Belfast Telegraph

Tommy Breslin's critics need to keep faith with the champions

By Graham Luney

Some people do talk complete and utter nonsense. It appears to be an immense struggle for some folk to engage their brains before they start sharing their crazy views with us.

I'm going to start talking to myself, clinging to the hope I can enjoy some intelligent conversation… yes, the world has gone that mad!

We all know that football fans can be fickle and we have our fair share of them in the Irish League but some recent criticism of Cliftonville manager Tommy Breslin has left me rolling on the floor with laughter. One nutcase on social media even suggested that Tommy should lose his job after the Reds endured a frustrating winter period.

Some people need to take a few reality pills. I've always argued that (most) supporters pay hard earned money to follow their teams and they are entitled to express an opinion. Criticism is acceptable as long as it is constructive and managers sign up to the rough as well as the smooth when they take on the job.

But supporters should never let go of common sense and intelligence. Perspective is needed. Never take your eyes off the bigger picture. Sometimes I feel that all the managers in our top flight are just three defeats away from a crisis.

Meanwhile, Cliftonville have reached two senior finals - the first one tonight sees them take on Bangor in the County Antrim Shield decider at Solitude - and in the last two seasons they have won back to back titles and consecutive League Cup triumphs.

The club had never before won consecutive championships or retained the League Cup. Some crisis, eh? Quite a few of our local sides would love to have a crisis like that.

As for the league title, which Breslin's boys won by six points last season, they are only seven points behind leaders Crusaders and the Reds can still make it three in a row. If there is one team you cannot write off in this league, it's Cliftonville. Can you believe that one clown hammered the Reds' rearguard and yet they boast the best defensive record in the division!

Tommy, his management team and the Cliftonville players deserve more respect. For supporters, the clue is in the title, you support… get behind your team and give them encouragement when they need it most.

The Solitude men reeled in Linfield last season when the Blues had a healthy advantage. Not even the desire at Windsor Park to see legendary boss David Jeffrey walk off into the sunset with a 10th league championship could stop them.

Cliftonville have proved they know how to finish the job. They are still very much in this title race and they have just been involved in too many draws this season.

But if anyone has earned the time to put things right it's Tommy Breslin.

One pleasing feature of the Danske Bank Premiership is that our chairmen and board members have stood by their managers in stormy times.

Portadown boss Ronnie McFall came in for fierce criticism at the end of last season but the club have kept faith with him and the Shamrock Park side are dreaming of a league and cup double.

Coleraine have also stood by Oran Kearney.

Clubs need stability. What they don't need is expectation levels spiralling out of control. We should know by now that no team has a divine right to win any match, let alone any trophy in this league.

Cliftonville have been unfortunate on the injury front with Stephen Garrett and Barry Johnston ruled out for the season.

Several new faces are adjusting to life at Solitude and the pressures of launching a title defence.

The overwhelming majority of Cliftonville fans are savouring every second of the greatest period in the club's history. The disgruntled few who are quick to criticise need to take a long, hard look at themselves.

Belfast Telegraph


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