Jeffrey: We were bad but some Glentoran fans were simply vile
Linfield boss David Jeffrey denied that complacency had wormed its way into his squad after witnessing a poor display in losing the first Big Two derby of the season on Saturday.
Up until the weekend, the Blues were being lauded far and wide having ripped teams apart, registering three wins on the trot, notching up 11 goals and conceding just three.
Notoriously slow starters, this was Linfield's best kick off to a campaign for years and it sent out an ominous warning to anyone who considered themselves a rival.
However, when Glentoran rolled in, Linfield seemed to lose the swagger that had defined much of their play so far this season. The Blues lacked a spark for almost all of the game and even though at one stage they had three strikers on the pitch — Rory Patterson, Mark McAllister and Peter Thompson — there was barely a chance created.
Of course you have to credit Glentoran for stifling that attacking threat somewhat, but it was made easy for them.
While Jeffrey recognised that it was a very unimpressive performance, he didn't believe that it was a case of his players believing that they only had to turn up to win the match, this a week after the Glens had been beaten by Donegal Celtic, a team the Blues had seen off by five goals and with 10 men.
“There was no complacency it was just one of those days when people didn't perform to the best of their ability,” he said.
“They are human beings, they are not robots. The first three games, they were absolutely phenomenal, the two European games against BATE they were fantastic so I can have absolutely no complaints.”
Though Jeffrey would never allow complacency to sneak in, he did at least admit that the result offered a reminder that you have to be at the top of your game every week.
“I felt that we weren't at our best. We were certainly below par and, if anything, it serves to remind everybody, particularly our players, that they shouldn't believe what they read.”
After the match, Jeffrey claimed that he substituted ex-Glentoran player Daryl Fordyce because he was the victim of ‘vile' abuse from visiting fans, who made disgraceful remarks about a member of the midfielder's family.
Jeffrey said: “I took Daryl off primarily because of the absolute vile, obscene abuse and chanting that was directed at him. And I would be absolutely embarrassed and ashamed that someone shout and sing that your sister's a well you heard it yourselves. They are not football supporters at all. It was an absolute disgrace.”
At the close of Saturday's press conference, Jeffrey told the assembled media that the abuse Fordyce and his family took ‘shouldn't be understated.'
Of course, he was right, it was disgusting, however unfortunately these sorts of things happen in football grounds all over the world and Linfield fans — like other Carling Premiership teams — have shown themselves not to have been angels themselves on many occasions when it comes to unsavoury chanting.
That doesn't make it right but Jeffrey's insistence that this particularly incident be brought into the public domain, which smacked of a manager deflecting attention away from a poor team performance, has put his own fans under the microscope and now they must ensure that the songs they sing can be in no way deemed offensive.
Otherwise, there will be an insistence that they too must not be understated.