Eddie Patterson finally completed his first piece of transfer business of the summer yesterday — 24 hours ahead of the big kick-off.
On the eve of the opening match of the Carling Premiership campaign away to Ballymena United this afternoon, the Cliftonville manager revealed the reasons why he could do little else but sit and watch as other clubs added to their ranks during the close season.
In contrast, the Reds’ boss only finalised Ciaran Caldwell’s move from Donegal Celtic at the last minute.
“We didn’t make it back into Europe and that meant that the club didn’t hit the financial targets that we’d hoped to,” said Patterson.
“The Irish Cup final defeat to Crusaders played a part in that as well.
“If we’d won there would have been some extra prize money coming our way and that would have helped.
“I’ve had to try to move players out this season as we’ve had to trim our budget and I’ve been prepared to work with the club to live within our means.”
Caldwell’s capture may be the Reds’ only signing, but it is one that will strengthen their squad, given that he has Premiership quality with their cross-town rivals and was tracked by West Bromwich Albion just over a year ago.
He also fits into the policy that Patterson has adopted in recent times at Solitude.
“Over the last while we’ve tried to develop our young players and bring them into the first-team when they are ready,” said Patterson.
“There is my own son Mark, Liam Boyce, Ryan Dunlop, Mark Clarke and Mark Brown who are all around the late teens, early 20s mark and have made progress.
“Ciaran Caldwell fits into that bracket at 19-years-old and he’s a signing that gives us strength at the back as I plan to play him at centre-half.”
Some of that crop of talented youngsters can expect to see some early action for the Reds, with no fewer than three players out suspended this afternoon, plus injuries and the unavailability of others.
It is a scenario that Patterson has become all too used to as last season his squad was left threadbare at times as the Solitude dressing room was blighted by injuries.
“We have Mark Holland, Declan O’Hara and George McMullan suspended for the first three matches,” said Patterson.
“David McAlinden isn’t fit yet, Conor Downey has a niggle, Ronan Scannell is still on holiday and although we have Chris Scannell available for the Ballymena game, he heads to Spain on Sunday for a family wedding and won’t be available for another week after that and Ronan will be with him.
“That’s six or seven players we are without, but we can only get on with it and manage as best we can.
“Last season we finished sixth and a few years ago the fans would have been delighted with that.
“Such is the expectation level after finishing third twice that it was disappointing.”