Former Shamrock Rovers manager Trevor Croly believes that negativity from the Tallaght crowd played a factor in the Hoops' recent downturn in fortunes and, ultimately, his exit from the club.
Croly parted company with Rovers last weekend, following a disappointing run of results that saw the club’s league challenge all but disappear and had them drop out of the European qualification places.
The former manager pinpointed a 1-0 defeat to Dundalk at the start of July as the turning point and, speaking on RTÉ's Soccer Republic, he claimed that pressure and negativity from the Rovers supporters in that game and in subsequent matches had hurt the team.
"You can trace it back to the Dundalk game and that was really a turning point. You could feel the negativity at half-time," he said.
"We didn't play particularly well in the game and neither did Dundalk, but at half-time the lads were booed off and that certainly does't help you. We went out and lost the game then and, since then, the players have struggled to deal with that pressure.
"If you look at results we’re right up there until the Dundalk game. To be honest we’re not a million miles off at the minute, we’re 12 off at the top so it’s unlikely that we’ll win it now but we can still get into Europe and we've got to be realistic with where we are as a club.
"Our budget is the fourth-highest budget in the league so you've got to be realistic. We were building to challenge and we wanted to challenge and I think we would have got there to be quite honest.
"I'm not saying we would have won the league this year, but we certainly would have been closer and we can be closer with a positive outlook on it.”
Croly took his share of the blame for the results on the pitch and admitted that the time was right for a change.
"I think I needed to go because what we were putting out on the training pitch wasn’t being taken onto the pitch.
"It’s a bit like a theatre, you can prepare all week but when you’re getting heckled and you’re getting abused, it’s kind of difficult and the players struggled with that."
Soccer Republic analyst Alan Cawley was among those to question Croly’s suitability as Shamrock Rovers manager before he parted company with the club and last week claimed that the Hoops had no identity under the former manager, but Croly insisted that the club had a solid footballing philosophy under him.
"Our identity was that we passed the ball, at times we didn’t pass it quick enough. We changed shape a couple of times this year, we played with a 4-4-2 and we played with a 4-3-3 but we always passed the ball, we always tried to press high.
"At times we didn’t keep the ball well enough, which didn’t enable us to press high - because if you’re playing long balls you’re not near the ball so how can you go press it?
"At times we failed on that front but every team does. But our identity was to pass the ball, to get it wide, to get it in the box and get on the end of it.
"We did that up until the last three weeks, there’s absolutely no doubt that we did that."