Newly installed Dundalk manager Filippo Giovagnoli says the instructions from club chairman Bill Hulsizer were crystal clear as he was handed the job: "Win everything! As simple as that," but the 49-year-old Italian insists that as long he is at Oriel Park he will be the one picking the team and deciding on tactics.
In socially distanced, outdoor press conference at which the manager was joined at the top table by his assistant Giuseppe Rossi, Giovagnoli insisted that he can win the players at the club over and help them back to winning ways.
He admits that his immediate background of working with academy kids in New York will leave many sceptical but seemed a little surprised at the suggestion that being from a country on the Government’s green list had him halfway to getting the job: “If it’s going to be this,” he said with a sigh, “then it’s going to be a really poor decision. I hope they picked me because I can do the job. But it doesn’t matter. I am going to try.
“The players want to play, they want success and if you convince them that this is the way to have success then it doesn’t matter.
“Coaching is about knowledge and we (he and Rossi, who are long-time friends from the same small town, Apecchio, in Italy) have built our career on learning, studying. . . eating soccer, sleeping soccer and so this job is another challenge.”
He has, at least, been impressed by what he has seen of the players in his first few sessions with them and believes they will respect his commitment and then come to appreciate that he knows what he is talking about.
“It is a strong group of players. They have already started to show me that,” he said. “When we trained they worked like animals. They were getting everything that we were suggesting so fast. . . so that means they are professional.
“I have to be honest with you. . . I didn’t know the league, but I started to study the league as soon as I had the first conversation. The only thing I know (about Ireland) is where I sleep and the club. It’s been 48 hours now. I come here and I go home to sleep. That’s all I’ve done and it’s all I’m going to do for three months... I promise you. I’m going to get them to put a mattress here for me.”
Asked what it might be possible for him to deliver in that time, he smiles and says: “They told me to win everything...as simple as that. Everything is possible but nine points are nine points. We have Shamrock at home. Let’s see how we do. If they do really well then the title is in their hands but if they rest a little...”
First up will be Cobh Ramblers in the FAI Cup this weekend. Giovagnoli describes the game as: “a step but the Europa League is something that we can build with and it something that the club is really focussed on. But this game is important to us.”
And what happens if a call comes from above with suggestions on his selection?
“I don’t think it’s going to happen,” he says. “This is not the deal that we have. I decide. I am the manager.”