Shamrock Rovers boss Stephen Bradley believes that he and his team are still on the right track despite a spate of poor results that has left the club well off the pace in the title race and prompted some speculation that the 33 year-old's position might be under threat.
"I don't use the project as an excuse," says Bradley whose team's loss to bottom placed Bray Wanderers followed defeats by Dundalk and Bohemians and left his side five points off fourth place. "I know what we have to do, I am fully confident in this group and what we are building; we're not a million miles away.
“Right now we are going through a rough patch, three defeats in a row, but what do you do? Do you walk away from it or stand up as a group and say: ‘Right, let’s go’ and I thought the players showed a bit of that on Monday, more than Friday.”
Bradley has never been slow to build Rovers up or to acknowledge the levels of expectation that come with working at the club and he accepts that the supporters have a right to be disappointed by the start the team has made to the season and yet he is adamant that progress has been made this year over last.
“We deserve every bit of criticism we get,” he says; “the players, myself . . . when you are at Shamrock Rovers and you lose three games in a row, it’s not good enough, not acceptable, we know that. But we asked for a reaction from Friday where we were really poor in every department and I think we got that in Bray, you just can’t legislate for the sort of goal we gave away.
“I think this year we are different, a different team,” he continues when pressed about the team’s terrible away form (one win, three points from six games on the road). I know we are a better team.
“If you look at the goals we are giving away, every one of them is an error on our part, not ones were a fellah gets caught out of position or little one . . . but big errors on our part. We haven’t gone anywhere in the country, away from home, and got opened up; everything has been our mistakes.
“On Monday night it was down to a player of Ronan Finn’s level and standing and ability, he doesn’t make mistakes like that but he did on Monday, and right now those thing are going against us. But he knows he has made a mistake and he will bounce back, he knows that, the group know that; we are together and we will be fine. Cut out the errors and get back to winning ways on Friday.”
Bradley praised young goalkeeper Kevin Horgan for his recent performances as well as the one produced by 17 year-old Brandon Kavanagh who came on during the second half at the Carlisle grounds to make his senior league debut.
“He (Horgan) got a lot of criticism and I thought it was really unfair on the kid because the goals we have conceded should have been prevented higher up the pitch but he’s the ‘keeper and he has been criticised and he has stood up and been tremendous.
“And Brandon is a very good player; you’d rather be bringing him on in Tallaght, of course, when you’re winning a game comfortably but he is a creative player, you will see more of that in the coming months; he will create and score goals and I think he did well coming on on Monday night in difficult conditions.”
Shelbourne, meanwhile, have appointed former Rovers goalkeeper Dave Henderson as their head of recruitment. The club, which has also appointed 26 year-old former Rovers and Limerick defender Dave O'Connor as CEO on Monday, is currently being restructured with the help of investment from new backer, Andrew Doyle.