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Being an OAP is not a block to LOI success, says reborn Rico

WE ARE constantly told that football management in the modern era is a young man's game.

Damien Richardson is about to find out if that's true, as he ends his six-year exile from the game proper and returns to face into a relegation battle with Drogheda United.

At 66, Richardson is by far the most senior boss in the league. The closest in terms of age is Liam Buckley (54) and apart from the St Pats boss and Sligo Rovers manager John Coleman (51), all of the other league managers are in their 40s, bar the spring chicken that is Bohemians chief Owen Heary (37).

"It's about ability, not age," says Richardson, who head into tonight's game at home to UCD with three training sessions under his belt as he tries to get to know his new players.

"I know that all the developments in coaching in the last few years, especially the pro-licence requirement, has fostered and encouraged young managers, but the main asset for a player is ability and the main asset for a coach is experience.

"I feel that I have both and that's why I have agreed to take this job. And I certainly don't feel that my age will be any sort of barrier to making this job at Drogheda a success.

"Two places are important in the game of football and in a manager's job: the training ground and the dressing room. I have had a couple of training sessions with the players and staff here already and I am already enthused by being back there, I see a real sense of excitement around the place," added Richardson, who has been out of club management since he left Cork City in 2007, though he has been back in a dugout since then, managing the Airtricity League XI over two summers.

A great deal has changed since Rico was last in the dugout for a League of Ireland game, at a time when issues like twitter and trolling were not on the agenda, but he feels he is still up for the task.

"Society has changed but the game is the same, still the same principles," he says. "

Life

"Social media is a part of life now and something managers have to deal with. You hear these cases of a player getting upset when he's been left out of the team, texting the team to his agent who then puts it out on twitter, these are all issues for coaches now.

"But I don't think it's a factor here, the players I see in the League of Ireland now are still grounded, still good lads, and I am not worried about matters like that."

A veteran at trhis stage, Richardon knows exactly what he has taken on at Drogheda - a glance at the stats shows that clearly, United losing 12 of their last 15 league games.

"I know what the aim is, we are not in a good situation in the league but I am aware of what my job is and what the task is," he says, the former Ireland international eyeing a possible FAI Cup run as well as the main aim of Premier Division survival.

It's rare for him to be in a relegation fight, as in his spells with Cork City (1993-95), Shelbourne (1995-98), Shamrock Rovers (1999-2002) and Cork again (2005-07), there was an expectation of silverware, which he sometimes delivered (one league title and three FAI Cups).

His only real taste of life at the bottom end was with Cobh Ramblers in 1995. "Cobh were more or less relegated when I went there so it was just a case of steadying the ship," he says.

"But for me the same things apply here as when I worked with other clubs and wanted to do well. You pick a team, you get organised, and you try to win matches. And I want to win matches for Drogheda United."


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