NINE points from 11 games might constitute a crisis in some peoples eyes but Dundalk FC boss Sean McCaffrey says his side are just one point of his projected target for the first round of games.
McCaffrey was speaking after his side went down 2-0 to Bray Wanderers on Friday night, a result that leaves Dundalk second from bottom, but McCaffrey denied there was a crisis, saying that he expected his side to make a slow start to the season.
“I’d agree that second from bottom is not good enough but I don’t think it’s a crisis yet. In terms of points I didn’t think we would have much more. After 10 matches, I would have been happy with 10 points. In the next third of games our target would have been 15 points and then maybe 20 in the final round to consolidate our position in the division.
“I’m disappointed we’re second from bottom but I’m more concerned about the way we are playing at Oriel Park.”
Dundalk have won just one game from five at home to date. More worryingly perhaps is that they have scored in just one of those games, the 2-1 win over UCD in March.
McCaffrey said it was important that the side improved their home form and he called on the supporters to make Oriel Park a more intimidating place for the opposition.
“I’d like to see a wee bit more real support behind the team. Oriel Park is a silent place. I know it’s up to the team to inspire the crowd but a bit more vocal support from the crowd would help. This is not a hostile place to come to. Teams are not scared when they are on the ball. There’s no noise when we get the ball. When we went to Cork last week we couldn’t get instructions 10-yards on to the pitch, there was that much noise. It’s the same in Drogheda and it’s the same in Derry.
“I’m not blaming the fans”, he added. “I understand their frustration but at the same time it works both ways. It’s up to the players to inspire the crowd with their performance but sometimes it would be very helpful if the crowd would give them some more urgency and backing.
“I’d prefer if our games were away because we haven’t played well at Oriel Park in one match. We played well in Derry, we played well in Sligo and we played well in Cork. Every time we play at Oriel Park we are poor.”
McCaffrey also hit back when it was put to him that Ian Foster finished last season with a similar budget (7k) and a much more experienced team.
Speaking before the Shelbourne match on April 6, Communications Manager Colm Crosson said that McCaffrey’s budget was over 7k a week but the Dundalk manager said these figures were “rubbish”.
“He (Ian Foster) didn’t have a budget of 7k, he had 9.5k. We have 6k. There are people putting it out that we have the same budget as last year. That’s absolute rubbish. Take a look at the accounts at the end of the season and tell me they are the same. Jason Byrne was on p875 a week last year. Our two highest paid players would be on around that.
“It’s not a youth project”, he added. “I didn’t set out to have a youth project at Oriel Park. I set out with a budget we had to work with. Eight of the players who played for St Pat’s here earlier in the season, we tried to get. We just can’t compete with the other teams for wages.”
Next up for Dundalk is the visit of Roddy Collins’ Monaghan United in a basement battle on Friday night.
McCaffrey expects Liam Burns to recover from the ear infection that sidelined him against Bray. Marc Griffin is to be assessed after making his first appearance of the season as a 73rd minute sub but Luke Danville is expected to be out for around six to eight weeks with a knee injury.
“There’s not many changes we can make”, said McCaffrey. “We don’t have a stack of injuries and we’re nor far off our strongest team.