Belfast Telegraph

Victory over Linfield will spark Cliftonville into life, says Gray

 

By Alex Mills

Cliftonville boss Barry Gray believes his team can kick-start their season when Linfield visit Solitude tomorrow.

The Reds racked up only their third win of the Danske Bank Premiership campaign at Carrick Rangers last week, courtesy of Joe Gormley's delicious double, but Gray reckons there are better days up ahead.

Having taken up the post over the summer, replacing Gerard Lyttle who moved on to Sligo Rovers, the former Warrenpoint Town chief is the first to admit it has taken him time to get his feet under the table at Solitude.

And, even though he is slowly but surely getting things right, he admits that David Healy's Blues will set the bar in terms of his team's progress.

"We've lost to Coleraine, Crusaders and Glenavon, but they have beaten most teams in the league so far," said Gray. "Linfield come into that category, so this will be a similar challenge.

"They've started the league campaign strongly and are flying high. We must make sure that we bring our 'A' game to the table and hope we do enough for them to have an off day.

"It's all about consistency. We haven't shown enough of that. It would be a massive boost for us to get a positive result. It would help kick-start our season and it would also get a monkey off our back in many ways.

"Some people are too eager to have a dig about our results and have their own opinion about my appointment. Yes, I inherited most of the squad. It will take me a little bit of time to put my own stamp on things.

"I was under no illusions about the size of the task. Cliftonville are a massive club, but I had to get to know 25 new players in a quick space of time and I'm still in that process.

"We weren't in the position to be overly active in the transfer window. I still think we need to strengthen the squad in certain areas, simply to freshen it up, so hopefully we can complete a few bits and pieces in January.

"For the minute I'm trying to keep everyone happy, and the only way to do that is to start winning games on a consistent basis."

Gray was thrilled to leave the Belfast Loughshore Hotel Arena last weekend with three points, even though he was not entirely happy with the performance.

"I was relieved more than anything else," added Gray. "Carrick is a tough place to go.

"We had to dig in to win ugly. Perhaps we haven't been doing enough of that."

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