Belfast Telegraph

Crusaders boss Baxter makes plans for more silverware

By Graham Luney

Linfield may be more accustomed to doing doubles than Crusaders, but Stephen Baxter beat the Blues to it this week.

The Seaview supremo was named Carling Manager of the Month for January, making it a Shore Road-double after Chris Morrow collected the top player gong.

Although the Crues have failed to maintain a league title challenge this season they did crack open the champagne bottles last month after lifting the IRN-BRU Cup — Baxter’s third trophy win as manager after pocketing the Irish Cup in 2009 and County Antrim Shield in 2010.

Morrow was the goalscoring hero in the cup final — a player who got his hands on an Irish Cup winner’s medal despite not kicking a ball in the competition.

Baxter was proud to lift the manager’s gong after his side were unbeaten in the league in January and progressed to the sixth round of the Irish Cup on top of their fairytale cup triumph.

But like any successful manager, he’s happy to deflect praise onto his players and he was particularly pleased to see Morrow conjure magic at the Ballymena Showgrounds.

“The cup success meant more to Chris than any other player and it was wonderful to see after he missed out on the Irish Cup in 2009 through injury,” said Baxter.

“He is just an unassuming lovely young man and he played so well on the day, I was thrilled for him and his family from the Shore Road. Chris is a big fans’ favourite and he deserves every success that come his way.”

Crusaders still have plans to lift another prize, but they must overcome Glenavon at Mourneview Park tomorrow in the sixth round of the Irish Cup.

“I was told we had only lost two games in 18 matches and it shows how tough we are to beat,” said Baxter. “We just haven’t caught that run of form we managed at the tail end of last season.

“I thought our experience told in the cup final, but with the league now beyond us we must secure our place in the top six and see if we can get another run going in the Irish Cup.”

Baxter is keeping an eye on the Glentoran managerial situation with his good friend Roy Walker among the leading contenders for the post.

“Roy is a very able man and I’ve no doubt he would do a top job there,” said Baxter.

“He knows the game inside out, but I’m sure there are other candidates and that’s for Glentoran to choose.”

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