United expecting tricky test in Athlone

John Caulfield believes his United team will develop in 2021

Galway United manager John Caulfield is expecting a tricky SSE Airtricity League first division test against Athlone at Lissywoolen tomorrow evening, kick off 7.45pm.

Athlone, managed by former United player Adrian Carberry, have made several prominent signings in the close season drawing away to UCD last weekend.

At the same time United divided the spoils with favourites Shelbourne at Eamonn Deacy Park, but Caulfield is completely aware that the 2021 first division is particularly strong.

“Absolutely, that is the one thing and I'm constantly saying this, maybe certain people don't want to hear it, but you have no easy games,” Caulfield says.

“You get to this level of football, senior League of Ireland football, you will have no easy games. Every game is hard, tough. The days of teams winning easily are long gone. I said it last year in the short period I took over and you can see this season you have six teams out of 10 that have invested very heavily, all of them hoping to get the one automatic promotion spot.

“So the standard is going to be high and also the competitiveness is going to be there. That is the beauty about sport, the day you don't perform is the day you get done. If you underestimate someone you get done.

“We are working very hard with the lads to make sure week in, week out that we can give a high performance.

“If we can do that as a manager that is all I can ask for. If we do that I believe we will win a lot of games, but we know how difficult it is. Athlone will be an incredibly tough game, it is a local derby.”

United’s starting XI for the Shelbourne tussle featured nine players who weren’t at the club in 2020 so patience will be required according to Caulfield.

“We have a new team, but the attitude of the lads has been brilliant,” Caulfield says. “The disappointing thing is that we didn't take our chances, but overall it was a highly competitive game.

“We know Shels' strengths, they were very strong and aggressive, but our lads matched them. It was the first game of the season, there was probably a bit of nerves, we didn't play as well in the opening 20 minutes, but I thought after that we were very good.

“For all of the work we've done in pre-season going into the first game I was very happy coming away because the lads have shown the work they've done carried to the pitch.”

Caulfield remains adamant about the potential that exists within the United squad. “People think that you just click your fingers and things happen, you can't, you have to work incredibly hard,” Caulfield states.

“Players have come to this club ultimately because of myself as I have shown them the plan. Certain players could be in the premier division, but they came because they saw a plan in place, a structure I'm trying to put in. The full-time training, where I see the club can get to, but it does take time.

"Anyone thinking otherwise doesn't understand the game. I know the game inside out, I can tell you from the players we have attracted to the club, the foundations we have put in I can see this is the start of a journey.

“I'm convinced the team and club can progress to challenge for stuff, but it takes time. We are starting at the very beginning, but the good thing is and the optimism is that good structures are in place.

“A good panel of players have been brought together, it might take a bit of time for them to gel, but I'm very happy with the players we have. Throughout the season people will see that this team is going to be a good team.”


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