FORMER Derry City midfielder, Keith Ward says he has sympathy for Kenny Shiels due to the dramatic turnaround in players at the Brandywell club over the past two years.
The Dubliner, who returned to help end City’s stranglehold over Bohemians with a deserved 2-0 victory on Friday night, reckons the Candy Stripes have paid the price for allowing their best players to leave the club.
Ward was part of Shiels’ 2016 squad which finished third and he pointed out how Friday’s City team is now unrecognisable to the one he was part of.
Only goalkeeper, Gerard Doherty and Aaron McEneff remain from that 2016 panel and Ward believes the loss of players like Niclas Vemmelund, Dean Jarvis, Rory Patterson, Barry McNamee, Conor McCormack and Ronan Curtis has made Shiels’ job an uphill struggle.
“With a lot of new faces coming in it’s probably frustrating for the fans,” said Ward. “It seems like any player who does well here they lose them, so it’s tough.
“When I was here only two years ago, the only players still here that were out on the pitch tonight were Azza (Aaron McEneff) and Gerard (Doherty).
“They’ve lost some top players and it’s hard for Kenny (Shiels). I feel for him because he has lost his best players over the years.”
There’s very little Shiels could’ve done to stop players like Vemmelund, McCormack and Curtis from leaving the club but the huge upheaval in personnel midway through this season has undoubtedlyimpacted results in the league.
Friday night’s limp performance which saw Bohs end a 10 game losing streak to Derry was concerning ahead of the upcoming FAI Cup quarter-final meeting between the teams. However, Ward doesn’t think Friday’s result will have any bearing on the cup tie.
“Obviously we’ve had an awful record against Derry this last few years. It’s been tough playing them every time and losing but we came up here in a good run of form and were confident,” he added. “With Derry in the second half of the season having a lot of new faces, it’s been tough for a team to settle.
“The early goal helped but we were under a bit of pressure in the first half and in the second half but I felt we could go on and get a second one on the counter attack.
“Without having a lot of the ball I think we deserved the win so it’s great to come up here and win. It keeps our form up at the minute,” he said as Bohs made it six wins from seven.
“Playing against Derry is always hard the way Kenny has them playing. You can go a few minutes without the ball and it tires you. When results aren’t going for you it can frustrate the fans but it’s still one of the toughest places to come.
“Obviously we have them in the cup in the next few weeks so it’ll be interesting. It will be a different game. In a game like that and on a night like that, it might come down to who wants it more.”