With European football on the horizon for the 2020 season, Derry City have made some impressive strides during the off-season. As well as the normal comings and goings, the announcement from the club that Chairman Phillip O'Doherty has increased th
With European football on the horizon for the 2020 season, Derry City have made some impressive strides during the off-season.
As well as the normal comings and goings, the announcement from the club that Chairman Phillip O'Doherty has increased the playing budget by 30% is a huge step forward for the Candystripes and should excite supporters ahead of the 2020 campaign.
In fact, this season will see the largest playing budget at the Brandywell during O'Doherty's time at the club as Derry look to close the gap on the likes of Dundalk and Shamrock Rovers.
It is a task manager Declan Devine is probably eager to embrace and an increase in playing budget would be welcomed by anyone in his position. However, as we've seen in football at home and abroad all to often, an increased playing budget does not bring automatic success.
In fact, such an increase, if managed poorly, can create disharmony within the squad as new players get bigger contracts or it can lead to a bigger squad which could prove difficult to manage in terms of playing time during a campaign.
That's why the appointment of Paddy McCourt as Technical Director at the club is a masterstroke. With someone of McCourt's expertise and experience, who has already done incredible work with the under-age structures at the club and as U-13 Head Coach, helping cast an eye over the new signings and budget, Derry supporters should be confident this is an opportunity that won't be wasted.
It is a management model which has brought about great success for Shamrock Rovers. Head Coach Stephen Bradley has continually credited the work of Stephen McPhail, who works in a role similar to McCourts, for helping identify new players who fit within the club's playing philosophy. This structure ultimately led to their FAI Cup final success last season and will see them mount another title challenge in 2020.
As referenced earlier, the off-season represents a huge challenge for Devine and McCourt. Junior Ogedi-Uzokwe was last season's SSE Airtricity League Golden Boot winner with 14 goals but a return looks unlikely at this stage as the former loanee came on for Colchester United against Stevenage at the weekend.
Striker David Parkhouse, who was the club's top-scorer with 19 goals in all competitions last season, also looks like he won't be returning to the club at this stage so replacing Derry's frontline is the management's biggest challenge. Walter Figueira joins after his impressive spell at Waterford last season which helps bolster their striking options but new forward options should be incoming before the start of the campaign.
Greg Sloggett departed for Dundalk and will be a huge loss for the Candystripes but Devine has moved quickly to replace him. Former fans favourite Conor McCormack has joined on a two-year deal from Cork City and Conor Clifford joins from St. Patrick's Athletic which should give Devine plenty of options in central midfield.
Perhaps the most impressive bit of business done so far for the Candystripes is who they've been able to retain. Jamie McDonagh, Nathan Gartside, Darren Cole and Mark McChrystal have all signed new deals as well as Eoin Toal.
Toal, a Northern Ireland U-21 international, was one of the most impressive young defenders in the league last season and was being tracked by a number of clubs at home and overseas. It is a real statement of intent that Devine has been able to tie down the 20-year old for the upcoming campaign.
Whilst there is plenty of work still to be done to build a squad which could potentially challenge the top-two, the signings announced so far and the football structure should give Derry supporters every confidence that the increased budget will be put to good use.