KENNY SHIELS believes Patrick McEleney has made the wrong decision in choosing to leave Derry City, claiming he would have got the best out of the player had he remained at the Brandywell club.
McEleney (23) is poised to join either Dundalk or St Patrick’s Athletic and is currently mulling over offers from both clubs, however, Shiels was ‘disappointed’ the player rejected a contract offer from his hometown club and admits he now faces a ‘big challenge’ in his bid to replace the player.
The ‘Candy Stripes’ are set to receive a compensation fee which will equate to one year of the player’s gross salary and Shiels is hoping he can bring in someone who can fill the huge void left by McEleney’s departure.
“Patrick is a good boy and I think I’m the right person to help him at the moment,” said Shiels. “But unfortunately it’s not going to happen.
“I’m really disappointed,” added the Derry boss. “I’m not disappointed in Patrick, I’m just disappointed for Patrick because I feel myself and my management team would have been the perfect fit for him.
“From a footballing point of view I think it’s not the best move for Patrick but it’s one he’s made and I respect that.
I feel disappointed for Patrick. If he was my son I would stress for him to stay at Derry City to help him improve his game further.Kenny Shiels
“If he wanted to further his career then this is the right place to do that. I’m not being critical of Patrick but my experience tells me it’s not in his best interests to move elsewhere. I really want him to do well. We wish him all the best.
“But I feel disappointed for Patrick. If he was my son I would stress for him to stay at Derry City to help him improve his game further.”
McEleney was disappointed with the offer tabled by Derry City and felt the club didn’t go out of their way to keep him on Foyleside. However, Shiels insists Derry did everything in their power to offer the best possible terms in the hope of retaining his services.
“The club have made him the best offer they could and you have to respect the financial situation of the football club,” continued Shiels. “We want to develop players and keep within the remit of the budget.
“The club stepped outside of its boundaries to try and keep him. We can’t compete with those clubs (Dundalk and St Pat’s) financially. The only way we can compete is the way in which we treat our players and how we progress our players. Those are the areas in which we can compete with Dundalk and St Pat’s. We can’t compete with the financial terms they offer but we can more than compete in getting the player to fulfil his maximum potential.”
The search for McEleney’s replacement begins now and Shiels understands it will prove a difficult task.
“It’s going to be a big hole to fill but it’s a challenge to me,” he said. “We need to get players in certain positions and Patrick’s position is one of them. So I have to try and work the oracle to get someone in. It’s not easy!”