Thursday 21 February 2019

It's not Rover and out

Bradley not fearful of sack but looks for lift

Staying positive: Shamrock Rovers striker Graham Burke reacts during that game
Staying positive: Shamrock Rovers striker Graham Burke reacts during that game

If things had gone according to plan, David Moyes would still have one full season left on the contract he signed to manage Manchester United.

Plans and projects don't always work out in football, no matter what league is involved, and that message will be one swirling around the heads of all concerned at Shamrock Rovers, as Ireland's most successful club endures a most unsuccessful run.

With three defeats in a row, four losses in the last five and six defeats in their 12 league games, this is a trying time for the club.

Success has been hard to find: since Stephen Kenny was sacked in 2012 Rovers have had four managers, including incumbent Bradley, and landed just one trophy (League Cup 2013). Kenny has won six trophies with Dundalk.

Rovers have insisted time and again that they are playing a long game and not in it for short-term gain, insisting that they are building a club that will last.

And manager Bradley, who was booed by a section of the Rovers support after last week's home defeat to Bohemians, but was applauded after Monday's 1-0 loss away to Bray, says he retains faith in himself, his players and the Rovers "project".

"No, not at all," Bradley responded when asked if he felt his job was in danger.

"I don't use the Project as an excuse, I know what we have to do, I am fully confident in this group and what we are building as a group, 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'. I know I am at a big club and you have to win games, I get that. I have understood that from the start, I believe in the project and what we are doing, but that still doesn't excuse losing three games in a row.

"It's not acceptable, we don't use that as a fall-back or an excuse. That has always been the goal, but it doesn't give me any leeway to say it's okay to lose three games," added the 33-year-old, at the helm of Rovers since 2016.

"We deserve every bit of criticism we get, the players, myself, when you are at Shamrock Rovers and you lose three games in a row it's not good enough, not acceptable."

Rovers have a few problems to contend with. Losing to Cork City and Dundalk, while not pleasant, can be accepted and explained away. But losing to a Bohemians side who had failed to score in three of their previous four league games, and to a Bray outfit who had lost nine in a row before they played the Hoops, is harder to deal with.

Issues remain, and although keeper Kevin Horgan - under fire recently - has been one of their better players in the two latest defeats, the goalkeeping position remains a problem for Rovers. Not since Alan Mannus left in 2011 have they had a truly convincing stopper.

"We need to keep working hard, keep our heads down and cut out the silly errors. I believe in the group and come the end of the season I think we will be fine, but at this moment we need to cut out the errors and be harder to play against," Bradley added.

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