Dean Shiels heads into the final match of the season tomorrow with mixed emotions.
Just over two months into his first managerial job at Dungannon Swifts, the former Northern Ireland international would love to keep pushing his new charges on the training ground as he instils his football philosophy at Stangmore Park.
He is, however, hungry to get his teeth into a key aspect of the job, the summer transfer window, admitting that his squad is bereft of experience and the mental fortitude that brings.
“I think everyone knows that we need experience and I am working hard on that recruitment side,” admitted Shiels ahead of tomorrow’s battle with high-scoring Glenavon.
“I think we have to be stronger when the ball is turned over. I think it’s a mentality when we play so much good football and we hurt teams and then we are vulnerable if we go behind.
“That’s when I am thinking ‘do we have the mentality to react and go and win the game’ and we haven’t shown that.
“It’s probably a confidence thing from a team that hasn’t won many games and a consequence of playing a very young team with a handful of teenagers in it who haven’t developed that know-how, the streetwise streak to see games out. We have to grow up quickly.”
Shiels has adopted an attractive style of play with the Swifts. With the threat of relegation not hanging over them he has had less pressure to get results, but he is now at the stage where both need to come together.
The team is ahead of where he thought they might be so early in his spell in charge, meaning Shiels is looking forward with optimism.
“I’ve been really pleased with some of our play and then I’ve been really disappointed with other parts, and it’s been like that since I came in,” said Shiels.
“I didn’t think that we would play as good football as what we are. I thought it would take a bit longer to implement the style of play.
“I’m not happy with results, but I’m happy with a lot of performances.”