By Gerard Mulreaney (@gerardmulreaney)
Andy Myler has returned to the club he started his senior footballing career 25 years ago, taking up the reigns as manager of UCD for the 2020 season.
He replaces Maciej Tarnogrodski at the helm of the students, after they found themselves relegated to the First Division following a tumultuous season at the top level of Irish Football.
Myler, who had been coaching the colleges and Universities league sides, was glad to be back: “I’m delighted, it’s great to get the opportunity. It’s a fantastic club. I know from being a player, and from going back there as a player and stuff, and even getting involved again with the club the past couple of years. Yeah, I’m delighted to do it. I was always interested, even as a player, in the coaching side of the game.
“I always wanted to be a manager, and be a coach, but didn’t know it would be at UCD. It’s just the way it’s panned out. It’s an absolutely fantastic club to be able to come into, as it is as a player actually. It’s a fantastic place to come and play football and a fantastic place to start off my managerial career as well.”
As a club, UCD have a college-only philosophy with their players, and don’t usually sign players outside of that. I asked Myler if that philosophy would remain the same: “The club have a philosophy in terms of, the playing panel will always come from within the university. They’ll be UCD students. That’s the way we’ll continue to work. You’ve got guys like Josh Collins in there, Even Osam, Paul Doyle from last year as well.
“These guys have played games in the league and there’s other guys that are starting out. I’m completely comfortable with the club’s philosophy. We don’t try and sign guys from around the league. Guys who are in college, in the community, that’s the model and that’s what we’ll keep on bashing away with.”
Regarding Evan Osam, who ruptured his Achilles in pre-season training last year, Myler confirmed that the defender is set to return to the fold for 2020: “Evan will be fine for the start of next season. He’ll be straight back in for pre-season, so really looking forward to that for the group. It will probably feel like a new player. Those guys like Evan and Josh will have that little bit of experience, they’ll be really important for us next year.
“To be honest I’m really looking forward to it. I think we’ve got a really good bunch of young players. Obviously, some of the lads would’ve moved on to other things. Last year a couple have gone to Pats, a couple to Rovers, a couple to Cork. But the new group that’s coming in I’m really excited to work with them. I think we’ve got some really good talent, some that were with the team last year, and with guys coming in as well, I think we’ll do ok.”
So, what can supporters expect of the team in 2020: “The ambition is a really boring one, just to get as many performances out of the guys to perform to a level for as many weeks as we possibly can. If that means that we finish mid-table or we win the league, so be it. With young players, the key part is to actually get that consistency of performance, and that’s what we’ll really be pushing for. We’re not going to talk about winning leagues or coming last, or anything like that. We’ll just take things week to week.”
UCD is probably the only club in the country where any pressure on the manager will come from within, rather than from the terraces, something Myler appreciates: “I would put enough pressure on myself for 1000 fans. We unfortunately don’t have that at UCD. We don’t have the large support base that might be screaming for my head if things don’t go well at the start. We as a coaching group, and as a playing group, have to have the drive ourselves to succeed. You have to have that internal pressure of trying to be the best you can be. The pressure for doing well at UCD will only ever come from within, so you’ve got to make that work.”
The club have been known to play attractive football, and the new manager wants that to continue: “Absolutely. Collie and Maciej’s team played fantastic football; they were a really good team to watch. From our end of things, myself and Ian next year, we won’t be trying to change too much of that. We may have a slightly different take on bits and pieces, but we’ll still absolutely look to play football. The club always have, that’s the philosophy, and I think it suits the type of player we have and will attract.
“Younger players probably look to do that. I think even the way guys are coached now throughout their schoolboy careers, they’re a lot more comfortable with that approach, in terms of trying to play football. We won’t be changing the dial on that too much. I think next year if you see a UCD team it will still be a team that loves to play football.”