Vinny Perth has appealed to Dundalk supporters to stand by the club in the wake of his dismissal from the manager’s job on Thursday evening.
A large number of fans have expressed anger at the decision to axe the 44-year-old with some considering various forms of protest as a result.
However, speaking to The Argus on Sunday evening, Perth said it was important that everyone stuck together.
“Owners and boards come and go but the real custodians of a club are the supporters. I understand the frustrations of the supporters at the moment but I just hope they stick by the club,” he said.
“I hear things like people pulling out of the Patreon scheme but that doesn’t represent the people of Dundalk by doing stuff like that because that Patreon scheme is driven by Gavin McLaughlin. It’s his brainchild. It’s designed to protect the club long-term.
“I just hope that the supporters back the team at the moment and give them the support they need. The players deserve it. They need to stick by the club. That’s what Dundalk has always been brilliant for.”
Perth said a moment with the fans was his stand out highlight from his time at Oriel Park and thanked them for their support.
“It was never really captured or caught on camera but my favourite moment in the eight and a half years was not lifting the trophy last year in front of the main stand, it was jumping into The Shed and celebrating with them after that. It was a great moment because all the cameras and the focus was on the trophy ceremony but I spent about a minute jumping up and down in The Shed and it’s probably still my favourite memory.
“Now them people need to stick by the club. I understand there’s frustrations but it’s so important that the good people of the town stick by the club. They can still achieve a lot of goals this year.”
Perth said he would be taking time out, admitting that he had yet to fully process the recent tragic deaths of club groundsman Harry Taaffe or his brother-in-law David McArdle, but he said he hoped to be back in Oriel Park one day to that those who had played such a big part in his life since late 2012.
“From a personal point of view I need to switch off for a while. I’ve had two major deaths in my life and I probably need to take time to grieve and let my family grieve but in time, hopefully post-Covid, hopefully I can thank people in person for all the help that they’ve given me.
“I’ll look back on those eight and a half years with nothing but fond memories.
“I appreciate the support I’ve received in the last few days but what I really want is for people to stick by the club and support the hard work. Remember people like Gavin McLaughlin, Ailish Kelly and Martin Connolly and support all the hard work they do.
“The club will still be there no matter what happens. Dundalk will live on forever so stick with it and back the club.”
Speaking on RTÉ on Friday night, Perth said he expected to be sacked following the side’s 3-0 defeat to NK Celje in Hungary on Wednesday.
“It’s certainly not a surprise to me that the decision was made. It was inevitable. It wasn’t a real shock.
“I had a brief discussion with the chairman last night. It’s been a difficult time for the club on and off the pitch for a number of months.
“There have been things in the background that haven’t been good enough. Ultimately, we haven’t been good enough on the pitch.
“There’s no doubt there was a difference of opinion on where we are and where we need to move forward. We have a difference of opinion. I have to respect that.
“The club have decided to go in a different direction. We’re comfortable with that. That’s where we’ve ended up.
“People will say ultimately the decision is down to losing in the Champions League. It’s not. It’s a bigger decision than that. That’s fine.”
He said he was proud to have been part of that success and the four title wins as assistant boss under Stephen Kenny.
“What Dundalk have achieved in the last eight years is incredible,” he said.
“Yes, we were a penalty kick away from complete dominance eight games ago. That’s all. From that point of view, it’s disappointing.
“But the club have been phenomenal and I’m very proud of my association with the club.
“Ultimately, I think LOI is better because of what’s happened at Dundalk over the last eight years. We changed Irish football as a group.”
Perth denied reports of tension between him and first-team coach John Gill, saying their relationship was ‘very strong.’
“People will throw mud and if they throw enough of it, it will stick,” he said.
“There’s no doubt there was a difference of opinion with the club.
“On Wednesday night, I went out with a very clear mind what I thought the right team was in the Champions League. I don’t think ultimately that’s why I lost the job.”
The humidity of the Hungarian summer is the only heat that Vinny Perth says he will be feeling when his side take to the field tonight for their Champions League qualifier with Slovenian champions NK Celje at the Szusza Ferenc Stadion in Újpest.
After taking just two points from a possible nine on offer since the SSE Airtricity League restarted at the end of last month, Dundalk find themselves eight points off league leaders Shamrock Rovers with just 10 games to go of the shortened domestic season.
That form, coupled with the focus of the club’s American owners PEAK6 on Europe, means that the 44-year-old’s future in the Oriel Park dug out has come into focus ahead of tonight’s game.
