Glentoran cash crisis won’t stop Scott Young’s title drive
It's hard to remember a time when expectancy levels at the Oval have been so low.
Well documented financial difficulties have meant that Glentoran go into this Carling Premiership season with fresh faces at a premium — indeed, while a number of players have left east-Belfast for pastures new, just one has taken the drive down Mersey Street way.
Former Lisburn Distillery forward Neal Gawley, a decent Irish League player, but hardly one to have their notoriously difficult-to-please Oval fans shouting from the rooftops, is Young’s only signing of the summer and anyone who watched the Glens for the majority of last season will be well aware that quite a few more should have been following Gawley through the Oval gates.
Unfortunately for Young, he has been unable to strengthen the team as much he would have liked and has arguably been dealt the worst hand that any new Glentoran boss has ever had the misfortune of picking up.
And so, while there isn’t as much doom and gloom hovering over the east end of the city as one would have expected, there seems to be a belief amongst Glenmen that major honours won’t be heading in their direction come the end of this campaign.
That may turn out to be a good thing as Glens players don’t generally perform well under the weight of expectation — see last season’s pathetic attempt at title retention as a prime example.
Already, pundits have been queueing up to make light of Young’s chances of bringing any success to the club, this season at least, but the rookie manager is taking no notice.
“If people want to write Glentoran off, then go ahead,” said Young. “I’m not going to take much notice of that, they can say what they like.
“I’m not going to come out and say that expectancy levels have diminished — this is Glentoran, one of the biggest clubs in the whole of Ireland.
“But I can’t change people’s views, all I will say is that I have my expectancy levels and I want those to be reached first and foremost. When I took the job I said that I wanted to make the team fitter and play the type of football that the club is famous for.
“I have to say that the players have been absolutely brilliant over pre-season in terms of raising their fitness levels. We have worked them very hard and they have responded well to that.
“We have been in since June 14 — Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday,
Thursday, Saturday, so really they have only had two days off a week since then and have been working hard in every session.
“It has been difficult for them, but hopefully they will realise the benefits of it when the season kicks off.”
It’s not been easy for Young either, trying to juggle the demands of managing one of the biggest teams in the country, in his first managerial post.
New bosses at most clubs at least have the opportunity to mould a team of their own, but those cash problems have meant that Young has to utilise the squad at his disposal and attempt to make a challenging team out of it.
There is no doubt that there are quality players there — Elliott Morris, Sean Ward and Richard Clarke to name a few are among the best in the league in their positions, while an on-form Gary Hamilton is still one of the most dangerous strikers around, but underachievement best describes the past few years — even taking into account their league title success a little over a year ago.
And so, as part of what has become a reshaping, rather than a revolution under Young, a new 4-3-3/4-5-1 formation has been initiated.
On the face of it, decent pre-season performances, particularly in
a 1-1 draw with Dundee United, appear to point to the new system being a success, but only after Saturday’s opener away to Lisburn Distillery will anyone be able to pass judgement.
“It has been difficult for me,” added Young. “Perhaps naively when I took the job I thought I could bring some new players in and build my own team.
“I was given a rude awakening pretty quickly, but I don’t want any
sympathy, I’ll get on with it.
“We have changed the formation and only time will tell if it works. I think it is one which best suits the team.
“This team has been playing 4-4-2 for 128 years and when was the last time it worked? 2003? We need something different and if I can’t bring in new players then this is the best way, I feel, of making us a team that will be difficult to beat this season.”