Derry City chairman Philip O'Doherty says Ruaidhri Higgins is 'best manager in the league'
Mr O’Doherty has been hugely impressed by City boss Ruaidhri Higgins and his shrewd work in the close season transfer market.
The chairman shares the same vision for the club and intends on backing Higgins to get the Candy Stripes back challenging for major honours where he believes they belong.
Having sold his E&I Engineering firm to American based business Vertiv, there were expectations that the self-made billionaire would splash the cash but he claims that hasn’t necessarily been the case.
In fact, Mr O’Doherty insists the club’s budget is by no means the biggest in the league. He claims Derry City’s coffers are perhaps only the third or fourth largest in the League of Ireland Premier Division!
Nevertheless, Higgins has been handed the financial muscle to assemble a competitive squad as Mr O’Doherty opened the war chest to entice Patrick McEleney, Michael Duffy and Will Patching back to the club.
And the Chairman, who trusts Higgins to deliver the best for the club, reckons the City supremo has spent his budget wisely.
“I suppose I’m damned if I do and I’m damned if I don’t,” said the City chairman. “You give him an increased budget and then people say I’m trying to buy the league but if you don’t give him the budget people say I’m not supporting him enough.
“Ruaidhri came to me with a plan and the sort of team he wanted. We worked together on a budget and any players that came up that maybe we didn’t budget for, then we had a discussion about it. I think he’s spent the money very wisely.
“He seems to have done his homework and he gets a lot of information about players before he decides he wants them. I don’t get involved in that part of things at all but from my point of view he seems to know exactly what he wants.
“We certainly don’t have the biggest budget in the league, we’re probably third or fourth.
“We do want to bring in local talent as well but he spends the money wisely. You know if you give him money it’s not going to be squandered.”
The club’s remarkable transformation under Higgins last season has provided fresh optimism ahead of tonight’s big kick-off at Oriel Park and Mr O’Doherty admits the Derry boss exceeded expectations last year by qualifying for Europe and bringing the ‘buzz’ back to Brandywell.
“I think we’ve got the best manager in the league,” said O’Doherty. “Obviously I don’t want to be over-confident but we’re in better shape now than at any time I’ve been the chairman of the football club so I’m certainly looking forward to the season and hopefully we’ll see packed house at the Brandywell.
“I’ve never seen as much debate and discussion. If I’m walking through Sainsburys I used to get stopped for the wrong reasons but now it’s for the right reasons which is positive for me,” he laughed.