Proud ICT manager Billy Dodds explains Celtic tactics and gives update on his own future
The Championship outfit put up a good fight against Ange Postecoglou’s treble-chasers and made it an exciting finish to the match when Daniel Mackay halved Caley’s arrears with six minutes remaining before finally succumbing to a late Jota strike. Dodds hailed his players for carrying out his gameplan and after a season affected by serious injuries hopes to have better luck on that front next term. However, it is still unknown whether the 54-year-old will be at the helm for the next campaign, with talks “ongoing” about his contract.
“Right now I’m feeling everything a losing manager feels,” said Dodds. “I’m disappointed, but proud at the same time. There’s a massive gulf between those teams out there, but we asked them questions at certain time. Having said that, we then lost goals at bad times. We were trying to get to half-time. I had a plan in my head for where we went from there, but then they scored late. Then we lost a second just when I was planning an attacking change – and after Daniel got one back, we lost a third right at the end.
“There aren’t many games when we don’t score goals, so I had it in my head to have a real go just when Abada made it 2-0. For once in my life, I was praying for VAR! Then at 2-1 we were 4-4-2 and trying to test their centre-halves with pace. That was the time to do that, because we’ve all seen what happens when you try and be open from the start against Celtic.
“They’ve demolished teams, five and six and even nine. So you have to wait for the right time. At 0-0, their fans were getting frustrated. Our boys had carried out the tactics myself and my staff had given them right to the letter, I’m absolutely thrilled by how they dug in. I love working with this group, they’re tremendous boys who love coming to work every day. All I’ve told them in the dressing room us to realise how good a team they are.
“Now, I just hope we get a better rub of the green with injuries next season, because our aim has to be promotion – I’m not going to Caley Thistle are going to win the league, because we’ll be up against Dundee United and either Ross County or Partick Thistle, with Ayr coming again and Raith spending money, so it’ll be tough. But promotion has to be the aim.
Caley missed out on their ultimate goal of winning promotion from the Championship, with Dodds having to deal with a series of debilitating injuries. “This season? I won’t call it successful, but it’s been hugely positive,” continued Dodds. “To be honest, it’s been a minor miracle that we’ve achieved what we have. We were demoralised at times and that wouldn’t have been the case had I had my full squad to choose from. There were times back in the winter when we had so many injuries we struggled to put a team out. I was playing basically a youth side against Hamilton one day then a schoolboy in a league game against Queen’s Park. I’ve never known anything like it; I mean, you can handle three or four being out at one time, but it was never just three or four, it was nine and ten.
“Every week in training we’d lose another one. We had Nathan Shaw do his hamstring in shooting practice at the end of training one day, then Robbie Deas broke his leg in the last minute against Raith. So sometimes you have to take a step back and realise how well you’ve done. Yes, we finished sixth, but we were a goal against Ayr on the last night from being third – and to be in the play-offs would have been a miracle in the circumstances.”
Asked about his own long-running contract situation, Dodds said: “My own situation is ongoing and we’ll hopefully have news in the next few days. If everything’s right, I hope to be here next season. I can’t elaborate on that. Let’s just say that when it’s your own wages you try and get what’s right.”