Sport League of Ireland

Monday 19 August 2019

We must find rhythm in attack - McEleney

Dundalk's Patrick McEleney. Photo: Seb Daly/Sportsfile
Dundalk's Patrick McEleney. Photo: Seb Daly/Sportsfile

Aidan Fitzmaurice

The manager of Dundalk's next opponents on the European stage knows that the price of failure in Europe is the sack.

And as the Lilywhites prepare for their next bout of activity in UEFA competition, they know that the reward for progress could, potentially, be a mouth-watering clash with Ajax.

But as key midfielder Patrick McEleney admits, for success to happen in Europe, the Oriel Park side need to be sharper up front.

"I think there is more to come from us and we can be a bit better going forward," says McEleney.

"We do need to be better going forward to beat these teams. We can do better and it's up to us to do that."

The Dundalk squad arrived here in Slovakia last night ahead of the first leg of their Europa League tussle with Slovan Bratislava tomorrow, a club who decided that defeat in the first qualifying round, to opposition from Montenegro, was not acceptable so their league-winning manager was sacked and has been replaced, temporarily, by the club's reserve team boss.

Apart from UEFA prize money of €300,000 (which would take total earnings this season to €1.5 million) there's a big prize at the end of the Dundalk-Slovan tie as the winner of that one play the losing side in the Champions League qualifier between Ajax and Greek outfit PAOK.

"It'd be nice to get Ajax and maybe play it in the Aviva, and go to the Amsterdam Arena, but we have to take care of this round first," Derry native McEleney said last night.

"Ajax would be expected to get through, they got to the Champions League semis last season and they have had a great pre-season so they seem to be flying, you'd fancy their chances of winning their round.

"But even to play PAOK would be something to aim for.

"I don't know if we would get to play them in the Aviva but as a player, you like rewards for doing well and that'd be a nice bonus," he added.

"But we can't think too much about that, we need to focus on Slovan."

The informal feedback on their opponents is that Slovan are a threat going forward but have weaknesses at the back, Dundalk boss Vinny Perth admitting that predicting the opponents' line-up is not easy.

"In their last six matches they have played three different shapes, their personnel tends to change," says Perth.

"Slovan have some good players, though their manager got sacked recently so that's a sign that they expect to do well in the Champions League."

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