Ruaidhri Higgins relishing being back on the training pitch as Derry City prepares for Bohs test
RUAIDHRI HIGGINS has been relishing every minute of his first full week back on the Brandywell pitch and has been impressed with how quickly his players have adapted to his demands ahead of a difficult trip to Bohemians.
The new City boss enjoyed the best possible start to his managerial reign with a morale-boosting 1-0 away win at previously unbeaten Sligo Rovers but he’s under no illusions as he prepares to take on one of his former teams who, he believes, occupy a ‘false position’ in the table.
Having watched Keith Long’s men in the 2-1 loss to Shamrock Rovers at Tallaght last Saturday night, Higgins has warned his team must raise the bar against the Gypsies who are currently just two points ahead of the Brandywell club in sixth.
However, having got to know his players a lot better this week, he’s in no doubt Derry has what it takes to get another win on the road tonight - a win which would take them above the Dubliners.
"I’ve really enjoyed it,” he beamed. “The players and staff have been brilliant to deal with and long may that continue. They are a brilliant group of lads, I couldn’t say a bad word about any of them. They’ve been very receptive and taken on board what’s been asked of them. They’ve given me absolutely everything so far. We’ve now got to Bohemians and try to win the game.
“For me Bohemians are in a false position. I wouldn’t look too much into the results recently but if you analyse the Shamrock Rovers game and look at it closely, that game could’ve gone either way. Their performance was brilliant and we need to be well prepared and we will be. But, if they play at that level again, then we need to play at a really high level to win the game.
"They have a lot of running power going forward and we will try and set up to nullify that but we also have a plan to go and hurt them at the top end of the pitch. We look forward to the game. They’re a good side and I feel we’re a good side and we’re going to get better so it’s a good match up.”
The Co. Derry man has played a spectator’s role in his previous job as Chief Scout and Opposition Analyst with the Ireland international set-up. He left his role as assistant manager at Dundalk last May and so he was delighted to get his boots back on and take a hands-on approach with the players this week.
“I’ve absolutely loved it. I’m a bit hoarse because I haven’t shouted properly for about a year now. I’ve been demanding a lot of the players in a short space of time but they’re well able and we look forward to going to Bohemians tomorrow night.”
Confidence is high after that superb win at the Showgrounds but Higgins knows his team must get better, particularly in the final third. Having said that, the ex-City midfielder believes his team has what it takes to ‘hurt’ the Dubliners.
“It was a huge result. Sligo were on a high and scoring goals. I thought the discipline and application of our players was of a really high standard and we’ll expect more of the same tomorrow night but hopefully with a bit more creativity at the top end of the pitch.
“We have players who are more than capable of making things happen up there. We’ve been working away and we do have players who can hurt teams at the top end of the pitch and I’d like to think over the coming weeks we will see that.”
The games continue to come thick and fast for the Candy Stripes with the North West derby at Brandywell next Monday but Higgins’ focus is firmly on tonight’s trip to Dalymount.
“As soon as the final whistle goes on Friday night we’ll start thinking about Finn Harps.”
Higgins has much the same panel to work with for tonight’s match but left back Ciaran Coll is doubtful.
“Ciaran Coll is 50/50. We’ll see how that goes over the next 24 hours. Darren Cole had an injection on Tuesday so he will miss out but it won’t be too long until he’s back.”