Bottoms Up

'No club is too big to go down... even Manchester United were relegated'

St Pat’s boss Liam Buckley admits his concern as his struggling side sit at the bottom of the Premier Division.

LIAM BUCKLEY IS hoping to strengthen his squad when the transfer window opens in July in order to boost his chances of keeping St Patrick’s Athletic in the SSE Airtricity League Premier Division.

After Friday night’s 2-0 defeat to Dundalk at Richmond Park, Pat’s — who were the last team to win the Premier Division before the Lilywhites’ run of three consecutive titles — are languishing at the bottom of the table.

The St.Pat's team huddle before the game The St Patrick's Athletic team in a huddle before Friday's defeat to Dundalk. Bryan Keane / INPHO Bryan Keane / INPHO / INPHO

The Saints have never played in the second tier of Irish football but, having won just three of their 16 league games so far in 2017, they’re in serious danger of being one of the three teams who will drop out of the top flight in October.

After failing to pick up a win in their first five games of the campaign, Buckley’s side appeared to have turned a corner towards the end of March when they recorded back-to-back Dublin derby victories over Shamrock Rovers and Bohemians.

However, since then the Inchicore outfit have secured just one win in their last nine outings — at home to fellow strugglers Drogheda United. Their bid for a third successive EA Sports Cup also ended with a quarter-final loss to Cork City.

Although they’ve never been relegated before, Buckley admits that Pat’s — who have won major silverware in each of the last four seasons — have a difficult job on their hands to keep that record intact.

He said: “No club is too big to go down. Even Manchester United were relegated and they’re probably one of the biggest clubs on the planet. We’re not stupid and I’m not stupid either. I know the situation. I’m not blind, I can see the league table.

“It is a concern that were at the bottom at this stage. Normally we’d be fundamentally playing better and that’s why we’ll have to look during the [transfer] window and see what we can and can’t do.

“There’s not a lot you can do, bearing in mind what’s floating around, but we’ve just got to look at the next game now and see can we get something out of [Shamrock] Rovers.”

Liam Buckley St Pat's manager Liam Buckley. Gary Carr / INPHO Gary Carr / INPHO / INPHO

While Pat’s are currently propping up the table, the competitive nature of the relegation battle means that a only a minor change in fortunes can alter the outlook significantly. Just six points separates the Saints from the top half of the table.

“We’re at the bottom end of the table here,” said Buckley. “There are about six or seven teams that are going to get dragged into all this trouble this year. We’re at the bottom. It is a concern for us. We’re coming up to the halfway stage of the season and we certainly don’t want to be there.”

He added: “There’s very little between a lot of the teams. There’s seven or eight. Bar the top three or four — your Corks, Dundalks — outside of them, they’re probably a bit above everybody else.

“From our end, we’re at the bottom but we’ve got to review everything — from fitness to organisation to how we’re playing — to make sure we dig enough points out to get out of the trouble we’re in.”

– Reporting by Harry Manning

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