Despite admitting confidence was at a low ebb right now, Perth said he was not worried about his position and backed himself to turn things around – starting with progression in the Champions League this evening.
Asked was he under pressure, the Dubliner said: “No I don’t. Not at all. No, no, no.
“I mean the pressure is internal. I have my own pressure but I believe I can compete at this level and I believe I belong at this level. I believe in and around European and Champions League level is where I belong and I believe the players belong there.
“I’m very comfortable in my own skin. At this club, I’ve won five league titles. Very few other people in Dundalk’s history have won five league titles so I’m very comfortable in my own skin.”
Despite their poor form at home, Perth has backed his players to park that and raise their game for the big occasion against a Celje side who won the Slovan Prva Liga title for the first time last month.
“What we’ve got to do, and I think what we have done, is ignore the noise outside.
“You have to switch off from it. You have to let people gossip and say what they have to say but internally there’s no doubt we have to replace the word worry.
“A lot of people are worried about different things and there’s a lot of worry around the club but we have to get rid of the worry and become warriors. They’re two similar words with slight changes to them but I believe in this group in what they’ve done and what they’ve achieved on the pitch. I believe in myself. I’ve been here eight years. I’ve five league titles and Cup success and close to 40 games in Europe. I believe we’ve the right people.
“The one thing I am is a warrior as well. When I look back to even 2017 as an example, we lost to Cork and went 18 points behind them. Since then we’ve won almost every domestic trophy in the two years that followed. We lost one FAI Cup and one League Cup but other than that we’ve won every domestic trophy.”
Perth said he was aware that it was that recent success which brought the spotlight on him so intensely.
“Yeah and I welcome that because if I was at a club that was winning a game, drawing a game and losing a game then I wouldn’t have the same questions so I welcome that because it tells me that I’m operating at the highest level.
“It tells me that I’m in the right position and it tells me that I’m working at the right club. I welcome it but I do believe in this group.
“They’re just an amazing group of people. I do believe they have what it takes and I believe in myself. I’m comfortable in my own skin that we can achieve our goals this year. I absolutely believe this.”
At this stage last season there were similar question marks around Perth’s future ahead of their Champions League clash with Riga – a tie they ultimately advanced from on penalties after scoreless draws at home and away.
This time it’s a one leg winner-takes-all match but the Dundalk manager is in no doubt that Dušan Kosič’s side will offer a sterner test than that of the Latvians 12 months ago.
“They’re a lot better than Riga, of that there’s no doubt,” he said.
“They play a similar way with two number sixes generally but they’re a lot better than Riga.
“Slovenian sides, generally Maribor and Olimpija, are normally seeded but it’s just that Celje have won a league against the run of it. They won the league with less than 50 per cent possession so they’re very much a pacy team who like to counter attack but there’s no doubt that the Slovenian champions should be seeded but they’re not. We’ve been unlucky in that sense but we’re still the seeded team and we’ve got to go there with confidence and experience and I think that’s the key.”
While Perth was full of praise for the attacking talents of Celje’s front four of Dario Vizinger, Ivan Bozic, Luka Kerin and Mitja Lotric, he feels Dundalk are every bit as dangerous up front.
“They are very much a speedy and powerful team in their front four but we do believe there is areas where we can exploit them and ultimately that’s what we’ll be trying to do.
“There’s goals in this team but we’ve just got to be a little bit better defensively. “Stefan Colovic, Daniel Kelly, Nathan Oduwa, Michael Duffy or Patrick McEleney, there’s magic in them and we also have the greatest scorer in Dundalk’s history in Patrick Hoban and we don’t need to look too far back to see what David McMillan has done in Europe as well so there is inspirational people in our team and we have to look to them to bring the magic to it on Wednesday.
“Despite recent results there have been huge positives as well and our front four are at the level they need to be but it’s what is behind them that needs to get up another level but I’ve no doubt we can do that. The players are good enough and we’re ready for it.
“You’d think Dundalk have been this amazing team for the last seven or eight years. We have been but there has been spells where it hasn’t been brilliant and spells where we’ve had to go to the well and win games.
“There was an Athlone game in 2014 where Darren Meenan fell over in the 93rd minute and Richie Towell scored a penalty. Now if that happens we’d be criticised from pillar to post and rightly so because we’re at the highest level but it just shows we’re on a good path way, we’re in a good place and we’ve come a long way as a group and we’re not finished yet,” said Perth.
