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'I have a few knives in my back that I want to take away' - Dundalk boss wants to silence doubters in €3million clash

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Dundalk interim head coach Filippo Giovagnoli. Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

Dundalk interim head coach Filippo Giovagnoli. Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

SPORTSFILE

Dundalk interim head coach Filippo Giovagnoli. Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

Dundalk boss Filippo Giovagnoli has admitted he is motivated by the chance to silence the doubters who poured scorn on his appointment as his side face into their Europa League date with destiny.

The Italian leads his side into tonight's Aviva Stadium encounter with Faroese underdogs KI Klaksvik knowing that victory would be a spectacular vindication of his month's work since his arrival.

Dundalk owners Peak6 tasked Giovagnoli with European progress when he was unveiled as the left field successor to Vinny Perth, a move that stunned outside observers, and the club will collect an extra €3m if they succeed in this one off tie.

The 49-year-old noted the derision that greeted his arrival and suggested certain comments had fired him up.

"I have a few knives in my back that I want to take away," he said.

"It’s going to come some day. It is what it is. This is soccer, this is life. You have to accept they are sceptical about you. They were right. I came here. Nobody knows me. I accept it.

"Of course I know (who said what), it's part of my motivation every day. I'm always kind and gentle with everyone."

Giovagnoli, who was waiting to return to his job in youth football in America when Dundalk called, has asserted this is the biggest game of his career and he has spoken with his players about the lifechanging potential.

However, he does not believe that it will have the final say on his Dundalk future, although he explained bluntly how the US hierarchy made it clear that the Europa League was the clear priority when they hired him on a short term deal.

"When they appointed me, they were only talking about September 17," he said, the date of Dundalk's second round tie with Andorran side Inter Club, a tie they won to set up last Thursday's dramatic penalty shootout win over Sheriff Tiraspol.

"This was all they were asking about. September 17, September 17, that's it and I arrived on August 24. They were reminding me always about September 17. Now we are at October 1, so we did something."

Giovagnoli has to plan without his suspended skipper Chris Shields for tonight's encounter, but indicated that Patrick McEleney might be in line for a bigger role after he recovered from injury to feature off the bench against Sheriff.

He also faces a decision in defence with Andy Boyle back from a ban and looking to break up the Brian Gartland and Daniel Cleary pairing that did the job in the previous round.

The manager has noted Klaksvik's capability on the counter attack and has warned against underestimating the away side, while repeating his view that Dundalk will reach for the group stages if they perform to their potential.

Irish Independent