Brian Barry-Murphy says he feels a “sense of guilt” over the fact that his club Rochdale have lost their relegation battle and will play in England’s fourth tier next season.
nd Ireland midfielder Jason Knight is also facing the prospect of relegation – and a subsequent scramble for his services – as Derby County need to win their final game of the season next weekend to make sure they stay in the Championship. Daryl Horgan’s Wycombe are all but relegated, but two from Derby, Rotherham or Sheffield Wednesday will also go down to League One.
A midweek draw away to Wimbledon had left Rochdale in serious danger of making the drop as they were four points away from safety with two games to play, and a 2-1 defeat at home to Doncaster Rovers on Saturday has confirmed their relegation.
Cork native Barry-Murphy had his contract extended during the season so he expects to be at the helm in League Two next term, though a number of the Irish players at the club – there are 10 Irishmen in the squad – are out of contract.
“I feel a sense of guilt that I haven’t been able to lead the club to a position of success,” says Barry-Murphy.
“I’m very disappointed, I feel responsible for the end result, all season I have been saying how difficult it was but I honestly didn’t feel we would get relegated, I always thought that with the talent in our squad we would succeed and prove everybody wrong but that didn’t materialise. Saturday was the final day and I feel sorry for our supporters and players.
“It’s very hard for them, they gave me belief all year and more recently that we would succeed, and by succeed I mean get out of the position we were in in the league table, we felt we were in brilliant form and our home form had finally given us the results we needed, so Saturday was a bit of a shock.
“I feel privileged to have worked with the calibre of player we have from Baz [Gavin Bazunu] to [Paul] McShane and [Eoghan] O’Connell, all in different stages of their career, all seeing our club as something special which has enabled them to grow.”
Bazunu will return to Manchester City after the end of his loan spell but there is likely to be interest from clubs higher up in the league in Cork native O’Connell.
Wayne Rooney’s Derby side slid to a sixth successive defeat, losing 2-1 to Swansea City, and while they are just outside the bottom three, they may need a win on the final day of the season, at home to Sheffield Wednesday, next weekend to stay up.
“The players are fighting for each other. The results are not through a lack of fight or character, they are through lapses of concentration,” says Rooney.
Dubliner Knight has started 40 league games for the Rams this season and is expected to leave if they are demoted.