IT’s far to early in the new season to study league tables but Kenny Shiels is hoping victory over Galway United at Brandywell tonight will provide a significant mental boost for his players. (Kick-off 7.45 p.m.)
Tommy Dunne’s Galway side have proved the surprise package after the opening three games with wins over St Pat’s, Bray and a draw away to Sligo Rovers.
You’ll have Dundalk, Cork and Rovers occupying the top three or four then you have Pat’s and teams will slip away after a good early start but we don’t want to fall into that category.Kenny Shiels
The ‘Tribesmen’ currently sit in third position, one point ahead of the ‘Candy Stripes’, but a win for Shiels’ troops tonight and the Derry boss will no doubt allow himself a quick glance at the league standings.
More importantly, Shiels is determined to give the home support ‘a performance to be proud of’, though he’s expecting a formidable test from the visitors.
“This match on Friday night is another cup final for us,” he said. “Galway are a team in form. They played two away games against Sligo and St Pat’s. They beat Pat’s and really should have beaten Sligo, by all reports.
“They are a formidable outfit. They have been the surprise package and have started really well. We will try to get about them and we won’t make it easy for them.
“I’ve done my analysis on Galway and they’re a good team. They’ve started the season remarkably well and it won’t be an easy game for us.
“We have to make sure the spirit is good,” he continued.
“I think it’s a bit early to look at league tables. After the first third of matches are played, after 11 games or so, then it starts to format a bit after that. You get a clearer picture of the table.
“You’ll have Dundalk, Cork and Rovers occupying the top three or four then you have Pat’s and teams will slip away after a good early start but we don’t want to fall into that category.
“We want to get into the top six and sustain that position and take it from there.
“We want the Derry supporters to go away if we don’t get the result and say, okay, at least the boys gave their all for the club and we can’t ask for much more than that.
“That’s the mindset I want the fans to have leaving the Brandywell after every home game. If we lose then the other team beat us because they were better not because they worked harder. I want the supporters to be proud of us and be proud to be part of us. If I can get that, then I’m doing my job.
“We want the supporters to be proud of what they see. We’ll not win every game but we’ll give everything we have and that’s all we can do.
“If we don’t achieve then that’s because we’re not good enough - it’s not because we didn’t try.”
Of course, Galway are not the only team to have started impressively. An opening day defeat to north west rivals Finn Harps left many scratching their heads but two hugely encouraging performances since and the picture is very different at Brandywell Stadium.
Monday’s emphatic 3-0 win at Bray built on last week’s hard-working 1-0 victory over Cork but even Shiels is not getting carried away just yet.
“Bray was a workmanlike performance,” added the Derry manager. “When you take into consideration the pitch, the size and dimension of it. It’s a small arena.
“It governed the way we played. Our football wasn’t anywhere near as fluid as I wanted it to be. That’s going to take time. We need to add better possession but the game was dictated by the size of the pitch and the way the opponents played. It was hardly on the floor.
“We did a bit better in the second half, scored three and had two good goals disallowed, so it tells us that we had some good attacking patterns. We were quite dominant. I’ve worked really hard on the spirit of the team and the chemistry and it’s a recipe we want to sustain over a long peroid of time. Rory (Patterson) and Barry (McNamee) are major contributors to how we play and we have to keep working on that.
“This week, I’m very hopeful we have another good crowd. I want the supporters to know we appreciate them and the fact they can act as that ‘12th man’.”