RODDY Collins has “absolutely no problem” in helping groom his new No. 2 into becoming a future manager of Derry City Football Club, despite the fact that the Dubliner had just been appointed to manage the same organisation on Wednesday!
Indeed, without complicating the partnership any further, according to Collins, his wife Carol, actually fancies the new assistant boss of the Brandywell!
So I think it’s fair to assume that Derry City’s longest serving player should experience no problems whatsoever in settling back in as a coach at his favourite stomping ground!
It was certainly different from your normal run of the mill managerial appointmentment, as the ebullient and ultra-confident Dubliner took centre stage as he made his presence felt.
Officially appointed to the Brandywell hotseat in the Derry City Social Club in front of a comfortable attendance, Collins was thrilled to be back leading a fashionable club in the Airtricity Premier Division.
“I’m absolutely delighted with the appointment. It gives me a platform to be able to challenge for trophies again,” claimed the 52-years-old.
And he made it abundantly clear that he didn’t apply for the Brandywell job.
“No, I didn’t apply for this job as I had given respect to my former club, Athlone Town, who will also play in the Premier Division next season,” he answered.
However, to manage a top club was always considered his next move have led the “Midlanders” to promotion.
“You have to look at Sligo, Derry, Shamrock Rovers, you are also looking at Cork, the will all be contenders,” he maintained.
“I don’t want to be in any league just to make up the numbers. Derry have a good crop of young players; a good structure and a good base. But they haven’t won a league since 1997, so there is a massive hunger for success. So it’s perfect for me,” he smiled.
So was he now back managing a big club again?
“Absolutely, big time. There is massive potential at the club and there is a hunger there. That’s the key to it. People want success.
“It’s a full-time set-up and I’ll be moving the whole load up.
“It’s a great opportunity and I have to thank Monaghan and Athlone for having given me the opportunities there. But you were always working at those clubs to better yourself, no disrespect intended.
“And you just can’t get any better than Derry City.”
Did he have any issues with the fact that his assistant manager had been appointed for him by the Brandywell Board of Directors? His answer certainly brought a surprise!
“I actually had asked Peter Hutton to come to Sligo with me if I’d got that job and that well before Derry even came up on the radar,” claimed Collins.
“I have great admiration for Peter. He is a Derry man with 17 years experience at his home town club and he’s a professional who wants to learn the game from a managerial point of view.
“And yes, this appointment is possibly grooming him for that job, but that’s football. I’d have no problem with that.
“I’m happy with Peter. He’s a good lad, a clean liver and he doesn’t mess about. He’s a local and he wants to win and that’s all I want.”
Questioned on the size of the budget he would expect at Derry City, Collins claimed it wasn’t an issue for him given that the nucleus of a top team was already in place.
“Budgets aren’t something that I get too concerned about. You can have all the money in the world, but it still doesn’t mean you are going to challenge for the league title.
“It’s all about the players you get and what you can create that can make the team champions. It’s not money,” he maintained.
“Money will help, of course, and there is no doubt that there is a fairly decent structure and budget at the Brandywell. But it’s not something that would faze me. I’ve brought players to clubs on small money who have achieved.”
Having taken into account the identities of the 11 signed players at his disposal and those currently out of contract, Collins pointed to last season’s squad.
“There is a fantastic group of players there at the minute. That’s a huge part of it. I believe the club has good players in the right areas. You’ve no problem with strike power, plenty of competition in the middle of the park, in short a good group of talented players.
“But we will need one, two or three additions maybe. But it’s not going to be a big massive overhaul. I believe it’s just the menality needs to be changed more than anything and the belief that they can go on and win stuff.
“Obviously I know they won the FAI Cup in 2012 but, no disrespect, league titles are what you’re looking for at any club.”
So given that he felt the boasted a core of quality players, what were his ambitions for the 2014 campaign. Did he harbour hopes of challenging for the Premier Division title?
Ten Match Marker!
“Everybody hopes to challenge at the start of the league campaign. But you have to be realistic as well.
“I would always only say that after 10 games. As I did at Monaghan, Athlone and Bohemians.
“I always reckoned that after 10 games, when you’ve seen everyone, you know what you have, what you need and how to do it. Then you can dictate where you could finish in the league.”
Given that Derry City had experienced a significant downturn in support over the past season, did he envisage having to appeal to “Candy Striped” supporters to return to the Lone Moor Road venue and support their local team?
“I’m not going to appeal to anyone,” he answered.
“At the end of the day, I’m not into that, appealing to fans. Fans will come back when they see a winning team. That’s the marker as far as I’m concerned.
“Fans follow a good brand of football. They follow honesty and success and I wouldn’t ask them to turn up for any other reason.”
Did the fact that Derry had qualified for back-to-back seasons in the Europa League have any bearing on his decision to manage the club.
“Yes, absolutely. I enjoyed my time playing in European football and I enjoyed my time managing in it.
“Playing in Europe is another different experience. It’s a great experience for the players and it’s also a great experience for the supporters.
“That’s something I have enjoyed and will always look forward to, pitting my wits against foreign coaches,” he concluded.