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Dublin: 4°C Wednesday 3 March 2021

'I don't rotate because I am crazy' - Filippo Giovagnoli defends goalkeeper decision

The Dundalk boss replaced Gary Rogers with Aaron McCarey ahead of this evening’s game.

Filippo Giovagnoli pictured during tonight's match.
Filippo Giovagnoli pictured during tonight's match.
Image: GEPA Pictures/Christian Ort/INPHO

DUNDALK BOSS Filippo Giovagnoli defended his team selection and praised his players after a spirited display that saw them fall just short in a seven-goal thriller in the Europa League away to Rapid Vienna tonight.

The Italian coach made six changes in total to the team that started against Arsenal, and replacing the experienced Gary Rogers with Aaron McCarey was one of the more surprising calls.

The 28-year-old former Wolves youngster will feel he could have done better for more than one of the goals conceded, but Giovagnoli defended his pre-match decision.

“Gary played two games consecutively — Arsenal and St Pat’s. So it was time to give space to Aaron. We do this kind of rotation. Aaron is fit. He’s in shape. He actually did really well with the distribution. Our build-up was good, because he was good. He didn’t panic. He was good on the ball. It’s a factor that maybe you guys don’t see. But it was really important. I don’t know with the goals, we’re going to see in the video if he did something wrong. From the bench, you cannot see well.”

The Dundalk boss then doubled down when pressed on this matter.

“I’m not constantly changing the ‘keeper. After Arsenal, we were talking about Gary making mistakes. After St Pat’s, the same thing. All the time we do something, you guys have something to say. Whatever thing I do, it doesn’t work for you. If we make some changes, it’s because we need to make some changes.

“Gary played two games in [a couple of] days. It was the time to put another goalie in goal. And Aaron deserved to be there. That’s it finished. I don’t rotate because I am crazy. There is a reason why. The reason is you cannot play three or four games in 10-12 days. Even if you recover a little bit physically, you can commit mistakes, you are exposed.”

Giovagnoli also praised the overall team performance and suggested the ultimate outcome was harsh on his side.

“The team performed and deserved much more than what happened at the end. But we understand we can compete at this level.

“We had to understand if we could compete with these Europa giants. Now, we understand that we can compete. 

“We were not afraid, we came with a plan. We played soccer. And unfortunately, the result is not good for us. But I’m looking forward now in the future in the next few games with positivity.

“We build-up, we possess, we try to combine in the defensive third, in the middle third, in the attacking third. So it was a complete performance.

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“Then we commit some mistakes and of course, in Europe, if you commit some mistakes, you get punished.

“And to be honest, if you remember well, after we tied at 2-2, Greg Sloggett had a big opportunity from a cross. The ball went out by maybe an inch. So we could’ve even gone up 3-2.

Sometimes, you need a little bit of luck. I don’t trust much in the luck, I trust in the work, but sometimes you need it, and tonight wasn’t our night with the result. 

Having taken zero points from the opening three games, Dundalk’s hopes of progressing any further in the Europa League look all but over.

Now, the focus will turn to domestic battle to earn a European spot, with a crucial game against Sligo on Monday. In addition to the remaining three Europa League fixtures, they also have an FAI Cup quarter-final against Bohemians to look forward to.

And Giovagnoli was keen to remind people that Dundalk were overachieving simply by reaching this stage in Europe. 

“We have three good performances now. Can we qualify for the knockout round? Maybe not. Of course not, because we play against giants. [Other] Europa teams are giants compared to us.  But we understand that we can compete. I’m really happy for the players. They showed that they can compete at this level.

“We’re going to be dangerous in the group until the end, really dangerous.

He continued: “Oh my god, [Chris] Shieldsy was amazing. His performance was unbelievable. But the performance of the team was unbelievable. They were great. We played without fear. We tried to win the game. We tried to win the game against Rapid Vienna away. 

I don’t know guys if you understand the difference between a club like Dundalk and a club like Rapid Vienna, Arsenal and Molde. Are you checking the budget? Are you checking the value? Are you checking everything? It’s important to understand this. And it’s a big merit of their players that they are able to compete against these giants.

“I have an amazing group of players. I am so proud of them. But still, the difference is there. Resources. Everything. We have to be honest.”

About the author:

Paul Fennessy

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