Strike while The Fans Are Happy

Europe: Game 4

Levadia Tallinn 1-2 Dundalk

That one will live long in the memory.

The pass from McEleney, the touch and finish from Patching, even the pressure from Zahibo, we’ll watch those moments over and over again. It was a special night in an incredibly unique season.

What chance did you give Vinny Perth, coming back to the club, losing Chris Shields, pre-losing Patrick McEleney, inheriting chaos off the field, to go unbeaten through four matches in Europe and to only have lost one match in the league?

It’s been a few days since the game and everyone still seems to be on a high but there are still important questions to be asked and issues that need to be addressed. I know we all want to be positive after a win like that, and we can be, but we can’t put our head in the sand either.

There have been multiple reactions to the win on Thursday and most worryingly there has been plenty of finger pointing and “fuck the begrudgers” talk. As if it’s some sort of betrayal to point out glaring issues despite advancing through Europe.

Maybe some people weren’t excited about the managerial appointment. Maybe some people questioned the timing and the process. Things have improved on the pitch and that should be celebrated and everyone involved in improving that should be celebrated, staff and players alike.

Ask yourself though, could there be a better time to announce that Vinny Perth is signed up for next season? Will Patching has signed a new contract and is staying at the club? What about an announcement that Sam Stanton is staying?

Progress, planning and building for the future, even if you don’t agree with those plans is surely better than deafening silence as more great opportunities pass us by.

Now is the time. In the days following the first leg against Tallinn, the club made an announcement regarding Oriel Park and the development plans that are being put in place and that was greeted with almost universal positivity.

Perfect timing considering we all at some point or other in the week prior to that match in Tallaght had talked about how much of a shame it is that Oriel couldn’t host it.

This week, after a grueling few games in intense heat, with a depleted squad, without arguably our best player, the squad has come through and delivered. Next round of the cup, next round of the Europa Conference. This is where we should be looking to capitalise.

There has been a feeling in the past few weeks watching Patrick McEleney’s performances improve almost week on week that this is going to be a very upsetting break up. He’s been responsible for a lot of good things that have happened on the pitch for the last few weeks and we’re all watching this knowing that he’s leaving. The other player responsible for that goal the other night might follow him.

If you’re Derry and you’ve already got McEleney and you know Patching very well wouldn’t you make a move to get both of them?

Securing European football for next season for Dundalk is of critical importance if for no other reason than it can be used to convince players to stay or attract players to the club.

We were all devastated when Chris Shields left the club and we all wondered how we would fill the gap left behind. I’m not comparing Shields to Sam Stanton but we have someone in Stanton who has performed admirably since Shields departure in that position and surely now is the time to tie him down to a new contract.

It won’t happen though. We’re not going to suddenly go from a club who can’t or won’t offer anything longer than a six month contract to tying down our best players on long term contracts.

It’s not just ok to point that out, it’s important to point that out. To want the club to be run better doesn’t mean you don’t love the club. To point out massive flaws in the club’s decision making doesn’t mean you don’t love the club. It can make you the one person in the pub who people don’t want to talk to after a big win but that doesn’t mean you don’t love the club. Some of us are used to that anyway.

I understand it can be hard to hear and hard to listen to after a win like that and believe me, no one wants to point out the shambles behind the celebrations but we have to.

If anything, this squad and this management setup being successful makes it even harder to fathom why some decisions have been made or are continuing to be made.

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