Belfast Telegraph

Linfield signing Albert prepares to raise the bar

By Stuart McKinley

Teams raising their game when Linfield come to town has long been a cause of angst for Blues boss David Jeffrey — but new signing Albert Watson insists it’s no myth.

The 25-year-old made the switch to Windsor Park from Ballymena United this summer and, as he prepares to make his Showgrounds return with the champions tomorrow, says that he already has first-hand experience of opponents playing above themselves when they take on Linfield.

“I’ve only been here for a short time but I’ve been shocked by exactly how highly motivated other teams are when it comes to playing us,” he explained.

“I suppose it’s a natural thing because, when you’re up against the champions and the team at the top of the table, you know that you have to be at your very best or you’re going to get punished.

“Looking back, I’d say that I probably did the same thing myself when I played against Linfield for Ballymena.

“A player might not necessarily be aware of it at the time and you don’t lower your standards in other games on purpose, but it doesn’t take long to remind you of how good you need to be if you want to do well against Linfield.

“When you step out onto the pitch and find yourself up against the likes of Peter Thompson or Mark McAllister, you tell yourself ‘Right, I can’t switch off for a single second here or I’ll get made a fool of’.

“That should be your attitude in every game but, for whatever reason, sometimes people aren’t quite so tuned in against so-called lesser teams.”

It is with that in mind that Watson knows his former team mates will relish the task of upsetting the form book tomorrow, but he insists he’s looking forward to playing at Warden Street again — albeit in a different shade of blue.

“It will be strange for me to go back there and play against the team and supporters I was involved with for nine seasons,” he admitted.

“I still have a lot of friends at Ballymena, both on and off the pitch, and there were no hard feelings when I left. I just felt that the time was right for me to move on and I left Ballymena on good terms.

“Having said that, I’m sure they’ll not be too friendly to me once the whistle blows because, at the end of the day, there’s a football match to be won.

“Ballymena’s fans are always really pumped up when the likes of Linfield and Glentoran visit and the players feed off that.

“I remember how much I used to look forward to playing the Blues and I’m sure it’ll be the same for everyone down there tomorrow — which is something you face at Linfield every week.”

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