Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 3 September 2014

Glentoran 2 Glenavon 0

It's been a difficult few weeks for Alan McDonald, but after this Carling Premiership victory the Glentoran boss appeared ready to take on the world again.

However, he was at pains to point out he wasn’t taking on the boo-boys.

McDonald was verbally abused by some fans following the 6-0 battering by Coleraine three weeks ago, a defeat that almost led to him quitting his post.

But after much soul-searching he decided to stick it out and refocus his attentions on helping the Glens retain the title for the first time in 40-odd years.

It was billed as a gutsy decision, a battle against his detractors.

However, the ex-Northern Ireland captain was keen to ensure this is not seen as a personal mission.

“The one thing I am not particularly comfortable with, and I don’t want to make it into an issue, but people were going on about Alan McDonald taking on the boo-boys. That’s not the way I see it,” he said following Saturday’s win over Glenavon garnered thanks to two goals from new dad Kyle Neill.

“Supporters support Glentoran Football Club. All I want is for all the fans to get behind the players, help them on the pitch because at the end of the day that’s where we need it.

“Get behind the players, get behind the team. We are not far away, it’s very, very tight. We are still in with a very, very good chance of hopefully doing what we want to do (retain the title). Let everybody get behind the players and try and help them as much as you can.

“It’s certainly not a case of me taking anybody on — that’s the last thing I want to do. As the manager I want to get everybody behind us and stay behind us.

“This is not about Alan McDonald in no way, shape or form. The thing that got to me and affected me really badly was, again, the performance and result against Coleraine. As I have said before, it shouldn’t happen to this club.

“It did happen, hopefully we have dealt with it. The response since then from the players and, I must say, the response from the majority of the fans, has been fabulous. I want what every Glentoran fan wants for this football club — to be successful.”

This was a new and refreshed McDonald. He looked as if the world had been lifted from his shoulders, helped by a decent display on the pitch.

The boss swapped the dug-out for the stands; his usual tracksuit for a neat shirt and tie and he even received a rare round of applause when taking his seat at the start of the game.

But there was nothing suspicious about his decision to take up a new vantage point.

“I said a couple of months ago to the chairman that I was thinking of watching the games from the stands because you do see a hell of a lot more and you notice things and can see clearer,” he added.

“And the communication with the dugout is fine. There was a couple of things that I wanted passed on that I was able to get on the pitch and tell the players.”

On and off the pitch it was quite a weekend for Kyle Neill.

His wife Lynette gave birth to the couple’s first child — baby boy, Jackson — on Friday and he celebrated by bagging a double, including a rare headed goal.

That, along with results elsewhere, promoted the Glens to second, three points behind Linfield and made it an almost perfect couple of days for the winger.

“It was a busy weekend, surely,” joked Neill. “But I couldn’t have asked for any better.

“Alan McDonald said don’t worry about the other results and he’s right, too, we just have to keep ourselves right.”

For Glenavon though, it was a sorry day and boss Marty Quinn didn’t shirk in his condemnation of the players.

“We are coming towards January and the transfer window is opening and I have made the players aware that I am going to strengthen this team,” he said.

“I have asked some of the boys if they want to be part of it and to a man they said they would like to be, but with performances like that, they won’t!”

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