EXPERIENCED striker, Rory Patterson believes his recent appointment as Derry City first team coach won’t affect his performances on the pitch next season!

Kenny Shiels claims the striker has the ‘potential to be a top coach in the game’ and welcomed him into his coaching staff in a player/coach capacity ahead of the 2018 Airtricity Premier Division campaign.

I like having a bit of responsibility and I know playing and coaching are two completely different roles, so I have to be able to keep them separate

Rory Patterson

And as he begins his coaching apprenticeship under the stewardship of the City boss and his assistant, Hugh Harkin, Patterson believes he can marry the two roles with ease.

“As soon as Kenny mentioned the idea to me, the first thing he said was that he’s putting no pressure on me to do it,” explained the ex-N. Ireland international.

“I think I respond better to that. I like having a bit of responsibility and I know playing and coaching are two completely different roles, so I have to be able to keep them separate.”

Although the 33-year-old has no intention of retiring any time soon, and has targeted a successful campaign in 2018, he has naturally allowed his thoughts to turn towards a post-playing career, particularly after a frustrating season hampered by injury.

Any move to give coaching duties to an active squad member would come as a surprise but for Patterson, upgrading from on-field mentor is a natural progression and he’s thriving off his new-found responsibility, both on and off the pitch.

“In my opinion, I don’t think I’m ready to be finishing playing football. I know my body and while it was a frustrating year last year, it could’ve happened to anybody as the goalkeeper slid out and hit me the way he did,” said Patterson, recalling the moment he fractured his ankle in the opening day of the 2017 season at Dalymount Park.

“It’s not like my body keeps breaking down or anything. The bone was fixed and there was damage around the area which all had to settle down. There were times last year when I was thinking, ‘I can’t do this, it’s too sore’. But it was probably the thran side of me, I never ever contemplated packing it in. Over the last two months the pain stopped and I don’t think it was a coincidence that’s when I started playing well and scoring as I felt back to myself again. I’m used to playing with bumps and bruises but this one was a lot more serious than that.

“I feel great and have enjoyed a good rest from the end of the season so I’m chomping at the bit to start all my pre-season work again this week.”

Derry City will assist the Strabane man with the completion of his coaching badges next year and Patterson is confident he can pick the brains of both Shiels and Harkin, while he himself has more than enough experience in the game to call upon.

He enjoyed a coaching role during his time in Australia in 2015 and worked alongside former Aussie international, Scott Miller who is a former technical coach at Fulham. And he feels he has the right qualities - the winning mentality and competitive nature - which could rub off on his younger teammates.

“I want to become as qualified as I can and get as high up the ladder as I can get. There’s help there for me and I have Kenny there to support as well as Hugh Harkin and I’ve met enough people through the years playing football so I’ve got plenty of help if I need it.

“Kenny has been in the game a long time and has a lot of experience. I’m probably his first player he’s taken through as a coach as well and I think he’s looking forward to helping me.

“And Hugh Harkin, who is one of the nicest men I’ve probably met in football, I know he’ll be at the other end of the phone and I think Hugh is looking forward to taking on that role as well.”