Belfast Telegraph

Glenn Ferguson dejected as his reign at Ballymena ends

By Billy Weir and Steven Beacom

Glenn Ferguson has revealed his disappointment at being sacked as manager of Ballymena United.

The Irish League scoring legend's contract was terminated last night by the Warden Street club after four years in the dug-out, completing 200 games in charge of the Sky Blues.

Ferguson may have brought Ballymena their first trophies since 1989, winning two County Antrim Shields, but it did not prevent him from losing his job.

In January, fans of the Braidmen were hailing Ferguson after he guided the club to a second Shield success during his tenure, but with the side spiralling down the Danske Bank Premiership table, Showgrounds chiefs decided to wield the axe.

Ferguson, known throughout the game as 'Spike', said: "I'm disappointed with the decision. We won two trophies in my time as manager and took the club to four finals in four years.

"With that record there will be people who will say that we over achieved at the club.

"In terms of the league we couldn't compete with the likes of Crusaders, Cliftonville, Linfield and others financially when bringing in players that we wanted."

Ferguson added that it was his intention to return to management in the local game in the future.

"I'll look to get back into management again. We'll see what happens down the line," said the former Northern Ireland star.

Saturday's defeat at home to Dungannon Swifts was Ballymena's fifth loss on the trot.

Ferguson was not present at the game due to illness, though rumours circulated afterwards that the former Linfield striker had been fired.

Chairman John Taggart said then that Ferguson remained manager but in the subsequent 48 hours senior club officials met to discuss the next step.

Vice-Chairman Don Stirling explained: "Ballymena United took the difficult step in terminating Glenn Ferguson's contract as it was felt recent results and performances were unacceptable.

"While we appreciate his efforts, including guiding the club to the Co Antrim Shield, it was felt that the recent slide into the relegation zone of the league table was a worrying development and at this stage the club feels that a change of manager could help arrest that.

"We would like to put on record our thanks to Glenn for his efforts in his four years at the club and wish him well in his future career."

Ferguson succeeded Roy Walker as manager in January 2012 and while the Sky Blues performed well in knock-out competitions, notably winning the Shield twice and losing the Irish Cup final to Glenavon in 2014, inconsistency in the league and failure to break into the top six has proved his downfall.

Ferguson's backroom staff of fellow former Bluemen Lee Doherty and Norman Kelly will also leave the Showgrounds.

The club have confirmed that an advertisement for a new manager will be placed in the press this week.

United have no game this weekend having already exited the Irish Cup, with the next clash for any new boss a visit to Crusaders on Saturday week.

The new man's job will be to ensure the team stay in the top flight.

They are currently fourth bottom in ninth place, seven points clear of Carrick Rangers who are bottom of the table yet at the same time are just two points adrift of seventh spot, which with the new play-off system in place this season offers a route into European football and the riches that have benefited the likes of Crusaders to such a high degree.

Former Linfield manager David Jeffrey is the man the Ballymena board have at the top of their list of candidates, but having been out of management since 2014 when he left Windsor Park, whether he would fancy going to the Showgrounds remains to be seen.

He is enjoying his break from the dug-out and would demand more finances being available than during Ferguson's time as boss.

With Ronnie McFall set to leave Portadown at the end of the season, Jeffrey is also in the frame for that post.

Other experienced managers out of a job at present are former Cliftonville bosses Tommy Breslin and Eddie Patterson. Breslin left Cliftonville earlier this season after guiding the Reds to back-to-back titles while Patterson was sacked by Glentoran despite winning last season's Irish Cup.

As Ferguson has found out, winning silverware does not guarantee a long-term future at any club these days.

Belfast Telegraph


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