Vinny Perth must hate the second week of April.
It was April 12th last year when Dundalk lost their second match in-a-row away to Sligo Rovers to fall 13 points behind Shamrock Rovers in the title race.
Twelve months on and 365 days later on April 11th news emerged that his assistant Ruaidhrí Higgins was on his way out of Oriel Park to join Stephen Kenny in his new Republic of Ireland setup.
Just as Perth and Dundalk overcame last year’s setback, they can rise to this one too.
There’s no doubt Higgins will be a loss at Oriel Park. As a player, opposition analyst and coach he has contributed a great deal to the success of recent years and that will not be forgotten about in a hurry.
Yet the show must go on for Perth and his side.
Continuity was the buzzword when he succeeded Kenny just over 15 months and it should remain so now.
That’s why the club’s owners must show their faith in Perth by offering him a new contract – as soon as possible!
In overcoming the early wobbles of last season and the series of injury problems that his predecessor never had to contend with, Perth has proven himself to be a more than capable head coach and manager.
Of course, he inherited a hugely talented side who had just won the double under Kenny but he has managed to maintain that relentless drive for success while building to hopefully take the side to new levels. The recent acquisitions of Nathan Oduwa and Stefan Colovic promise additional excitement whenever the football action returns while the capture of the latter could be a sign of more of what is to come as the club spread their search for players across Europe rather than the traditional Irish and UK markets.
While wage levels of other clubs who have imposed cuts are undoubtedly higher in a lot of cases, the backing PEAK6 have shown the club by ensuring all staff on and field are paid in full during the current Covid-19 pandemic will undoubtedly make Dundalk a more attractive destination for players going forward.
While no one at Oriel will take any delight from the struggles of other clubs, the reality is some will not be as strong financially when all this is over. Riga, as an example of a side who Dundalk met in Europe last year, have already had to impose huge cuts on their players.
By contrast, as long as PEAK6 continue to back the Lilywhites, the club should be on a sound footing to kick on once more when the current global crisis passes.
Despite question marks from several League of Ireland fans over their intentions since their arrival on Irish shores, the club’s American owners have done nothing to suggest that this backing will alter any time soon.
Indeed, the word behind the scenes is that work is already underway on identifying potential targets for what would have been the traditional summer transfer window.
While he is well supported by those around him, it is Perth overseeing all of this.
Yet, he is out of contract at the end of the current campaign.
Given his rapport with the board and the tireless work he has put in off the field in improving the club’s community links since taking charge, there is no major fears that he won’t be offered a new deal. So why wait?
While it is understandable that contract talks for the 13 or so players who are out of contract at the end of the season have been put on hold due to the current Coronavirus crisis, the club can show a huge statement of intent now by tying down Perth.
There will be no shortage of coaches interested in the role Higgins has just vacated. After all, Oriel Park has proven to be a real stepping stone to big things for those behind the scenes in recent years. Aside from Kenny and Higgins moving on to the international scene, Stephen O’Donnell landed the St Patrick’s Athletic job despite not having even started his Pro Licence, Fearghal Kerin moved on to a prominent role in the rehab department at Leinster Rugby while Eoin Clarkin is now working with Arsenal Ladies.
For anyone to commit to Dundalk now, they will want to know who they are working for. That’s why PEAK6 should act now and show their faith in Perth.
He has more than earned it.
Continuity was the key word around Oriel Park when he first took on the top job and there’s no reason at all to change tact now.