Athlone must spend to compete says Collins
RODDY COLLINS claims that he turned down two job offers in the last month as he continues to plot both his and Athlone Town's comeback.
Promoted last Friday after a 17-year absence from Irish football's top flight, Athlone will sit down with Collins this week to finalise their budget for next season.
Retaining Collins (above), though, is their top priority. Having restored his reputation with this promotion – two years after guiding Monaghan United along a similar path – Collins is, as ever, aiming big.
He wants promises and wants cash – not enough to break the bank but enough to give him and Athlone a chance to compete in the Premier Division. If he doesn't get it, his next move could be away from the team he has just guided to the First Division title.
"I turned down a job on Friday from the English lower leagues," said Collins. "There was another offer a month ago and I said no to that too.
"I gave my word to these players and their parents at the start of the season that I would stay to the end. I've done that.
"I'm grateful to have the chance to succeed here because you have to remember that, pre-Monahgan, I was six and a half years out of the League of Ireland and there were a lot of trophies that I could have won in those years.
"If a club gives me a full season, I can achieve results. People go on about my record at Shamrock Rovers and Dublin City. Well, Rovers had a points deduction during my year there and Dublin City was a non-event.
"I've proved here that I can get the best out of a bunch of guys on peanuts. But I know the reality of the Premier Division, too. If you don't have the resources, there is no pleasure being there at all.
"It's not as if you need bucketloads of money. There are rough diamonds out there. Look at my track record. Paddy McCourt, Jason Gavin, Barry Murphy, Dave Mooney, Kevin Hunt, Glen Crowe were all brought into this league by me.
"Give me a few bob and I'll spend it wisely. I don't want to be going willy-nilly mad and putting the club in a terrible situation financially, but you have to be realistic. Drogheda proved you can be successful without having a massive budget."
While Drogheda, who are releasing Mick Cooke at the end of the season, is a possible destination for Collins, the likelier scenario is that he will stay with Athlone if they give him some money to spend.
"This is a brilliant football town. I got my break down here as a player under Turlough O'Connor, and he called me again to tell me about the managerial job," added Collins.
"When I was on the way home from that interview, I knew this was the place for me and I still believe that."