IRISH LEAGUE: Ex Carrick boss blasts club owner

Former Carrick Rangers manager Kieran Harding says his job became 'almost untenable'.

Tuesday, 27th September 2016, 6:08 pm
Updated Tuesday, 4th October 2016, 2:01 pm
Kieran Harding says people in top positions within football in Northern Ireland had told him to be careful of taking the job at Carrick Rangers. Photo by TONY HENDRON/

Harding resigned from his role at the club after Saturday’s 3-0 defeat at the hands of Dungannon Swifts.

In a frank interview, Harding depicted at length difficulties he experienced with ‘the owner’ - understood to mean majority shareholder Michael Hughes - during his four months in charge.

Harding also claimed that players were signed to the club that he did not want and said there was confusion regarding his budget during the transfer window.

He took on his first ever managerial role at the end of May, with the club in the midst of a summer of uncertainty over whether or not they would be relegated from the Danske Bank Premiership.

“First and foremost, I welcomed the opportunity to take on the role,” Harding began. “I was delighted to be given the opportunity. I knew some of (the circumstances) in that players had left and we had to start from scratch but the problems arose in trying to recruit new players months behind everybody else.

“I was aware of some of that but didn’t appreciate the extent of it and how long it would go on.”

It was eventually ruled that Carrick would stay in the top division of Northern Irish football, but according to Harding, his difficulties did not end there.

“I’m being careful with what I say but I have to be honest and supporters have a right to know,” he said.

“I felt that I had to do the job with my hands tied behind my back.

“Certain players were signed that I didn’t want.

“I was given a budget and then two weeks before the window closed, I was told the budget was spent. I knew it wasn’t. I had held back because I knew I had to sign a couple of players.

“I wanted to bring in Martin Murray but I was told that I had to get rid of (Miguel) Chines. I was reluctant to do that but I was told I had to because he wasn’t training. I had no problem with that but I wasn’t prepared to get rid of him until I had someone else in.”

Harding also said that he made the board of directors aware of the situation before he left the club and that he hasn’t spoken to the owner since he tendered his resignation.

“It just became a real challenge,” he went on. “I think the owner has his mind and probably wants to do everything. He wants to sign the players and said he wanted to play at one stage. There are all those sorts of things going on.

“Some decisions were taken totally out of my hands. It got to the stage that it became almost untenable.

“There were some disappointing results. I’m not saying that it’s all somebody else’s fault. I have to take some responsibility.

“Everyone knows how much I put into the job but it came to a sad end.”

Harding said he had his mind made up that his stay at the club would be a short one but in the end left a week earlier than he had planned.

“I wanted to go on a high and my intention was to go after the Ards game,” he said. “I thought we could get something out of that but it didn’t work out that way and I went at the weekend.”

Harding was Ronnie McFall’s Assistant Manager at Portadown and was keen to continue his involvement in the local game after leaving Shamrock Park, signing at Carrick in May.

“It was my first job (as a manager) and I was looking forward to it,” he said. “The thing about it is I was warned when I went in. People said the owner wants to do everything and I thought I could manage that. I did to a degree but it became difficult.

“Everyone in the game knew and people in top positions within football in Northern Ireland told me to be careful.

“It hasn’t dampened my enthusiasm and passion for the game.

“As someone said to me, maybe it was the right man at the wrong club. I don’t mean any disrespect to anyone at the club - the players, supporters or the board.”

When contacted, Michael Hughes was unavailable for comment and the Carrick Rangers Secretary David Hilditch did not wish to say anything in response to Harding’s interview.

Carrick currently sit second bottom of the Danske Bank Premiership, having lost five league games in a row.