Belfast Telegraph

Rattled Reds will regroup and come out fighting, warns Flynn

By Graham Luney

Johnny Flynn has warned the rest of the Danske Bank Premiership that Cliftonville are about to shake themselves into life.

The champions have made a stuttering start to their title defence and while no-one is reaching for the panic button at Solitude, there is an urgent understanding that performances must improve.

Former Falkirk defender Flynn says the Reds are upping their work-rate and injecting more urgency into their play – with Ballyclare Comrades the first side to take a battering, in the County Antrim Shield in midweek.

But Tommy Breslin's men need to sparkle again in the Premiership, starting with the home battle against Dungannon Swifts tomorrow.

For some bizarre reason the north-Belfast side have been homesick this season – pocketing only three points out of a possible 12 at Solitude.

And they haven't won any of their last three league outings.

It's not the form of a side going for the title, but a year ago the Reds endured similar headaches and overcame them to win back-to-back titles for the first time in the club's history.

And the bigger picture is they are only a point off the top of the table!

But the players and management know they must start producing the goods – and soon.

"Things have not gone as well as we had hoped, but I don't believe the picture is as bad as some say it is," says former Northern Ireland under-21 international Flynn.

"We are one point off the top of the table and we are not in the middle of a major crisis, but we know we have to improve.

"The greatest pressure on us is what we put on ourselves and after a good chat following the Coleraine defeat we know where we are going and what we have to do.

"We will up our work-rate and inject more urgency into our play.

"We have to pressurise teams more and increase the tempo, be more relentless in our attacks and pursuit of possession.

"I think we did that against Ballyclare Comrades, but the Swifts game is a massive one for us.

"We have been impressive in periods of matches, but it hasn't been enough.

"Although there is room for improvement I don't think we are far off being where we want to be.

"We have had chances in matches, including myself against Linfield and had those went in we would be in a much healthier position.

"It's important we start performing at Solitude, a place where opposing teams should expect to be run ragged."

Breslin has demanded his players show that they still have the hunger for another title chase and Flynn has no doubt what the answer is.

"I have known a lot of the boys a long time and this is a fantastic dressing room, 100 per cent it's the place where you want to be," he added.

"We are all mates and fighting hard for each other. A few of the reserve lads come up to the first team and we are a big family.

"That team spirit is important. We just need to find that extra one or two per cent that will see us flying again.

"Every point is precious in this league and it's important we get more wins under out belts.

"Teams aren't playing us off the park but we just need to start showing what we are capable of.

"It's down to us and we will put things right."

The Swifts have been warned.

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