Dundalk manager Vinny Perth admits his side’s form is a worry ahead of their Champions League clash with Slovenian champions NK Celje in Hungary on Wednesday (kick-off 6pm Irish time, live on RTÉ Two).
Since the restart, Dundalk have drawn two and lost one of their three league matches and were perhaps fortunate not to suffer back-to-back defeats against Waterford FC on Friday when the sending off of Ali Coote 12 minutes from the end sparked a revival from the home side.
That sort of form, coupled with the fact that several key players are either out of form or lacking match time, means there is a concern about the team heading into the clash with Celje this week.
Nevertheless, Perth is hopeful that his team can turn it around for the big occasion at the Szusza Ferenc Stadion in Újpest.
Asked was the side’s form a worry ahead of Europe, Perth said: “Yes it is.
“The only thing I can look at is that a lot of these players for eight and a half years have been really good to this club, excellent professionals and I hope they can turn it back on when the match day comes.
“We’re playing a very difficult side but we have a good side there that can be a lot better than they have showed over the last month.”
Perth described the side’s form of late as “very, very disappointing.”
He said: “The problem with being at Dundalk is that every draw feels like a defeat. It will sound like a defeat and for want of a better word, the criticism will come like it is a defeat. It’s a bad night for us and it’s disappointing.”
Asked could he put his finger on a reason for the below par displays, Perth said: “No, I can’t. We did change the team around a little bit.
Brian (Gartland) was sick over the last day or two and he had done really well the other day. We probably lacked a bit of his leadership.
“Patrick (McEleney) needed game time ahead of Wednesday. He played well at times but there was a little bit of rustiness around us. Darragh Leahy was really struggling so we haven’t had the consistency in the team over the last few weeks because players were out of form and some of it is because we seem to have run over a black cat at this club over the last couple of months, but beyond that I’m not 100% sure why that performance was put in.
“To be fair to the players they are struggling with it too.
“I think we deserved a point and in the end we should have won the game on chances created, but we defended sloppily for two goals. We’ve done enough to win the game but it hasn’t gone our way.”
Perth said he would need to work on getting the side back on form ahead of Wednesday’s game.
Asked how they could turn it on again, he said: “I don’t know. I’ll go away and assess it over the next day or so and see where we stand as a club. It’s a difficult moment for myself and the players and the club. There is no easy answer to that.”
Perth said he felt his side were getting no luck at the moment.
“Look when it’s not going your way… football is hugely about momentum.
“When you look at it with 15 minutes to go last week, Rovers were losing 1-0 and they go on to win 2-1. That is football. It’s not just momentum, you have to be better than that and create your own luck but there is no luck around this place at the moment for whatever reason. But it’s not just luck, there is a lack of belief in the group at the moment which is very surprising.”