Belfast Telegraph

Linfield rock bottom after bore draw with Glentoran

By Stuart McKinley

Linfield 0 Glentoran 0: David Jeffrey probably thought that he'd experienced everything at Linfield.

There have been the highs of six doubles in seven years, an all-Ireland success and European victories.

Among the lows have been cup final defeats and effectively losing the 2005 league title to a last minute Chris Morgan goal – less than 12 months after the striker had left Windsor Park for Glentoran.

Right now, however, the Blues boss is at an all-time low – at least in terms of his team's league position.

Linfield are bottom of the table. It's never happened to Jeffrey before during 26 years at the club as player, coach and manager of the club.

Statisticians have been frantically leafing through the history books to find out when it last occurred.

Their rivals are loving it and Glentoran fans poked fun at Jeffrey as their team ensured a longer stay at the foot of the table after Saturday's Big Two scoreless draw.

That was only the second point they have collected in four league games so far, which is why the Blues find themselves looking up at the rest of the country rather than down.

'You're getting sacked in the morning' the sarcastic Glenmen told Jeffrey when they sensed victory after Aaron Burns was sent-off after just half an hour.

There has been no tap on the shoulder from the chairman. Should Jeffrey's position be discussed by the board he will be informed, as he has been on more than one occasion in the past. The most recent being just last season.

He knows that his future lies in other people's hands. Firstly the players on the pitch – which he can do something about – and secondly, if the players don't produce results, those who hold the power, the club's management committee.

Ultimately, though, Jeffrey sees a greater power as being in control of his destiny.

"I am in a place at the moment where I make decisions about players and I look after that bit, other people make decisions about managers," said Jeffrey.

"Isaiah 51 says that it will not be men who make decisions, it will be God, so I will leave it over to him."

In contrast to the Glentoran fans suggesting that Jeffrey was about to be axed, the Linfield supporters backed their manager by singing his name. That's as big a statement from the hard to please Windsor Park faithful as you'll get.

"It's nice, particularly because of the difficult time that we are going through and when people give you that backing it's tremendous," said Jeffrey.

There is no getting away from the fact that Jeffrey is under pressure to produce results – although he insists that the greatest expectation comes from within.

Given Saturday's opposition it was the best and the worst game that Jeffrey could have faced in his current position.

A win against the Glens would have eased that pressure slightly – although the three points would only have lifted them into 10th place.

If losing the game was unthinkable for Jeffrey, so too were the consequences.

In the end the stalemate neither increased that pressure or eroded it.

"Without any doubt a point is the least that we needed to take from the game," said Jeffrey.

"I can give you a rationale for absolutely everything, but we are in a results business and our current position doesn't make pretty reading reading – two points from 12 – but it would have been worse had it been one point from 12.

"What people can look to, if it was a below-par performance like last week there would have been a problem, but it was a performance of heart, spirit, hard work, desire and commitment when they were down to 10 men, so if you're getting that then we're moving forward."

Ahead of Jeffrey and his players now are two more high pressure games.

Before the season kicked-off everyone knew that Linfield's first four games were going to test them. At the same time the next couple on the list would have been put down as wins, but now the Blues are tiptoeing through a minefield.

After drawing with Portadown and losing to Cliftonville and Crusaders before Saturday's 0-0 draw, it's the two newly promoted teams up next.

Tomorrow night's clash with Warrenpoint Town is followed by an away game against Ards – ironically the two teams immediately above Jeffrey's men in the table.

Depending how other results go, Linfield could be in the top half this time next week. And then talk of sacking the manager might stop.

Belfast Telegraph

Popular

From Belfast Telegraph