Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 30 September 2014

Some players just can't handle criticism

John Laverty

Linfield's Danish Pasting. Those three words got me erased from the Blues' Christmas card list 20 years ago – even though I didn't actually write them.

They did, however, appear as a headline on my match report, which followed Linfield's 5-0 defeat by Odense in Denmark.

And no, I didn't hold back on the criticism although the headline gave the impression of a more frenzied attack on the Belfast outfit.

"Did you have to be so hard on them?" I remember one LFC director asking.

"Don't forget, these are part-timers playing against full-time professionals..."

That's true – and Odense, a slick, solid outfit, were always going to be too strong for the visitors in this Uefa Cup tie.

But only when they had the ball...

There was no excuse for Linfield players failing to find colleagues with simple 10-yard passes in their own half – and I remember it happening quite a lot during that game.

If you can't get the basics right when you're in possession and under no real pressure, you're already beaten.

That Odense debacle from September 1994 flashed into my mind this week as I watched Manchester United – yes, that lot who were crowned Premier League champions only last year – do something similar in Milton Keynes.

You can talk about formations all you want, but if you fail to carry out the most rudimentary functions...

Not only that; there were too many red-shirted players who acted as if they didn't want to be there on Tuesday – and too many others who knew they wouldn't be United players for much longer.

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