Dundalk boss Filippo Giovagnoli hit back at his predecessor Vinny Perth by insisting his side have not travelled to Vienna to be tourists ahead of their Europa League match against Rapid Wien at the Allianz Stadion tonight (kick-off 5.55pm).
The Italian was responding to comments from the man he succeeded at Oriel Park in August on this week’s RTÉ Soccer Podcast in which Perth criticised his former side for not playing to win against Arsenal at the Emirates last week.
Perth, who was sacked by the Co Louth club after his side’s 3-0 Champions League defeat against NK Celje, told Adrian Eames that he “felt Dundalk didn’t have a go” against the Gunners and were almost there as “tourists”.
He added: “I don’t think it reflects well that the highlight of the night was that they were only beaten 3-0. For me that might be deemed as criticism but I was disappointed that Duffy, McEleney, Colovic, Hoban – the really attacking, flair players – didn’t get a chance to express themselves on a stage that they belong at in my opinion. That was a bit disappointing.”
Asked about those comments before the meeting with a Rapid Wien side who have also lost their opening two matches in Group B, Giovagnoli said: “I don’t follow these kind of things. I don’t know what he said and I’m not interested. I’m not a tourist. I’m always prepared. We prepare really well with the staff.
“If he said that shame to him.”
Giovagnoli insisted that the only time his side failed to perform was in their 1-1 league draw away to St Patrick’s Athletic on Sunday.
“We are prepared to perform the best that we can and I think we’re going to perform.
“We performed in the game against Molde. We made mistakes but we performed against Arsenal. The only time that we didn’t perform this year was against St Pat’s. The other times we have always performed, at least in a few aspects.
“Maybe we made some mistakes but we always perform and we always play the game we prepare. The result is sometimes the consequence of the performance and sometimes it is not but this is soccer.
“The performances were good in many aspects. We had many good things but the only regret is to prepare for these games we need time. We didn’t have time.
“When you are an underdog you need more time to prepare for these games and compete at this level and unfortunately we did not have time because we also have the league, which is important for us.”
The 49-year-old said he expected a tough test against a Rapid side who are undefeated in their opening six league games to date.
“This is a really strong team. I don’t see weakness. They have really talented players, physical players, they play a good style of soccer, a European style.
“They are not afraid to play, they move up well, they are really aggressive. Like I said before, they are favourites. After Arsenal, for me, Rapid are the favourites in the group. Don’t forget they were winning 1-0 win against Arsenal here in Vienna.
“They are a strong team and we are going to need to perform to a really high level if we’re going to challenge them.”
Dundalk will be without Patrick McEleney, who limped out of the Arsenal game with a groin problem but expect to have Sean Murray back from a similar injury also sustained against the Gunners.
He admitted McEleney would be a loss.
“A player like McEleney with his quality is always important to have in the team but we’ll have a good line-up and we’ll be okay.”