I'm loving my life in Wales, says ex-Blues boss Warren Feeney
Former Linfield manager Warren Feeney is enjoying being back in professional football again... and spending quality time with his family.
It's a month since Feeney left the hotseat at Windsor Park to become assistant manager at League Two outfit Newport County and along with boss John Sheridan, who brought him on board, they have made a hugely positive impact.
Newport were bottom of the table when Feeney arrived. They are now fourth bottom and four points above the relegation zone, having taken seven points out of nine from their last three games, which have included highly impressive away victories over Wycombe and Bristol Rovers.
Off the pitch, life is good too. When Feeney was boss of the Blues he lived in Northern Ireland for his 17 month spell in charge, but his wife and four children stayed in south Wales with the decision made not to move the kids out of their schools.
Understandably, the ex-Northern Ireland striker missed spending time with his family. Now after training instead of going home to an empty house, he enjoys family fun.
"It is great being able to see my family much more than when I was at Linfield," said the 34-year-old.
"Being a coach isn't like being a player when you could finish training and go home. After training these days as part of my job I continue to work on other things, but at least now when I go home my family is there unlike when I was in Northern Ireland.
"It is a release just to talk and play with the kids and spend time with my wife. I think that is important because you need to get away from football at times."
Up until he took over from David Jeffrey, Feeney had spent the best part of two decades in the professional game playing with a host of clubs in England, Scotland and Wales. He is relishing that day to day involvement in football again with Newport.
"I'm loving being at Newport," said a beaming Feeney.
"Most of my adult life has been in full-time football and I'm really enjoying being back in that environment.
"The manager John Sheridan is a great man for attention to detail and that suits me because I relish working on the training ground and then assessing players and the opposition from videos we receive.
"When we came in, the team was bottom of the league and very low in confidence. They had won one match all season and our aim was to change that. The gaffer brought in a couple of players and we made the training more intense, looked at the best formation for the side and results have improved which is great to see.
"We have picked up seven points from nine and beaten teams above us like Wycombe and Bristol Rovers. It's all about working hard, being professional and drilling it into the players to enjoy it when they are on the ball.
"This season is all about consolidation for the club. Remember we were rock bottom. Now the plan is to stay up and stabilise the club and build things from there.
"It has been great for me working with John. Already I have learned loads from him and will no doubt continue to do that," added Feeney, ahead of Newport's FA Cup first round tie away to non-league Brackley tomorrow.
While he may no longer be in charge of Linfield, Feeney continues to keep in touch with results and has spoken to new boss and his old international team-mate David Healy.
"David is the right man for the job. When I was leaving Linfield I said to the board that they needed a manager with a professional background. That is no disrespect to the other managers in the Irish League, I just felt it was the right way to go for Linfield," said Feeney.
"He is one of the biggest heroes ever in Northern Ireland sport and I believe he will prove to be a good manager. He has a ruthless side and is well respected in the game and I hope he is a big success."
The Blues meet champions Crusaders in a top of the table clash at Windsor Park today.
Going forward, Feeney offered some words of wisdom to the fans.
He said: "What I would say is that it is important for all the fans to back David, the players and the team. The majority are very supportive but some fans are so demanding you think sometimes it would be easier to manage Real Madrid!
"Linfield can't just turn up and win these days. Crusaders and Cliftonville are strong sides and it is going to be a tough title race, though I have every hope the Blues can win the league this year."