Michael Gault won’t allow the disappointment of being dumped out of the Irish Cup to derail Linfield’s battle to win a fourth successive league title.
Instead the Windsor Park captain is determined to maintain the momentum built up during a 10-match unbeaten run in the Premiership and push leaders Cliftonville all the way in the pursuit of the Gibson Cup.
And with the league the last piece of silverware now available to the Blues, Gault is refusing to contemplate a trophy-less season, even though the Reds are 16 points ahead of them.
“Everyone throughout the club is gutted that we are out of the Irish Cup, from the supporters, the directors, the players, the manager and the backroom staff — but that’s the way it should be,” said Gault.
“If you’re not disappointed at getting knocked out of the cup they you shouldn’t be at Linfield.
“We have to turn that round. The situation in the league is the same as it was, but we’re now unbeaten in 10 games, so our world hasn’t fallen apart on us.
“We’re still fighting to win the league and it goes without saying that at Linfield we will never give up.”
And Gault is now adopting a siege mentality, with Linfield’s focus on winning their remaining 13 league games in the hope that will be enough to claw back Cliftonville.
“We’re not stupid, Cliftonville are 16 points ahead of us and it doesn’t take a brain surgeon to work out that pulling that back is going to be tough, but nothing really had changed for us,” said Gault, as the Blues face Dungannon Swifts tonight in what is effectively a game in hand over Cliftonville and Crusaders.
“At Linfield the expectation is to win every game — even pre-season friendlies — and teams celebrate even getting a draw against us and everyone raises their game.
“We’ll be going out to try to win every game from now until the end of the season and we have to believe that we are capable of doing that.”
Being so far back in the title race in new territory for Gault. He’s used to winning, having been a champion six times in the last seven years and been part of league-winning teams before that too.
Alan Blayney’s broken finger, which will rule him out for another five weeks as well as the impending departure of Albert Watson and Daryl Fordyce to Canada, have put a dent in Linfield’s quest to overhaul Cliftonville, but it won’t affect Gault’s focus on the job in hand.
“We have to hope that Cliftonville slip-up somewhere along the line, because even with a game in hand and another game against Cliftonville to come winning those wouldn’t be enough for us to overtake them,” said Gault.
“All we can do is look after ourselves, control what we can control and hope that is enough.
“If Cliftonville go on and win all of their games they will win the league and there is nothing that we can do about that.
“What we can do is go out and win every game and see where that takes us and hope that it is enough.”