Belfast Telegraph

Irish League will miss David Jeffrey, says Ronnie McFall

By Stuart McKinley

Ronnie McFall has refused to comment on his own future, but the Portadown manager believes that when David Jeffrey steps down as Linfield boss at the end of the season the Irish League will be a poorer place.

McFall is in the final year of his contract at Shamrock Park and Jeffrey's decision to leave his post at Windsor Park has sparked rumours that he will replace the iconic Ports boss, who has been in charge since 1986.

The course of history would have been changed if McFall has been successful in his bid to sign Jeffrey 32 years ago when he was Glentoran manager and despite being managerial rivals for almost two decades, there is a great mutual respect between the pair.

"David obviously has his own reasons for making the decision that he has," said McFall, who will go head-to-head with Jeffrey when Portadown face Linfield at Shamrock Park this afternoon.

"When you look at his record he has done a tremendous job – 31 trophies and six doubles speaks for itself.

"It's unprecedented and to do that at Linfield, with the pressure that brings, deserves great credit.

"He is a big personality in the game and the Irish League will be a lesser place without him."

McFall did manage to get Jeffrey in a Glentoran shirt, but only once before he joined Linfield and won every honour available – other than the Irish Cup – in 10 years as a player at Windsor Park.

"I've had a good relationship with David for a long time," said McFall.

"When he came back from Manchester United as a teenager I tried to sign him. He played for Glentoran, actually against Manchester United, in a friendly to mark the club's centenary, but he wanted to go to Linfield."

And McFall is in no doubt that Jeffrey's managerial ability has been the biggest factor in his trophy-laden 17-year spell at Windsor Park – and not money.

"It doesn't matter how much money you have to spend, you need to know what to do with it," said McFall.

"You need to know who the right players are to sign and then you have to manage them in the right way.

"You need to be tactically astute too and no manager achieves success without having those qualities. You can't do it on money alone."

Despite his relationship with Jeffrey, McFall intends to put a dent Jeffrey's hopes of winning a 10th league title this afternoon, with the Ports now focused on claiming a European place after their own title hopes faded.

"Our biggest problem is the size of our squad, which is dictated by finance," said McFall.

"Qualifying for Europe is our main objective and we've only lost one of our last eight."

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