Dundalk head coach Vinny Perth has hinted he would be open to extending his contract at Oriel Park after insisting the Lilywhites are “the club for me.”
After an impressive debut season stepping into Stephen Kenny’s shoes, the 43-year-old finished the year with four of the five domestic trophies on offer.
While he continues to finalise his squad for next year, it hasn’t been lost on many Dundalk supporters that Perth will be entering 2020 with just 12 months remaining on his deal.
While there are bigger priorities in the short term, Perth told The Argus at Saturday’s Dundalk FC kit launch that there was no other club he would rather be at.
“This is the club for me,” he said.
“The biggest compliment I got out of this year is that we lost two games early in the season and there were questions. Then we lost in the third round of the Europa League and there were questions. That tells me that I’m at the right club.
“I’m not at a club trying to develop itself over the next five or six years. I laugh at some managers when they lose a couple of games saying we’ll get this right but we need 18 months to bed the team in. I’m in a very high pressured job but I wouldn’t change that for the world so I’m not in any rush to do anything different.”
Perth also revealed that he expected to have the same backroom team alongside him heading into the new season.
“It’s a really, really busy time at the moment. For example, people wouldn’t know that a lot of staff are out of contract but a lot of that has sorted itself out ahead of next year.
“We’ve been finalising training times, pre-season schedules and stuff like that. Myself, Ruaidhrí and John have been watching a lot of video and then there has been a huge amount of cluster meetings going on where fellas are doing training sessions in clusters.
“The lads have been back in the gym since Monday in different clusters because we’re spread out over the country so Graham Norton, in particular, has been really busy this week sorting out the new programmes heading towards January.”
Pressed on whether there would be any possible changes to his backroom team, Perth added: “No, I’d expect everything to be as is. Maybe something minor might pop up in terms of that but nothing major. I’ve always said if you’re a league winning team, you need league winning staff and we have that so I don’t envisage any real change.”
Perth also defended the new Umbro gear which the club unveiled last week after the jersey in particular had been subject to intense criticism from a section of fans online.
“First and foremost, the training kit is exceptional,” he said.
“I saw that a couple of months back and I was very happy with it. Opinions are opinions and it’s very easy to be critical. You’re more likely to hear the critical stuff than the stuff from people who like it but I suppose the only thing I’ll say is that if anyone thinks I’d send our team out in anything inferior or would accept anything that’s inferior in any way, shape or form in terms of quality then they don’t know me.
“In terms of designs, they’re subjective but in terms of the quality I’m really happy with what we’ve done and so are the players because they’ve been in the training kit over the last couple of days and they’re really happy with it.”
While accepting that a portion of supporters didn’t like the new jersey, Perth said he hoped results on the field would make it iconic in the way that the black and amber strip from 2016 or the Harp Lager jersey from 1988 had become.
“That would be even iconic to me who at the time wasn’t a Dundalk fan,” he said of the 1988 double-winning jersey.
“It’s true that results can determine how a jersey is viewed over time. I remember we wore yellow, blue, black and yellow over in Hajduk Split and it was an awful combination but it was a very big night for us. I know we didn’t qualify in the end but we beat Hajduk Split away from home so the players always remember that.
“The jerseys become iconic after nights like that but genuinely I think when you see the team out in the kit I think it will look quite well.”
With Dean Jarvis confirming his departure from Oriel Park last week, it is understood that Republic of Ireland U-21 left back Darragh Leahy – currently on the books of Bohemians – has moved to the top of the Lilywhites’ list as a potential replacement to compete with Dane Massey for the left back slot.
Nevertheless, Perth says he stands by his comments of a week earlier in that he doesn’t expect any deals to be completed this side of Christmas.
“No there is no changes to that,” he said when asked about a transfer update.
“We obviously have a lot of discussions going on here, there and everywhere. We’ve a really strong squad at the moment so all we’re doing is putting icing on the cake here. There’s no need to be in a panic or in a rush.
“There’s very little that needs to be done to the squad but at the same time we’re very happy with the business that we’ve done so far in terms of Patching and Sloggett. They give us real youth, energy and hunger and that is what has always driven the team on so there’s a freshness about it already.
“There will be more signings, of that there’s no doubt, but I just don’t see them happening any time soon but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a huge amount of work going on in the background.
“Myself and Mike Treacy are probably talking about seven or eight times a day. We’re not very close to a lot of stuff but we’re a long way down the road with a lot of deals. We don’t need to do too much either so we’re very comfortable about where we are.”
Perth reiterated that there was plenty of things happening behind the scenes at Oriel Park.
“To be fair to Mike, in particular, there’s a lot of work going on even on extending contracts. We’ve a huge amount of work done so it did give me a bit of freedom. I’ve done a bit of press recently so it hasn’t been all flat out but at the same time I haven’t had a chance to get away on any holidays or stuff like that yet but that will come later when everything has settled down.
“It’s just an extremely busy time but I think days like today where you meet supporters are what make it worthwhile. We’ve done a huge amount of that over the last few weeks and a lot of the players are back home now so they’ll be about more.
“Shields and Hoban are doing something next week for Pieta House which they wanted to do and we’ve something coming up with Temple Street as well so this is a time now coming towards Christmas where we can give something back to our supporters and we’re very open to doing that.”
As he reflected on 2019, Perth said Dundalk should be proud of their team and its achievements.
“To win four trophies out of five is special and we were a penalty kick away from the five of them but that little bit of hurt will drive us on next year and you’ll hear that from the players.
“At the same time we’ve had an unbelievable season. We’re champions of Ireland. We need to shout that from Dundalk and let other people hear it. We should say it loud and proud that we’re champions of Ireland. The rest have to come and get us so let’s see can they,” he said.