Dundalk boss Vinny Perth is hopeful his side will play their first game since March on Friday week July 10th with Derry City the likely opponents.
The 43-year-old is in the process of lining up a series of friendlies for his side to help prepare them for the hoped for return of the SSE Airtricity League on July 31st and the Champions League qualifiers in mid-August.
While he does not wish to advertise the games pencilled in as yet, the Lilywhites manager said a return to action was on the horizon.
“We’ll probably play the first game on Friday 10th July,” he said.
“We’ll play our first 11v11 in-house game on Friday as well just among ourselves.
“We have friendlies lined up but we just won’t be announcing any just yet. That suits any club we’ve spoken to.
“We’re very close to being able to announce some but they’ll probably only be the week we play them.”
While talks regarding a possible return of the league had failed to reach a conclusion once again last week, Perth said he and his side were still working towards an expected return date of July 31st.
“I don’t think it’s a trade secret that we’re working towards July 31st,” he said.
“I expect that that is when some sort of a league will be back. We’re not sure what it will be but the players have to be prepared for that.
“We’ve also got to prepare to be ready for Europe. We’ve lost the advantage of summer football but the one thing we’ve never done is being caught out for fitness in the close to 40 games that I’ve been involved in with the club in Europe so we have to make sure we’re there on that as well.” Perth said training had been going well so far.
“We’re at the start of our fourth week and we really haven’t had an injury. We’ve had a couple of small things with Gary Rogers and Sean Hoare but they’re nothing major. John Mountney has returned to training so in that sense I’m really, really happy. It has been a perfect pre-season.”
Alan Reynolds was officially unveiled as the club’s new assistant last Tuesday and Perth said he had already made an impact on the training pitch.
“Alan is an experienced person around the league and for too long Irish coaches have been undervalued. I think he’s someone who is very experienced but he has come in as if he has been here for a long, long time so we’re very happy so far.”
The manager also welcomed the addition of Joshua Gatt to the squad and said the twice-capped USA international would be given a chance to prove himself despite having his career interrupted by four major knee surgeries in the last seven years.
“Josh has got until the end of the season,” he said.
“The lad deserves a chance. He’s someone who is very experienced but he’s had a lot of bad, bad luck and things haven’t gone his way. No matter who you are or what you are in life you need a chance from somebody. “Many times in my career I’ve had a chance from different people so I think he’s worth a chance. He has been brilliant around the place so far but we’ll see where it ends up.”
Asked was he concerned about the 28-year-old’s previous knee problems, Perth said: “There’s no doubt that there’s a history there. We’ve taken that completely into consideration but he deserves a chance and we’ve given him a chance so we’ll see where it goes.”
Meanwhile, Cameron Dummigan has reported back to training with the club after his loan spell at Crusaders came to an end. Republic of Ireland underage goalkeeper Jimmy Corcoran has also been training with the side following his release from Preston North End. The 18-year-old Meath man could be signed as a third choice behind Gary Rogers and Aaron McCarey as he is also eligible to play at U-19 level for this season and next but is also understood to have other options.
Dundalk boss Vinny Perth hasn’t ruled out adding to his squad before their Champions League campaign begins in mid-August.
The Lilywhites now know they will be in first round qualifying action on either August 18th or 19th and are hopeful that the league will be back in some capacity before then.
While Perth is happy with the strength of his squad right now, he is also aware that players can become available in the summer as the more traditional seasons in the UK and much of Europe wind to a close.
“It is an option and we’re always open to it but at the moment we don’t know what sort of league we’ll have this year,” he said when asked about possible additions.
“We expect there will be a league of some sort but it could just be 13 games. Again, that’s the problem.
“We’ve built a squad for 36 games and it’s a lot easier to keep people happy over that amount of games than it is 13.
“We played 55 games in total last year whereas this year it could be 13 and a couple of European games so we’ve got to be careful we don’t have too big of a squad either.
“That said, we’ve got a board that is willing to back us. If I bring anything to their door then they’re certainly willing to discuss it.
“If Dani Alves becomes available, I’ll have to work out who is the best between him and Sean Gannon,” laughed Perth.
The 43-year-old said he was pleased with the manner in which he had “flipped” the squad to allow for better attacking options this season.
“The squad is the same size as last year but we have flipped it around,” he said.
