Former Cork City captain Declan Daly believes John Caulfield could have turned things around at the club if the board had kept faith in his tenure.
Caulfield was formally dismissed yesterday after a dismal run of form which has left the 2017 champions third from bottom of the SSE Airtricity League Premier Division.
Daly, who led the club to their first ever FAI Cup win in 1998, described yesterday’s events as a “sad day” for the club.
“It is a sad day, a disappointing day,” said Daly, who roomed with Caulfield on away trips in their playing days.
“There’s a risk attached to the board’s strategy and some would say there was a risk attached to retaining the people there.
“Is there a likelihood John could have turned it around to mid-table or better? I think he could have but we’ll never know.
“I’m a good friend of John’s but I want to be objective. I hope the strategy is right and I hope the decision the board took is right.
"Looking at the facts and divorcing it from John a little bit, the year before his management team came in, they were sixth in the Premier Division with 46 points.
“From 2014 to 2018 they haven’t been outside the top two — their points totals are 72, 67, 70, 76, 77 and from 180-odd league games they’ve only lost 33 — and seven of those were this year.
“I would have hoped we could have retained what we had for a bit and some might say that’s cos you’re a buddy, and maybe it is, I’m not sure.”
Daly believes the current squad’s wealth of successes had left them unaccustomed to the gritty drudge of a dogfight at the wrong side of the table.
“This is the most successful period in the club’s history but the consequences of it being as successful as it was is players in the club now have never experienced a run like they are going through now,” said Daly.
“I’ve played with teams with Cork and Limerick that were third and fourth from bottom for the season and it’s a really difficult place to play. It’s a different pressure to that at the other end of the division.
"You start doubting yourself, your confidence starts dropping. I think anyone going to the Cross regularly can see that now and it’s a matter of trying to get that confidence back.
As a player Caulfield is the club’s record appearance holder and joint-record scorer and Daly is confident his legacy as a manager will be unaffected by this year’s travails.
“John and John Cotter and the management team have a huge amount to be proud of, they’ve done enormous work for the club over the past five years and we’ve enjoyed unparalleled success.
"The 14 games of this season is an unfair legacy to be looking at, when you look at the success and the two cup wins and two cup runners-up.
“He brought a degree of stability at the club, which allows you put plans in place.
"Look at UCC coming on board, and the Colin Healys, Cormac Cotters, Liam Kearneys, Billy Woods all with huge pedigree and involvement in our club. We’re lucky to have them.
“John is Cork City through and through, he has achieved everything.
"I know he’s disappointed today and didn’t want it to finish this way but he should have immense pride in what he has done.”