Eddie Patterson’s mantra has always been to take things one challenge at a time.
Nobody at Cliftonville is allowed to look any further ahead than the next game and, with supporters eager to see their team react to Irish Cup elimination by making a surge towards Europe, Patterson remains defiant in his outlook, knowing that continental qualification can only be secured following the achievement of a top six place in the Carling Premiership.
That in itself depends on the team acquiring a sufficient points return from their eight remaining pre-split fixtures — adding further weight to the manager’s call for the one game at a time approach to continue.
“Once you start looking beyond what’s immediately in front of you, you get distracted from the job in hand,” said Patterson, whose side face Ballymena United at Solitude tomorrow.
“Yes, there are certain targets we would all like to reach but there’s no sense in getting ahead of yourself — especially not in a League which regularly produces so many twists and turns. Take your eye off the ball for a second and you can get punished.”
Cliftonville produced their best result of the season so far when the Braidmen last visited Solitude; a 5-0 victory back in November which Patterson believes will only serve to inspire Roy Walker’s men for revenge.
“They will be out to prove a point and show how good they are,” he said.
“Let’s not forget that, while they’re eight points behind us in the table, they also have two games in hand, so beating us would give them a real boost towards overtaking us in the standings.”
The Reds defeated Glenavon on Monday evening to boost their chances of a high finish, but again that mantra of ‘one game at a time’ looms large.
“When we were put out of the Cup by Warrenpoint, the players were really hurting and they wanted to show that they still had the character and heart to do well for this club — but all their focus was on the Glenavon game on Monday,” Patterson insisted.
“They weren’t coming out and saying they would do this, that or the other for the remainder of the season; it was all about preparing for the next game and taking things from there.
“We played well and got a good three points at Mourneview and now we hope to do the same when we play Ballymena. After that, it’s whoever our next opponents are and so on. Take it one at a time and you give yourself a chance of getting the best end result.”
Cliftonville’s Football Development Centre will receive a timely boost thanks to a fan-organised fundraiser at Solitude on Saturday night (7.30pm).
A quiz and karaoke evening has been arranged in a bid to supply new kits to the Reds’ underage teams and club legend Mickey Donnelly has got in on the act as well by donating his matchworn jersey from the 2003 CIS Cup Final to be auctioned on the night, with online bids currently being welcomed via the Reds’ official website.