“Jarvis is gone and Folan is gone. We only had three wingers last year – Duffy, Mountney and Kelly. When Duffy couldn’t play in Riga, Patrick McEleney had to play there and we missed John with a lot of injuries last year so Jamie McGrath was our back-up on that right-hand side.
“Now we’ve got those three and Stefan Colovic and Nathan Oduwa so we feel we’ve flipped the squad around to have real strength in the forward areas. We just haven’t seen it in action yet.
“We had five defenders on the bench against Shels but all of a sudden then we went up to Ballybofey with Patrick McEleney, Stefan Colovic and Jordan Flores on the bench so that’s ultimately where we want to get to and we’re not far off that.
“You can see in the last week or so that Patrick Hoban and Stefan Colovic have a wonderful partnership already but we just have to fit them into the team now,” he said.
Meanwhile, Perth said there was no update as yet on the possibility of Cammy Smith returning to the club after his loan spell from Dundee United ended.
“There is none yet,” he said when asked for an update on the future of the Scottish midfielder.
“I think they’re due to return to training next week so he’ll be having meetings himself there then and we’ll take it from there depending on how they go.”
The good news at present is that all players are currently fit and healthy following their return to training.
“Our medical department has been superb,” said Perth.
“We’ve got to drive the club towards being a European club. That has always been my goal and the departments that are ready for that more than any other is the strength and conditioning and medical departments.
“Everybody is training at the moment. Yes, we’ll protect one or two because you’ll always get little niggles but the fitness levels have been superb. We’ve already played five-a-sides and done shooting drills because of the work the players put in through the lockdown with Graham Norton in particular.”
Dundalk FC boss Vinny Perth has strongly rejected suggestions that the SSE Airtricity League champions have been lobbying other clubs to start the season from scratch.
A report in The Irish Sun on Sunday claimed that the Lilywhites wanted the five games already played in the league in February and March to be axed and for the campaign to be started afresh with two rounds of 18 matches played.
However, speaking to The Argus that evening, Perth said the article was “not a reflection of the opinions of the club.”
Dundalk had been criticised for their supposed stance with some suggesting it was a tactic to ensure they were back on a level playing field with current league leaders Shamrock Rovers, who top the table by three points after beating the champions 3-2 in Tallaght Stadium at the end of February.
“The headline is poor,” Perth said, when asked about it.
“If you read the piece it’s more balanced but we’re not looking to restart the season, we’re looking to finish the season and they’re two different things.
“We’re three points behind on the pitch and deservedly so but we’re also six, seven and eight points ahead of other rivals as well.”
The manager clarified that it was Dundalk’s preference to play as many games as possible in the league season.
“There is only one offer on the table at the minute and that is to finish the season by the end of October, which is effectively 13 games.
“We do feel there should be at least an option two, if not an option three, on the table and with the big announcement on Friday night of extra funding for Irish sport, the question we think should be asked is can that help the League of Ireland fulfil the very minimum 27 games, which would mean 22 more?
“If some clubs can ask for no relegation then we can ask for an extended season and I don’t think that’s rude or there’s anything wrong with it but to be clear we’re three points behind and deservedly so.”
Perth said that while he understood there would be differing opinions on the right way to restart the season, taking points off teams was nothing something he or the club were pushing for.
“The piece doesn’t reflect our opinion. For too long people were self serving and League of Ireland people just cared about themselves but we need to pull together as best we can.
“If you read the pieces I had done throughout last week, I happened to be in The Sun, The Star and The Mirror this week and there was no criticism of any of those pieces but this headline has grabbed a lot of attention I believe and it’s not a good reflection of where we are as a club. You can’t speak about sporting integrity and then suggest we take points off people as well.
“There has to be give and take though. At the moment there only appears to be take where some people are looking for no relegation and others want two up and that kind of thing but we’re just making the suggestion that can the league be extended beyond October and at least then we’d get a bit more of a balanced view about who the best team is, who the worst team is and who the top four are.”
Perth also joked that some of his players, including top scorer Patrick Hoban and potential Puskas Award nominee Jordan Flores, wouldn’t be too happy if the first five games were axed from the records.
“I’d be worried about Jordan but also Pat Hoban had started the season on fire and if you know anything about Pat he takes great pride in his goals and rightly so.
“I want him thinking that way. He has his own targets so he’ll want them five goals to count.
“We’re not looking to expunge any records though. We’re looking to have at least an option B on the table,” he said.