Derry City: 'Not good enough, hope to do better' - Devine's honest assessment of 2020 season

Declan Devine
Devine was appointed as Derry City manager for a second spell in November 2018

Derry City manager Declan Devine has candidly admitted that self-reflection over his own contribution to the club's disappointing 2020 season has led him to conclude that it "was not good enough".

The second year of Devine's second spell in charge saw the Candystripes flirt with a relegation play-off and ultimately finish seventh in the League of Ireland Premier Division.

While emphasising that others must take their share of the blame for an under-par campaign, Devine says he "takes a huge chunk of responsibility as the person responsible for the team that takes to the pitch on a weekly basis".

"Self reflection must come into it in terms of what I've done at the club this year and from my own point of view it wasn't good enough. If I'm assessing myself it would read 'Not good enough, hope to do better' but I'm going to fight to get this club back to where it belongs.

"The season was a wasted opportunity. The start of the year promised much but it ended with very little."

Devine was appointed to his second term in charge of the club in November 2018 in succession to Kenny Shiels, having led the club to an FAI Cup victory in his first spell at the helm.

The 2019 season yielded a Europa League place thanks to a fourth-place finish, but Derry exited that competition at the first qualifying round stage, losing 3-2 to Lithuanian outfit FK Riterai in August.

Any hopes of ending the present campaign with silverware were dashed when Devine's charges lost to Sligo Rovers in a penalty shootout in the quarter-finals of the FAI Cup.

'There weren't enough people working hard'

"There were certain outside factors in terms of building a team which conspired against us, obviously the effects of the pandemic, the long break which didn't help in terms of trying to gel so many new players in the group," argued Devine.

"Circumstances have been such that there has been no team environment where we could build up a rapport.

"We missed getting people into the gates, we missed a local identity in the group this year. There just weren't enough people working hard for the success of the football club."

Colm Horgan and Junior Ogedi-Uzokwe
Derry City's Colm Horgan and ex-player Junior Ogedi-Uzokwe - now with Sligo Rovers - in action during the recent FAI Cup quarter-final

Recruitment policy needs to be addressed

Derry City chairman Philip O'Doherty has indicated that a review of the structures of the north-west club is underway, with Devine believing that recruitment is one area which needs to be addressed.

"Players have come and gone regularly over the last 10 years, players have been brought in that didn't have an affinity for the club. That has been a major problem for us," said Devine.

"This season integrating players into the city and the club was a major difficulty - it was a season in which we never hit the highs we expected and that is ultimately why we finished where we finished.

"You have to work with the players available to you, the players you can afford, while still developing our own players. Those are the challenges we face.

"In my first season we were fortunate that a lot of the gambles we took on players paid off for us. This year's gambles didn't pay off for certain reasons.

"The decisions are going on behind the scenes at the moment as to how we fix our structures and never have to rely on outside agencies to provide us with players."

'We have to build our football club'

Devine believes the club developing their own players and bringing on board those with an affinity for the Brandywell outfit represent the way forward.

"We have to build up our football club - we've invested heavily in fantastic coaches at Academy level that are potentially going to produce players for this club moving forward.

"Those players aren't just there yet and I didn't want to throw in players who weren't ready but my plan is still to help build the club so that whoever is manager is working off a platform that everyone at the club and connected with the club has bought into.

"We all want young and local players in the squad and to be challenging for silverware but it's not a magic switch.

"It will never happen again in my tenure that we lose the games in the manner that we did last year."

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