Limerick FC Academy Director Willie John Boland has today been confirmed as Interim Manager of the senior side, and will make his debut in the dugout against St. Patrick’s Athletic this weekend. Speaking to LFC TV the former English Premier League midfielder reflected on the last few days.
“Initially it came as a bit of a shock. I was in UL on Monday morning and I know that Martin and the board were sitting down for their meeting. I went away home having done the stuff that I needed to do here. I got a phone-call to ask if I could come back out and that’s when I learned that Martin had departed. After a meeting with the club and the staff, it was decided I would take over on an interim period with Joe (Gamble –Strength & Conditioning Coach) and Eddie (Goalkeeping Coach) in their current roles as well going forward into the coming game against St. Pats.
“As a player, even though the manager has left the club, they have their own professional pride. They’re professional players, they understand how football works. It can be quite volatile especially in relation to the Managers position. So, they’ll be focused on the game no doubt about that. We trained yesterday and the boys trained very well, they had a focus about them. I think with the day off to let things settle down it will be a good opportunity to come in tomorrow and get focused on the game against St. Pats.”
The former Coventry City, Cardiff City, Hartlepool United, and Limerick FC midfielder built up a reputation throughout his career as a tough-tackling and battling leader on the pitch. His coaching philosophy, developed through his time with Middlesborough Under 14s and Hartlepool College, brings additional but different qualities in his new role.
“People would say I’m a little bit different from a coaching point of view. I’m not as abrasive. I will put my points across but I feel that the players at this moment in time that there’s a good bunch of lads there; there’s some good players at the club. There’s not an awful lot to be done except give them the belief they, which they have already, to go up to St. Pats and get a result. I think the players fully believe that they can go up there and get a result. So, we’ll do our best to get them prepared for that and get them set up for that game, going up there with a positive attitude to go and get a positive result.”
Having joined the Limerick FC one year ago, Boland has built positive relationships across the club with management, staff, and players throughout the different levels represented. We asked if he felt this has aided him in taking on the role in this transitional phase.
“I would say so. I think it’s an obvious scenario to look within in the interim period. People are in there and familiar with the players. Joe and Eddie have been there since the start of the season; they would have been there every game, every training session. Where as my role as Academy Director would be more focused on the underage groups. I am familiar with the players obviously, I’ve been to games, I’ve come out to training from time to time. It’s faces they recognize, faces that they are familiar with. We just need to give them the platform to go and continue to do what they’re doing, show more belief in what they’re doing. We’ve conceded goals in areas where we made mistakes, if we can just cut out those mistakes I think the lads have a good platform to go on and do well in the coming weeks.”
April sees a busy fixture list ahead for Limerick, starting the month with St. Pats this Friday evening and ending it with three matches in the space of a week. However, Boland remains focused on facing each challenge as it comes.
“I honestly can’t look that far ahead. I know you have to look at that scenario planning wise with traveling arrangements and training arrangements, of course you do and that will be in my mind. My sole focus at this moment in time is looking at the St. Pats game and getting the boys prepared for that game. There could be somebody in place by then, I know the club are on the look-out for a new manager so I’ve just got to concentrate on game-to-game situations. We’ll concentrate on St. Pats, we’ll get through that game with a positive result hopefully, we then concentrate on the Drogheda game. Once it gets closer to those games we’ll look at them a bit more closely then.”