Dundalk boss believes his side can challenge to retain their title this season

Dundalk boss believes his side can challenge to retain their title this season

Filippo Giovagnoli has backed his side to challenge for the league this season.

Last season Dundalk finished a distant 22 points behind Shamrock Rovers in the shortened, Covid-hit campaign.

However, speaking to the media at an FAI-organised press conference to announce Bank of Ireland becoming an Associate Sponsor of the SSE Airtricity League last week, the Italian said the league would be the primary ambition in his first full season at the helm in Oriel Park.

The article as it appeared in The Argus on February 9th 2021

Asked did he feel his side could challenge Rovers this season, Giovagnoli replied: “We have to.

“It’s what we will need to do. We’re going to go to play to win games and try to battle to win the league for sure.

“Last season we had a different approach to the league because when we came in the only objective was to qualify for Europe and we made all the decisions to do that.

“We were doing massive turnovers to save players to play in Europe. This had a big effect and it was difficult but this year is going to be different because our focus is going to be massively on the league.”

While Europe would still be a priority come the summer, Giovagnoli said winning the league would give a greater chance of progression in Europe.

“We want to do well in the league. We want to compete and to win.

“The objective has changed and we have to follow what the club is asking because of course if you win the league then you have access to the Champions League then the year after so everything is always related to Europe because to have exposure in Europe is a massive objective for the club in terms of business and in terms of everything. To have exposure in Europe, I think is important for the League of Ireland but yes the objective is going to be the league.

“Last season we had a big squad but the problem was that at some point we started to play every three days and this was a little bit of a challenge.

“We had a couple of injuries that created some issues, Dane Massey being one, but I hope we’re going to be in the same position as last year because last year we completed all the games that was possible to play. This means that we were competitive until the end in all competitions so I think we did something massive.

“Of course we struggled on the league but it was almost a decision to do that. This year there will be a different approach but we’re going to have time at the beginning to dedicate to the league and then when July comes and we have multiple games we’ll figure it out,” he said.

“I can see us being competitive in every game and being able to win games. I don’t see why not. I think we can challenge the best team in the league without a problem. Of course, it’s not going to be easy but we want to do it for sure. We’re not going to hide. We want to play to win.”