Shiels ready to tackle 'simplistic' Dundalk
Something has got to give at Oriel Park tonight.
Both Dundalk and Derry City come into their Premier Division encounter off the back of seven straight victories in all competitions.
Stephen Kenny's hosts are top of the table because they have performed consistently across the season, whereas Derry chugged out of the blocks until the opening of the new Brandywell piqued their performance levels.
Kenny Shiels' side are third in the table and six off the top with a game in hand, although they have yet to play either Dundalk or Cork due to postponements.
This will be the toughest test they have faced this season and a scouting mission to Limerick on Tuesday confirmed Shiels' view of Kenny's outfit, although his observations may not quite tie in with the Dundalk manager's assessment of their main attributes.
"It's so simplistic how Dundalk play," said Shiels. "Their secret is, they make less mistakes than their opponent.
"Everybody knows their job. Everybody knows where to be and when to be. That was sticking out like a sore thumb. They didn't make a mistake in the game.
"We will make more mistakes than Dundalk, and there's a better chance of them winning the game. Maybe if an opponent gave them a tougher ride, they might make more mistakes.
"Everybody (at Dundalk) knows their job. It's the perfect picture of a team that has got discipline in how they play and how they are organised."
Shiels acknowledged that his side will have to adopt a different approach to their Brandywell strategy, with the Candystripes enjoying a 100pc record since moving back in.
He indicated that a good start would be pivotal, as Dundalk have the ability to flip to a different style if they are in control.
"They have two games within their game," he said. "The last half hour, they play totally different to the first hour. You've got to prepare in accordance of how their team play.
"With bravado, everybody comes out and says, 'It's about how we play' but it's about how you prepare to play."
Shiels was speaking on the LOI Weekly podcast, where he also expressed sympathy with under-pressure Shamrock Rovers boss Stephen Bradley - although it was countered by his belief that younger managers should really have started by gaining experience at a lower level. Bradley was out to face the media yesterday, calling on any worried fans to 'relax' after quick-fire defeats to Bohemians and Bray piled on the pressure.
"Look, I don't think there's much wrong, to be honest with you," said Bradley, ahead of Limerick's visit to Tallaght.
"We've had two bad results and I know they've been on top of each other but we just need to relax and focus and understand what we are and what we're good at. And go and win the game."
Hoops skipper Ronan Finn admitted that criticism comes with the territory and that scrutiny is part of why he enjoys playing for the club.
"If things are going wrong at Shamrock Rovers, people are quicker to jump on the bandwagon," he stressed, "If people didn't say it, they (Rovers) wouldn't matter.
"When someone knocks you, it's sink or swim, isn't it? You can crumble or you can go into a shell and step up, you can stick your chest out and demand more from yourself. Critics are going to be critics. They have a job to do.
"You have to take it on the chin," continued Finn, who said players have to accept the blame. He put his hands up for an error that gifted Bray their goal. "The manager has been brilliant with us and as players we've got to take responsibility," he said.
"We're the ones on the pitch. We're the ones that have got to take the hit on this. This is where your character has to step up."
Cork City visit Dalymount Park for the televised game, with Bohemians assistant Trevor Croly wary of any suggestions that the defending champions aren't playing particularly well at the moment.
"They are double winners and they are two points off the top," said Croly, who also guested on LOI Weekly. "Cork have got some fantastic players."
Waterford, meanwhile, have successfully appealed the bans handed down to Bastian Hery and Stanley Aborah for their role in the melee after their league win over City.
Aborah's ban has been reduced from six matches to four, with Hery's sanction cut from four matches to three. The duo have already served two game bans which means they will be able to come back into league contention next week - Hery will be available for Monday's EA Sports Cup clash with Cork.