Belfast Telegraph

Losing McAree is a huge blow to Dungannon but Coleraine job too big to reject: Harpur

 

By Graham Luney

Dungannon Swifts captain Ryan Harpur has admitted he understands why the Coleraine job proved a big attraction to Rodney McAree.

The Bannsiders will announce the Swifts supremo as their new manager this evening.

McAree guided the Tyrone side to their first senior trophy when they claimed the League Cup in February and opted to stay at Stangmore Park when Glentoran showed an interest after Gary Haveron’s departure but Coleraine tabled an offer he couldn’t refuse.

While former Bannsiders boss Oran Kearney prepares for his first game in charge of St Mirren at home to Scottish champions Celtic tonight, the Irish Cup winners have moved quickly to land McAree.

Harpur accepts McAree’s exit is a huge loss to the Swifts but he knew the lure of winning major silverware and making history at Coleraine was likely to entice the 44-year-old into a new challenge on the north coast.

“There’s no doubt the boys will miss him,” said Harpur. “We are a very close group and probably even more so since Rodney’s second spell in charge.

“He signed me in his first spell before Darren Murphy took over but since his second spell the group became even closer.

“To lose Rodney as a manager is a huge blow to the club. All the lads are very fond of him.

“Coleraine have a lot of good players and there’s a reason why they are challenging at the top of the table.

“Last year they were just pipped to the title but they will look to go one better this time and looking at their squad there is no reason why they can’t.

“I can see why Rod has decided to get involved in that and maybe help Coleraine win the league title for the first time since 1974.

“To be the next manager to bring them a league title is a very appetising challenge for him.

“Rodney has put together a team which tries to play football the right way and if someone else came in, would the new manager want to play football in the style that suits our players?

“The League Cup win last season was special but over the last two seasons we should have finished in the top six at least once.

“I’m sure Rod is disappointed with that but the Cup win was fantastic and it’s only right that he got recognition for that and Coleraine would show interest.

“Rod and I are very close and get on very well but he’s like his dad Joe and when he’s upset you wouldn’t want to stand in his way.

“There is a line you can’t cross but he has a great relationship with the players, he even feels like one of the lads but if there’s a telling off to be given out he’ll do it and the players will take notice. Rod doesn’t take any nonsense.”

The Swifts travel to Premiership leaders Linfield tomorrow, still searching for their first league win of the campaign.

“We just aren’t scoring enough,” added Harpur. “We are playing well until the final third but can’t get the ball in the net.

“Soft goals aren’t helping but we still believe in ourselves and once the chances go in we’ll move up the table. We need Daniel Hughes fit again and firing.”

Belfast Telegraph

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