Belfast Telegraph

Wind of change has struck Windsor but Jonny Tuffey still eyes glory

By Graham Luney

Jonny Tuffey has assured Linfield fans that it's "business as usual" at the club despite all the sweeping changes under new boss Warren Feeney.

A change of management at any club is always a period of transition but the Blues have also lost several seasoned performers including their long serving skipper Michael Gault.

The number of faces who have left the Blues comes close to double figures and former Northern Ireland international Feeney has set about building his own squad.

There's been more departures and arrivals at Windsor Park than at George Best City Airport over Christmas!

It's very much out with the old and in with the new as Feeney has rolled out the welcome mat for Chris Hegarty, Jamie Richards, Seanan Clucas, Stephen Lowry, Paul McElroy, Kirk Millar and Sammy Morrow.

Injuries have not helped the Blues' cause with Andy Waterworth suffering a hamstring injury against Glentoran while Sean Ward sustained a bad ankle injury in the same stunning comeback victory.

And inevitably, new players need time to forge partnerships and develop an effective understanding.

But, to the immense credit of Feeney and his players, who travel to Institute this afternoon, the Linfield ship has steadied.

A storm rattled it after the disappointing opening day 3-0 defeat to Portadown which no-one saw coming after their positive European exploits.

But the club's response has been emphatic and you would have to listen very hard to hear the critics now.

That remarkable comeback victory after being two goals down at Glentoran followed by the 2-1 win at Coleraine has transformed the mood in the dressing room.

Feeney demands total commitment from his men and they have responded by getting the show back on the road.

Goalkeeper Tuffey, who was one of only a few players spared severe criticism after the defeat to Portadown, says the team's strength of character is beginning to come to the surface.

"A week is definitely a long time in football as we have found," said the former Partick Thistle stopper.

"From the massive disappointment of losing to Portadown we have enjoyed two massive wins.

"We showed a lot of character to fight back from 2-0 down against Glentoran and then we were delighted to come away with three points from a very difficult test at Coleraine.

"I never lost belief that we could get something against the Glens as we were attacking and creating chances.

"Elliott Morris had made a few saves and we believed that if we could get one back we could go on and get another.

"We looked a completely different team after our first goal and were full of energy.

"New players have come to the club but it's very much business as usual.

"Warren and Toddy (assistant manager Andy Todd) have come in and set their stall out, what they expect from the players and those ideas have been taken on board.

"Everyone is pulling in the one direction and although there have been changes, the players are good players and we are showing our strength of character a bit more."

But Linfield are no different from any other Premiership side in the sense that big tests arrive every week.

Every opponent poses a unique threat and the Blues will need to show their mettle when the going gets tough – including at Drumahoe today.

"By all accounts Institute have started very well," added Tuffey.

"They did really well to gain promotion and there is a freshness about them as they set about their work with a fully fit squad.

"They will play without fear and will look to prove they belong in the Premiership. We will have to be at our best to win this tough game.

"The goal for us is always to be up there challenging but medals aren't handed out until around the end of April so it's just something you have to address step by step.

"We want to be there or thereabouts in the race for the title but I just focus on what I have to do, game by game."

Belfast Telegraph

Popular

From Belfast Telegraph