Sunday 25 February 2018

Kenny hoping to take the pressure off by mounting title assault

Daniel McDonnell

Daniel McDonnell

STEPHEN KENNY faces the awkward situation of travelling to his former employers Derry City tomorrow night needing a victory to stave off the threat of the sack from his new job.

The pressure is on the Shamrock Rovers boss after a disastrous Champions League exit at the hands of Lithuanian side Ekranas on Tuesday night.

Progression through an extremely winnable European tie would have provided the Dubliner with some breathing space after a string of poor domestic performances.

The defending champions sit in fourth spot in the Premier Division table, 10 points behind leaders Sligo Rovers and, damningly, six behind a Drogheda United squad with minuscule resources in comparison.

There is an inevitability about Kenny's standing in the wake of the European loss and it is believed that the Rovers hierarchy are torn between taking action now or giving the Dubliner until the end of season.

In the wake of the defeat in Lithuania, Kenny stressed that his team were still in with a shout of securing a third successive league title.

dropped

Certainly, with two fixtures left against Sligo and points set to be dropped in the clashes between the top four, it is not inconceivable that the Hoops could mount a charge.

But the Rovers board must decide if a fresh voice in the dressing-room would give them a better chance -- and if there is actually a suitable candidate available who could radically improve things.

Kenny signed a three-year contract -- believed to be worth in the region of €90,000 per annum -- after he was recruited from Derry over the winter, and a termination would hit the coffers of the Tallaght club.

However, they are dealing with growing fan unrest and a negative result in the Brandywell would crank up the demands for instant change.

Before the game in Lithuania, a section of Rovers fans called for the appointment of Jim Magilton, who served as assistant to Michael O'Neill during their glorious European run 12 months ago.

Eight members of Tuesday's starting XI were part of that adventure and midfielder Stephen Rice stressed that the players need to look in the mirror.

"The manager is taking a lot of stick," he said. "Every player in that dressing-room has achieved things.

"We've worked hard over the last few years to build up a reputation in European football. For this club, it (Tuesday) has not been good enough."

Irish Independent

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