FORMER Cobh Ramblers manager Stephen Henderson has said he would be open to returning into coaching at League of Ireland level.
At the helm when Cobh won the 2007 First Division title, Henderson in his most recent managerial stint at Ramblers guided the club to the 2018 EA Sports Cup final, beating the now Irish manager Stephen Kenny’s Dundalk along the way.
In more recent times, Henderson was with Shelbourne as their Head of Youth Development.
Speaking to The Echo, Henderson said he still has the passion and desire to work in League of Ireland football.
“I miss that, I miss the coaching side of it. I want to get back into coaching, I don’t care if it as a manager or whatever.
“I really enjoyed the coaching up with the Shelbourne academy. I just want to get back into it but just work on the coaching side of it.
“I just want to get back. I can see how to improve players and I know how to improve players.
“Please God, we just have to wait and see.
There are not many gigs around the country, so at this moment in time, there’ll be nothing there.
“But if something comes up, we will see what happens.”
How he does he think his former side Ramblers will fare under Stuart Ashton in the 2021 First Division campaign?
“Stuart has done a really good job there let’s be honest because outside of possibly Treaty and Wexford, Ramblers would have (one of the) lowest budgets in the league and are really depending on young players.
“Stuart has gone with young players and has given them an opportunity. In fairness what you could say about every one of those Ramblers players is that they would run through a brick wall for that badge. That is a testament to how good Stuart is.
“If he can keep that squad of players there for another one or two seasons, then you will start getting the benefits out of it.
“So it is a real battle and if Stuart could get them to the playoffs it would be a fantastic achievement. They probably shouldn’t have been shouting to the clouds off about going for promotion, that is something you can keep amongst yourselves.
“Because if you shout to the clouds like that and end up not performing, you are leaving yourselves open to criticism.
“If you look at the First Division table now from say Cobh Ramblers to the top, is there a huge difference? In reality, no there is not.
“I don’t think the teams people expected to show huge amounts of quality, have shown that quality yet.
“But at this moment in time, you can literally go I would not be surprised if Cobh Ramblers beat Shelbourne next week.”
The League of Ireland First Division is arguably the most keenly contested it has been for quite a long time.
It can be a tough division to get out of at the best of times, as Henderson can relate to from his time at clubs such as Cobh. But looking at how he expects the 2021 First Division promotion race to pan out, he feels that UCD have been the best side he has seen so far:
“The team I have been most impressed with so far has been UCD. They really have a definitive style of play.
“There is a clear way that they try to create goals and have two exceptional goalscorers. I don’t think any team, outside of UCD and Athlone, have really established their style of play yet.
“The likes of Treaty United have done phenomenal under Tommy Barrett and Athlone under Adrian Carberry.
“They have taken advantage of the slow start from the likes of Bray, Galway and Cork. There are good teams in it, but every team is beatable.
“What full-time is doing for Colin Healy is giving these younger players the extra contact time, more information and more experience.
“Cork City started off a bit gung ho and there was a little bit of arrogance about them. I thought Cobh were the better team and should have won the game on the opening night.
“In fairness to Colin, he has used his experience and thought we have to go back to basics here and have a good understanding of what our roles are with and without the ball.
“Cork have gone 'anything we earn here we are going to have to earn', by going back to basics and grow from there.
I am absolutely delighted for Beneoin O’Brien-Whitmarsh, who is a top talent by the way, that he got himself on the scoresheet.”
Henderson has been in and around one of the main promotion contenders in more recent times during his role at Shelbourne.
The Reds make the trip next weekend to take on Ramblers at St Colman’s Park.
As to how he feels Ian Morris’s Shels side will fare in the 2021 campaign, Henderson feels they should be thereabouts in the title picture:
“When I went to watch Shels playing Cork City, they reverted to a back four. When they did that, they understood their positions and their transitions.
“I think if you can finish above UCD, you win the league that is the way it is looking at the moment. But if I was to go for any of the other teams who could do that, it would be Shelbourne.”
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