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'My wife tells me my name is muck on social media, but I haven't seen it myself, so it doesn't affect me'

Vinny Perth praised his side’s ‘togetherness’ after they earned a first win since his return as manager.

Image: Ciaran Culligan/INPHO

VINNY PERTH praised his side’s togetherness after Dundalk earned a much-needed 1-0 win over Drogheda on Monday.

It’s been a difficult season for the Lilywhites. Several experienced players have departed, with Chris Shields the latest to exit following nine and a half years at the club.

Monday’s win was Perth’s first victory since returning to the club as manager, having previously been dismissed following a failure to qualify for the Champions League last August.

It followed on from a 1-1 draw with Longford on Friday, in what was Perth’s first game back in charge, with the two most recent results leaving them seventh in the table — still a disappointing position for a side that finished third last year and won the FAI Cup.

“I felt pressure from myself internally,” he told reporters after the Drogheda game. “The most nervous I was was Friday night in any game, not that I was manager for but any other big games, and we’ve been involved in a lot of big games. I feel a lot of pressure around the place.

“The only good thing is my wife tells me my name is muck on social media, but I haven’t seen it myself, so it doesn’t affect me. I’m able to make the drive to work every day and whistle and sing — it’s an easier life. I’ll set my own standards.

“But forget me, there are good people in that dressing room and I think they’ve shown that in the last few days. I’m very proud to stand here on their behalf and they’re the ones that can take credit for tonight to be fair.”

Perth said that his players “know themselves they deserve a certain amount of criticism” but feels they have responded positively of late. In particular, he singled out Faroe Islands international Sonni Nattestad for praise.

“We put him in tonight for his height from an attacking point of view more so, but some of the headers he won late in the game showed a real determination and we’re fighting as a group and he showed that to be fair to him.

“I’ve genuinely only had three training sessions, so I haven’t really had a chance to see him. But going on what I’ve seen on WyScout and InStats and going on what I’ve seen in the league, there’s a good player in him. It’s very difficult in the League of Ireland, very few players come in and hit the ground running.

“I can think of a few — your Kevin Hunts and Baba Livingstones — but generally it takes people a while to learn about this league and understand it. I’m not sure if he’s there yet, but he certainly has the attributes to play at a really high level.”

The Dundalk boss, meanwhile, was due to meet with Director of Football Jim Magilton after the game to discuss potential transfer targets, with the window set to open for the month of July.

“I feel the squad is slightly imbalanced, and Jim agrees with me,” he explained.

“The team have been set up as a 5-3-2 team, and Michael [Duffy] and Daniel Kelly probably need a hand at different stages, and we don’t have that. That’s just one example. Brian Gartland and Daniel Cleary, they’re out [long term]. So we definitely need a bit of cover in that position. It’s a bit of everything.

“Everything’s up for grabs [in terms of players coming and going]. Myself and Jim are on the same page, bar one or two, where we’ve different football opinions. 

“There are no clear decisions on anybody. I’ve had two games, five or six training sessions, so myself and Jim need a little bit of time to breathe.

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“There’s interest in players in Dundalk. There’s interest in us bringing in some good players. So the ball is in the air and we’ll see how it falls over the next few days.

“If someone wants to bid for one of our players and it’s of interest and we feel we can bring someone else in for the same quality or better, we’ll do it. But it’s not the remit I’ve been given that we need to sell players.”

Asked about plans beyond the end of this season, Perth added: “My role is to effectively steady the ship, have the players fighting for the badge and they’ve done that in the last few games.

“There will be challenges, pros and cons. We’ll have some bad nights between now and the end of the season. And despite the speculation, I don’t believe all of it. There’s no doubt we have to review where we are. I’m not breaking trade secrets. We have spent like a European and league-winning team and we’re not there at the moment and we have to cut our cloth to suit, but it’s not slash everything, absolutely not. There’s a balance in it and the better the club does over the next few months, maybe the better we do in terms of the rebuild as such, so we’ll see how that plays out.” 

He continued: “I don’t know enough about the group to set targets. But I think Dundalk need a proper club that people are proud to play for and I think we’ve lost that connection with people around the town.

“I think over the last few days, the players have really responded to that challenge. And to be fair to them, they’re battling for the jersey and that’s steadied the ship. That’s the first thing we have to do and then see where the journey takes us. I haven’t been told ‘you have to get them into third or fourth,’ but the fans and owners would be happier if there was a bit more positivity around the club.”

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