Marc Birchim 'baffled' by FAI and 'disgraceful' decision not to show red to Derry City's Eoin Toal
WATERFORD BOSS Marc Birchim was 'baffled' at the FAI's decision to schedule fixtures just 24 hours after the opening of the summer transfer window as his team were forced to travel to Derry without three of their new signings.
The former QPR skipper claimed he only discovered that all of his new additions were cleared to play against his 'bogey team' Derry just an hour before getting on the team bus to head to Foyleside.
Max Hutchinson, son of former Scottish international and West Ham legend Don, and 21 year-old French attacker Isaac Tshipamba were the only two new signings in the Blues team and both started the 2-0 loss to the Candy Stripes.
Birchim had lost both Preston's Adam O'Reilly and Bolton's Jamie Mascoll who returned to their parent clubs following the end of their loan deals two days before their long trip to Brandywell.
While Waterford named just one less player than Derry in their matchday squad, the Englishman was clearly annoyed at receiving clearance for his new signings at the final hour and claimed it was 'mind-boggling' that their registration took so long.
And he was keen to point out it was the second time his team have been, in his opinion, disadvantaged against Derry having played Ruaidhri Higgins' men in his first game in charge of the Blues shortly after finishing a 14 days quarantine following a Covid outbreak.
"I think they're our bogey club because they play us at the worst time every time," said Birchim. "One was my first game and all the lads were in quarantine for 14 days, I had 13 players and we played them and lost 1-0.
"It was exactly the same today because I'm baffled with how the League of Ireland can have a transfer window and then a game the next day. Were waiting for seven players to see if they could get through and play and we literally knew an hour before we had to leave for the game that they could play.
"Yes, it's part of the League of Ireland, it's part of us because we've had players on contracts for half the season. They went back and we got to try and get players before the deadline. We have other players who were just signed until June 30th that I just knew about two days ago so we lost them. And we were literally coming up here with just 13 players.
"This game probably came a couple of days too early for us. I find it mind-blowing that we can have a transfer window and then a game literally the next day. It would've been sensible for the League of Ireland to say, 'right, transfer window finishes and you can play on Sunday' - that's fair on every team, every team can get their players through and they can play."
Derry were good value for their 1-0 lead at the interval but they hit the front thanks to teenager Evan McLaughlin's fortuitous strike three minutes before the break. Birchim described the breakthrough as a 'comedy goal'.
"I've just got to get lads used to the gameplan. The game plan was to get in at 0-0 at half time which I thought they didn't really have any chances first half. We had worked on what we could do and on staying in shape. We run off shape and let the ball go in and it was a comedy goal - the first goal. It was a bit similar to last week when we played St Pats. It's a comedy goal. It's in our box, ricochet, ricochet. I think it takes about three deflections and then goes in. But it can't be bad luck if it keeps happening to you."
Joe Thomson gave Derry a two goal cushion eight minutes into the second half with a well taken strike and it looked a long way back for Birchim's troops. Cian Kavanagh made an impact off the bench as Waterford chased the game and the striker was hauled down by Derry skipper Eoin Toal on 85 minutes as he ran clean through on goal. Birchim felt it was a 'disgraceful decision not to send the defender off as match referee Paul McLaughlin flashed a yellow card.
"I know we're losing 2-0 but how the ref hasn't sent their player off is a disgraceful decision and it was a disgraceful reason he gave me. He said the player didn't have the ball under control but how can you have the ball under control if you've got an arm around your neck and are getting pulled down? I think he just didn't want to send him off so he's come up with that excuse. Mind-blowing again, mind-blowing."
Waterford face a huge game against Finn Harps back up in the north west again next weekend and Birchim insists he will be demanding more from his players.
"I've got to keep pushing on and demanding stuff from them because again, we were a bit naive. We're trying to stay on our feet all the time like they should do. Their players, they're getting touched and they're going down winning free-kicks. We're trying to stand up. We're going through one-on-one two or three times and haven't got shots away. It's just naivety at its highest. Again we've got to change it. Either the players change it or we change the players," warned the Blues boss.