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John Giles says 'resentment' stopped him succeeding at Shamrock Rovers

The Leeds legend and RTÉ pundit recalled his time at the helm of the Irish side on Off the Ball.

John Giles managed Shamrock Rovers between 1977 and 1983.
John Giles managed Shamrock Rovers between 1977 and 1983.
Image: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

MANAGING SHAMROCK ROVERS “was like trying to climb Mount Everest,” and the long-term goal of making the club a competitive force in Europe in hindsight had no chance of succeeding, according to former manager John Giles.

Speaking on Newstalk’s Off the Ball, the Leeds legend and RTÉ pundit, who was manager of the League of Ireland side between 1977 and 1983, suggested “resentment” was a major factor in his ultimate failure in the role.

“It was way before its time,” he said. “What I was trying to do was keep young players here.

“I never ever said I wanted to get them into Europe within five years. That was just stupid.

“I thought if we keep enough Irish players here, give them good facilities, full-time training, then we would progress, rather than lads going to England.

“But we had nobody coming along with us. There was an awful lot of resentment.”

Giles also cited poor pitches and the stances of the league’s authorities as further stumbling blocks along the way.

“We had a youth team and we wanted to get in the top flight, but they said ‘no, they’d be too strong for that’. So they put us in the third division.

“There was nobody coming along with us. We got Milltown in a very good condition, but we went to Limerick one day and looking at the pitch, [we noticed] half of the pitch was rolled and the other half was not rolled.

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“The fella says ‘the roller broke down this morning’. I said ‘you’ve had two weeks to do this’. Then I became a pain in the backside because I was always complaining about the ground. ‘It’s as good for one as it is for the other’ and all that carry on…

Giles highlighted the immense difficulty of the job but believes the league has improved, in certain respects, since his departure.

“It was a big task. People say ‘you failed at Rovers,’ but nobody ever tried it before. It was like trying to climb Mount Everest.

“What we were trying to do was very big and very unusual. I left a successful job in England with West Brom to do it. We had gotten promotion and we were seventh in the first division when I left.

“The grounds and the standards in the League of Ireland have improved greatly now, but it’s still very difficult, because they’re not getting the crowds.”

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