Swifts’ Dean Shiels mapping multiple transfer windows to build on summer start

Dean Shiels directed a double-figure tally of transfer dealings during the summer window but believes it may take multiple signing spells to realise his full Dungannon Swifts ambition.
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The Swifts head the three-strong pack including Portadown and Warrenpoint Town of sides currently cut adrift at the wrong end of the table.

Having enjoyed a derby double over Portadown, the Swifts tackle Carrick Rangers this weekend - the only other side without three points from meetings with Shiels’ squad.

Seven league games have divided the dates between that October success and today’s away test, with the Swifts failing to score in six and a four-goal blitz over the Ports the standout exception.

Dungannon Swifts boss Dean Shiels. Pic by PressEye Ltd.Dungannon Swifts boss Dean Shiels. Pic by PressEye Ltd.
Dungannon Swifts boss Dean Shiels. Pic by PressEye Ltd.

However, Shiels can point to shoots of progress following a demanding summer spell he viewed as vital in the aftermath of a March appointment to the Dungannon dugout.

“In the summer we had something like 15 players leave and eight come in, so we are trying to start off from scratch with a new team,” he said. “You are looking at getting it right in terms of all areas - the formula, results and youth development.

“But you can see players buying into the philosophy and it can take two or three transfer windows to get everything established.

“Once you have that stability it can come down to a case of two players in and two players out rather than mass changes.

“But you can only have that tweaking process once the stability has been put in place.

“But I’ve no problem with making those decisions, it had to be done in the summer.

“Definitely I look at this squad and see a big future.

“We’ve scored 20 goals overall in the league this season but just 22 over the whole of the last Premiership campaign.

“So progress is there.

“We can look back on missed chances in games against teams like Glenavon and Glentoran.

“Those big moments twist either way and become crucial, then at times we’ve been punished.

“But the goals return is no problem and, overall, I can see the development.

“Plus, when working with a young squad, you expect inconsistency.

“In the Glentoran match we had eight players under the age of 21 years old and probably the same against Glenavon.

“You cannot expect the same levels every week from young players but I have faith.

“In that October win we showed a lot of grit, it came down to hard work.

“Carrick is such a tough test so, thankfully, we managed to come out on top.

“It was about being able to grind it out but we are aware of the need for that to be at our best.

“You need that style of play in place first then you can build on the plan and progress.

“That’s how progress is made and points will come as a result but it can never just be about the points return.

“When everything is right you have the players buying into it - but we also know this league is about fighting and competing.”