NEIL KELLY has clarified that he is stepping down as Dewsbury Rams coach for personal reasons, but has warned that the club could have a difficult year ahead.
The decision was revealed on Tuesday, when Kelly told a regional newspaper of his concerns around the budget he had to work with.
But he has now clarified that the decision was down to personal issues first and foremost – and that those take priority.
“I think Dewsbury’s got a competitive budget but it’s a tight budget, and with the backdrop of the personal reasons I don’t think I’m the right man to take them forward,” he explained.
“With the tight budget, there’s the possibility, and I stress a possibility, that Dewsbury might not have a great year next year, and the person who gets the most flak in that situation is the coach.
“And I didn’t want that extra pressure with the personal problems I’m dealing with.”
Kelly returned to the club in April last year and helped guide them to Championship safety and an eighth-placed finish, which they are on course to achieve again this season with one game remaining.
Assistant coach Paul Delaney will also depart, and the club offered their “thanks to both Neil and Paul for their hard work across the last one-and-a-half seasons.”
Kelly believes that the Rams’ success next year depends heavily on their recruitment, with the majority of the current squad yet to sign on for 2019.
He also says it was best to make his decision now so that a new coach can work on building a squad of his own.
“I’ve been thinking about this for several weeks. I don’t think there’s a perfect time to do it but it’s dishonest of me and unfair of me to sit in front of prospective players and try to sell the club, knowing that I probably won’t be there as well.
“I’ve left it so that we can get another person in, and he can spend the significant amount of money to sign the players that he wants and not the players that Neil Kelly wants, and if they sign the right players (they can do well).”
He also says that he believes his team could have done better than they have this season.
“I think we’ve significantly underachieved as a group, and I would imagine that whoever the new coach is, if he gets the right players in, the same thing would apply that they can do very well in that division.
“I think we’ve underachieved and I think we could have been one, possibly two positions higher in the league, if we could have won some significant games, (such as) Swinton, Rochdale, Sheffield away. Everybody knows that this season there are games that we should have won.”
Kelly admits that last weekend was one of those games, when they suffered a disappointing 26-22 defeat away at the bottom-placed Hornets.
“Rochdale would probably agree that we are a better side than them,” he reflected.
“However, we’ve conspired to not controlling the ball and having poor discipline and doing everything that’s part of the game that’s negative that you can think of. We have conspired to throw a game away.
“We got off to a great start that maybe fooled us into thinking it would be easy. I think we disrespected Rochdale from then on.
“We’re a side who have got ability, but far too often in games we squander that ability by playing rubbish football.”
That was a second defeat in a row for the Rams after starting the Shield with three wins from four, and Kelly admits he would “love to finish on a high” for himself and the players.
“If you offered me a win now I’d take it and be very happy with it,” he said. “It’s potentially a last chance for players to play for the club, other players will go on and continue at the club but it’s a last chance to play as a group.
“I know Leigh are struggling, we are capable of doing well, and I don’t see any reason why the players and coaching staff shouldn’t want to.”