Belfast Telegraph

Don't judge Glentoran until real battles start, says Haveron

 

By Graham Luney

Glentoran boss Gary Haveron has pleaded with fans to keep the faith and not read too much into disappointing pre-season results.

The Oval faithful are growing increasingly concerned by the team's early form, particularly as it follows a disappointing campaign which saw the Glens slide to ninth position in the Danske Bank Premiership.

Fans want the east-Belfast side to start restoring pride in the jersey but a 3-0 loss to Amateur League side East Belfast at The Oval on Tuesday night has virtually shattered hopes of a sensational revival.

That shocking loss followed a 2-1 defeat to Dundela and 2-2 draw with Rathfriland Rangers while a young Glentoran side battled to a 5-3 win over Orangefield Old Boys.

The one big positive for the Glens this week was the return of Curtis Allen from an ankle injury but up next is champions Linfield in a friendly at The Oval on Saturday and supporters fear the Blues could further embarrass their old enemy.

Former Carrick chief Haveron says he cannot defend the poor results but he is confident the real Glentoran will emerge in the coming weeks.

"I expect there to be negative comment when results are not good, particularly against an Amateur League or Premier Intermediate side (Dundela) but we are gearing up for the start of the league season on August 12.

"When I was at Bolton under Sam Allardyce I can remember us going to Denmark where we lost six games on the bounce so we should wait and see how the team develops. The results are not acceptable but I am aware of the hard work that is happening on the training ground and the bigger picture of players not being fit or unavailable for whatever reason or playing out of position.

"We've been experimenting and pre-season is an opportunity to get answers to questions. The players' physical condition will get better, they need game time. Jonny Addis has been playing very little football while Calum Birney has just played his first 90 minutes since February.

"I'm not defending the scorelines, the results are not good enough but East Belfast scored three goals from three attempts and we failed to score after nearly 30 attempts on goal and 19 corners. When you are playing players in different positions it can have an impact too. Some players have answered our questions while some have come up short.

"The team against Linfield on Saturday will be a lot closer to the one we want to start the season with and the matches that really count are the league games.

"I've never liked pre-season as a manager or player as it can give a false picture of teams and we should not get too hung up on results. People can make comments about games they weren't at but, while I know we can play a lot better, what matters is we are prepared for the Ballinamallard United game on August 12."

Haveron says he has lost count of the number of players he has spoken to this summer in a bid to bolster the squad and admits former Cliftonville favourite Rory Donnelly is on his wish-list.

"We have made contact with Rory's agent and expressed an interest in signing the player," he added.

"I'm sure Rory would have options to consider but we would like to have a conversation with the player and if it was a viable option we would look to bring him to Glentoran.

"Rory is a class act but we would need to be aware of his wage demands and find out if he was interested. It's only natural a player of his ability would attract significant interest and he would possibly want to stay in England but we have not made him an offer, just expressed an interest. We do need a striker and Curtis (Allen) is just back from an ankle injury."

Meanwhile, Coleraine have received bad news on the injury front ahead of the new season.

Striker James McLaughlin is expected to miss the whole campaign as he needs a knee operation, Lyndon Kane will not return until October at the earliest after breaking his fifth metatarsal bone against Derry City, while David Kee will also have knee surgery that will sideline him until September.

Elsewhere, former Greenock Morton striker Jamie McDonagh looks set to join Linfield after he netted while on trial in the 5-1 friendly victory over Sheffield United Under-23s on Tuesday.

And the Blues' game at Crusaders on September 2 has been rearranged for Wednesday, September 6 due to both clubs participation in the Irn-Bru Cup.

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