Bullish Kenny adamant he can lead Rovers out of crisis
STEPHEN KENNY insists he will be given time to turn things around at Shamrock Rovers, but the Hoops' boss could do with a win in Sunday's Dublin derby against St Patrick's Athletic to restore the board's faith that he remains the right man for the job.
While weekend rumours that the manager had either walked away or been sacked in the aftermath of Friday's 4-0 defeat to Bohemians proved premature, a second derby defeat in a row and further lost ground to Sligo Rovers might not be tolerated by the Rovers hierarchy.
Replacing Michael O'Neill was always going to be a tough task for any manager, but heavy defeats to Sligo (3-0), St Pat's (5-1) and bitter rivals Bohs have heaped pressure on the former Derry boss who took over in December.
Kenny is coming in for criticism from fans and pundits alike and the stats are mounting against him. His team were hot favourites to retain their league title this season, but find themselves fourth behind Drogheda United, eight points adrift of Sligo, having conceded 23 goals in 14 games.
They are the league's top scorers and have only lost three games, but it is the nature of the defeats that has stung. Amid talk of a lost dressing-room and a fractured team, Kenny insists he is the man to lead Rovers out of this "crisis."
"It wasn't a nice feeling for any manager, player or supporter," he said of Friday's defeat.
"I am only too aware of the rivalry, so I know it hits home more than most, that result. I am not naive, I understand the emotions involved.
"Listen, if I'm honest about it, last Friday, we deserved (criticism). There is very little defence to any criticism. I have to accept criticism. It's part and parcel of it.
"I have no problem with that. I have broad enough shoulders and that is not an issue. What we have to do is work hard for each other and put in a performance and try get a victory on Sunday.
"We have 16 games left. It is plenty of time to address the situation. I genuinely mean that, but Sunday's a big game for us. Pat's are going well, so we will have to be at our best and we can be."
Kenny cancelled his planned trip to Lithuania to watch Champions League opponents Ekranas' 3-2 win over Suduva over the weekend in the aftermath of the defeat, but, after more than a decade in management, the 40-year-old is well aware of the pressure that comes with the most high-profile domestic job available and he was not shocked to hear of rumours of his departure at the weekend.
"Nothing surprises me. The bottom line is that Shamrock Rovers appointed me because of my record in the league over the past few seasons," he said.
"We have lost three games. I am not happy that we have lost three games, I am not happy with the manner of the three defeats.
"But the bottom line is that we have lost three games and we have plenty of time to address those defeats, starting on Sunday against St Pat's. A big win there would get us back on track, definitely."
Kenny used Monday's 4-2 Leinster Senior Cup win over Shelbourne to tweak his formation to 4-3-3 and give some game time to fringe players. He has promised to wield the axe to his team after Friday and a number of those involved on Monday have played their way into the team.
"I will make the changes, some players played themselves into the team on Monday. We'll see about playing three in the middle. I appreciate the supporters who came to this game especially after a terrible night on Friday.
"I know people are calling it a crisis and all of that; we have only lost three games this season. We have got to get back to winning ways on Sunday."