Michael Gault last night revealed that the ‘crisis’ talk which, almost inevitably, follows every Linfield defeat is a motivating factor for the Blues players.
Like everyone else with an affinity to the champions the midfield star was stung by Saturday’s 4-2 defeat against Cliftonville and the reaction that followed.
Not that the Windsor Park captain will need much motivation come tomorrow night.
Linfield and Glentoran go head-to-head at The Oval, in one of the most eagerly awaited meetings between in the clubs in years — mainly because the scheduled game three weeks ago was postponed.
Sky Sports are so interested that they’ve brought their cameras back to Belfast to screen what they have branded the ‘Bel-clasico.’
When Belfast’s Big Two clash, what has gone before doesn’t matter.
The fact that the Glens are unbeaten in seven games and Linfield have two of their last three games — both to Cliftonville — is as relevant as whether you prefer red or brown sauce on your hotdog.
“We can’t win every game, but every time we lose one or two it’s always a crisis,” said Gault.
“We had a run of wins not too long ago, but nobody outside the club talked about that.
“That’s what it’s like at Linfield though. It doesn’t annoy us, it just gets us going.
“It’s a compliment that we’re such a big scalp for everyone else.
“We may have lost a couple of games, but we’re still top of the league with the chance to open up a five point lead and every other team in the league would swap places with us.
“We know that teams are going to raise their game against us, we’re used to it now.
“We signed Albert Watson, Daryl Fordyce and Rory Patterson in the summer and they are all quality players.
“Others clubs see us as having the biggest squad and supposedly the better players and I know if I was playing against Linfield I’d be raising my game and I’d want to prove something as well.”
Linfield manager David Jeffrey (pictured) made no secret of his anger after Saturday’s defeat to Cliftonville as he revealed a frank discussion had taken place in the dressing room in the immediate aftermath of the game.
And while the Blues boss would readily admit that he is an admirer of Sir Alex Ferguson — why wouldn’t he, given the Manchester United manager’s record of success? — the ‘hairdryer’ treatment that the Old Trafford boss is famed for isn’t required in the Linfield dressing room.
“We are all experienced players and we know when we haven’t played well ,” said Gault.
“Shouting at us won’t make any difference, but the manager does let us know when he’s not happy or when we’ve done something wrong.
“It’s a bit like a schoolboy getting called into the headmaster’s office, you just hope he goes easy on you.
“If you’re at fault and someone else gets a telling off first you hope that he’s forgot about you.
“The manager wants the same thing as the players though; we all feel gutted when we lose.
“We haven’t been under any extra pressure in the last few weeks because there is always pressure, whether we’re top of the league or not. We just have to make sure we’re not complacent.”
Rather than being in a relaxed mood, it seems that Linfield’s attitude will be just short of ‘win at all costs.’
“It is 100% vital that we respond to the Cliftonville defeat with a win,” said Gault.
“It doesn’t matter who it’s against.
“It just happens that the next game is away to Glentoran — our biggest rivals and a team that has already beaten us this season.
“No disrespect to any of the other teams in the league, we’d have the same attitude if it was Glenavon or Dungannon Swifts.
“The first thing we’re looking for is the result and the three points; that’s the same in every game.
“After that hopefully we can go out and play well.
“It’s not as vital that we put in a good performance, but it would be nice if we could do that.
“We owe the fans because even when we were losing at Cliftonville they were great. They were getting behind us and really tried to help us get back into the game.
“We owe the manager a performance too.”