Darren Murphy has advised Cliftonville to throw up the ‘Closed for Business’ signs throughout January if they are to realise their dream of lifting the Irish Premiership title.
The Reds retained their nine points lead at the summit with a comfortable victory over Dungannon Swifts at Solitude thanks to goals from Liam Boyce and George McMullan — and visiting boss Murphy believes hanging on to their star man could prove the difference between lifting the Gibson Cup and not.
“I’m sure there’ll be plenty of interest in Liam Boyce and it all depends on whether or not Cliftonville can resist any offers that might come in,” said Murphy.
“If I were Tommy Breslin, I’d be telling the chairman that none of the players is for sale, though I suppose that’s easier said than done in reality.
“The way I see it is, although they would probably get a decent amount of money for him, nothing compares to winning the Championship.
And they’d get a decent cheque for doing that as well, so the money would still come in one way or the other.
“Cliftonville are a great side with quality all over the park but I know from my time with Linfield that winning titles requires a great goalscorer and Boyce is one of the best about at the minute.
“We could always rely on Glenn Ferguson doing the business for us and Liam would be very similar to him in stature and the way he can hold the ball up and bring others into play.
“Every good team has that one special player that’s the focal point of everything they do and, though Joe Gormley, Diarmuid O’Carroll, Stephen Garrett and Jody Lynch aren’t half bad themselves, Boyce is their main man and, if they can hold on to him, they could go on to win the league.
“They’re top of the table because that’s where they deserve to be and they’re in a great position which I’m sure they don’t want to be looking back on and wondering what might have been.”
Boyce took his goals tally to 20 for the season when he nodded home unmarked from Lynch’s 35th minute corner and McMullan made safe the points with a second-half spot kick, much to Breslin’s satisfaction.
The Reds boss said: “We weren’t at our best but our attitude was right, which was pleasing. We didn’t underestimate Dungannon and I think that showed in our performance throughout.”