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Caulfield bats away 'unfair question' about his future as Cork City manager

A run of eight games without a win has put pressure on the man who guided City to a double in 2017.

Cork City manager John Caulfield (file pic).
Cork City manager John Caulfield (file pic).
Image: James Crombie/INPHO

CORK CITY MANAGER John Caulfield has expressed confidence in his ability to improve his team’s ailing fortunes while he remains in charge.

Having been held to a 1-1 draw by bottom-of-the-table Finn Harps, City have now failed to win in their last eight Premier Division outings.

After last night’s game at Turner’s Cross, which attracted an attendance of 1,621, Caulfield admitted that his side must urgently arrest their slump if they’re to avoid being pulled deeper into a relegation battle.

Their next opportunity to end a dismal run will come on Friday night against a Bohemians side who are just four points behind leaders Shamrock Rovers with a game in hand.

Speaking during this afternoon’s pre-match press conference, Caulfield referenced his track record of success as Cork City manager when the issue of his future in the job was raised.

Since he took over ahead of the 2014 campaign, City have won two FAI Cups and a Premier Division title, including a historic first league-and-cup double in 2017. They have also never finished outside the top two in the league during Caulfield’s tenure.

“I think it’s an unfair question, to be honest,” the 54-year-old said, when asked by The42 if results have caused him to consider his position. “At the end of the day, the bottom line is that we have worked incredibly hard, the management team have had five unbelievable years — all of a sudden are they not good enough?”

While he insisted that the Cork City board have been “supportive” in the wake of recent difficulties on the pitch, Caulfield pointed to this season’s budget reduction — which followed an increase in 2018 — as one of the reasons for the decline in form.

“The goalposts changed,” he said. “We changed the scenario within the club at the start of the year, we didn’t want to invest as much, so things have changed and we have to work within that.

“Does that say that the management team that has led and brought players through, and competed and won trophies and made money for the club over the last five years, all of a sudden have become bad? I don’t think so.

“I think we have fantastic people, highly-qualified people, all working extremely hard, but we are going through a difficult time. It’s up to us to rally the lads. If their confidence is down, you have to get it up and that’s what we’ll try to do.” 

In response to a follow-up question regarding his budget at the fans-owned club, Caulfield said: “I work within the guidelines that are there. We always have and we always will, because that’s who the people in this club are. Do I think what was decided upon was decided upon rightly or wrongly? Certainly we can all see that in football at any level you need to invest.

“Everyone can see the panels we had for the last number of years and the quality we had and the strength in depth. This year, with injuries and suspensions, our strength in depth isn’t as strong.

“But we’ve brought young players through and there’s more young fellas coming through and it’s good for them. That’s where it’s at. Maybe questions need to be asked to different people, maybe the general manager. I speak about the football side.”

Kevin O’Connor’s spectacular free-kick early in the second half of last night’s clash with Finn Harps looked set to end City’s winless run. However, Keith Cowan earned a point for Ollie Horgan’s visitors with a 75th-minute equaliser.

“As an ex-player and supporter myself, there’s nobody more sick for the supporters than myself,” said Caulfield. “There’s nothing like the buzz of a win and then, as a supporter, when you lose it knocks you and you get your hopes up for the next game.

“There’s nobody that takes it to heart more than myself, but I have to deal with it. It’s a difficult period. I know in the club where we’re at and what we have to do.”

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Paul Dollery

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