Belfast Telegraph

Reds boss Lyttle backs old pal Healy to weather storm

By Graham Luney

Cliftonville may be gunning for Linfield tomorrow but Gerard Lyttle hopes his old international comrade David Healy will be given time to come through a few early Windsor Park storms.

Blues boss Healy and his players have come under fire from their own supporters after a 1-1 draw at home to Carrick Rangers and a 1-0 defeat to title rivals Crusaders at Windsor.

The Linfield faithful are frustrated after being starved of league and Irish Cup success for three seasons but Healy, now on a steep learning curve as a rookie boss, is determined to guide the club to the glittering prizes again.

But Northern Ireland's record goalscorer never anticipated a honeymoon period at Windsor after succeeding Warren Feeney last month and some of the criticism coming his way has already been stinging.

Reds boss Lyttle, a team-mate of Healy in Northern Ireland youth sides, is hoping to give his old pal the blues when Cliftonville visit Windsor for a massive Danske Bank Premiership clash tomorrow but he's also hoping the Killyleagh man is given the support he needs from the terraces and the boardroom.

"Fans are entitled to have an opinion and many won't be shy when it comes to sharing it with a manager but I also believe that managers need support and time to improve things," said Lyttle, also a rookie boss after being named Cliftonville supremo just a day after Healy was appointed Linfield manager.

"Linfield are one of the biggest clubs in the country and there's an expectation to win things which I can identify with as our recent success at Cliftonville leaves us with a hunger to win more trophies. I embrace that thinking because it's where we want to be.

"There has been some negativity around David and the team but he needs time to put his stamp on the team and perhaps bring in one or two players, which is easier said than done. I don't see a lot of talented available players out there that managers can sign.

"David inherited a group of players and will have his own ideas about how he wants the team to play. I'm in a more fortunate position in that I've known the Cliftonville players for four and a half years, I know their strengths and weaknesses.

"David will get to know his players better and I'm sure he's thick skinned enough to deal with some of the heavy criticism.

"But it's refreshing to see clubs stand by their manager and you only have to look at Coleraine where Oran Kearney, after being backed by his board, is now enjoying a superb season. I'd like to see more common sense and patience applied while we all set about the tough task of building strong squads."

Healy's biggest managerial high to date is a 3-1 victory over Cliftonville in a County Antrim Shield quarter-final battle at Windsor last month but his men are now licking their wounds after a 1-0 loss to Crusaders last weekend.

"I'm sure they will have a real go at us but it's a game we will relish and we'll have our own gameplan," added Lyttle.

"All our boys want to be involved and Eamonn Seydak is a fantastic replacement for Levi Ives, who is on international duty.

"We know what way we want to play and hopefully that will be enough to win the game. I know they will try to get the crowd behind them and unsettle us but we had a good record against them before the Shield tie and I'll have more big players back for this one."

Lyttle and his family were at the Nou Camp last weekend to watch Barcelona see off Villarreal 3-0.

"Kellie and the boys were already in Spain and I joined them after the Warrenpoint game on Friday," he added.

"I'm sure Kellie was not too happy about us being there two hours before kick off but as a coach I wanted to study their training methods.

"The majority of their warm-up work was done indoors but they worked on shape and patterns and as we all know, it's a simple game!"

Belfast Telegraph


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