Dundalk interim head coach Filippo Giovagnoli said he wants to be known as the facilitator going forward.
Top of his agenda right now is facilitating Europa League group stage football for Dundalk – something that victory over Faroese side KÍ Klaksvik in the Aviva Stadium on Thursday night (kick-off 7.30pm, live on RTÉ Two) can achieve.
“We want to get through and make history for the club,” the Italian told The Argus after Sunday’s defeat to Shamrock Rovers.
“We’ll prepare well like we did for the other game. This was the only game we didn’t prepare well for.
“We will respect them but we’re not afraid of anybody. We were not afraid of Sheriff and they’re a super team with 20 or 25 international players.”
Asked what it would mean to him to reach the group stages, Giovagnoli said: “The focus is not on me. We have something bigger than individual interests. We have the interest of the town and the club.
“I’m defining myself as a facilitator now. I want to facilitate the success of this team and these players. They are doing really well and I’m really proud of them.
“We’ve started to study them and they’re a good team. They’re in shape and had a really good game in their last game so we will need to perform at our best if we want to get through.”
The 49-year-old said victory on Thursday would be “huge” for Dundalk. He also laughed at comparisons between him and fellow Italian Roberto Di Matteo, who famously won the Champions League with Chelsea in 2012 in an interim role.
“He won a Champions League,” laughed Giovagnoli,” but yes it would be fantastic to make the group stages.
“It’s hard especially when you come in during a season because you have to find a way to facilitate what is already there. It’s not like you can build your team and style in a pre-season. It’s a completely different job.
“Of course I would love to be here for a pre-season and work from the beginning with the club. Let’s see if this will happen next year.”
Dundalk will be without injured full backs Sean Gannon and Dane Massey on Thursday night while Chris Shields misses out through suspension.
“Chris is a big loss because he’s our captain,” said Giovagnoli.
“He’s a legend of the club but we have players ready to play this game. We are prepared and the majority of the players are fit and ready for the challenge. We just have to make sure that he has more European games to play this season,” he said.
The 49-year-old apologised for the defeat to Rovers on Sunday but said he didn’t feel it right to ask his players to play in the game given they had only returned from Moldova on Friday morning.
“I want to apologise to the fans who came here tonight for the first time and unfortunately we couldn’t prepare for the game.
“There was a lack of preparation. Of course when there is a lack of preparation you cannot expect many things from the team. There were players playing out of position but it is what it is.
“It’s not only about prioritising the game on Thursday. It was about trying to make sure that the players are safe and they don’t get injuries. How can you play a game after going to penalties and you travel 10 hours from Moldova, you come back Friday morning and don’t sleep and then Saturday you’re expected to prepare for a game and perform? That’s not right.
“I had to prioritise the health of the players and of course we have an important game next so it was the only thing we can do,” he said.