Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 25 December 2014

Glentoran boss McDonald's got the Axe Factor

Glentoran boss Alan McDonald
Glentoran boss Alan McDonald

Glentoran boss Alan McDonald is set to wield the axe on his side after their midweek horror show against Ballymena United.

The former Northern Ireland captain is still spitting feathers at the awful performance which saw the champions go down 2-0 to the, then bottom of the table, Braidmen.

Now they face high-flying League of Ireland table-toppers Bohemians in the Setanta Sports Cup (5.30pm) — not an easy game in which to try and bounce back.

McDonald shot out of the Oval just minutes after the final whistle, such was his anger — but not before telling his players, what assistant manager George Neill described in the boss’ absence as, ‘a few home truths’.

That was probably putting it mildly and it seems the manager’s blood is still boiling as he sets about dropping those he feels had a hand in turning in what he felt was one of the worst displays of his tenure.

“The worrying thing for me was that it wasn’t as if it (Ballymena’s capabilities) wasn’t mentioned,” he said.

“We’d had Ballymena watched and although they were bottom of the league we felt that they were still going to be difficult to play against.

“They had been unlucky in a couple of their games and we had it drummed into the players how hard this was going to be.

“We spoke about it in training, we spoke about it before the match, we spoke about it at half time, but it seems we didn’t get through to them.

“I can’t put my finger on it because in terms of the management staff we were well prepared so you will have to ask the players what happened.

“The word ‘complacency’ comes into it I think.

“They had received all the plaudits after the first four games, but I told them to forget that. I am always focused on the next game so for them to go out and shoot themselves in the foot was hard to take.”

McDonald added: “It was totally unacceptable. The players have set their standards, I have my standards that I expect and they weren’t met.

“So there will be quite a few changes (for the team to face Bohemians) and anyone who is left out will have no complaints.

“It was a very, very, poor performance, possibly as bad as I have seen them play.

“Ballymena looked hungrier than us and that comes down to attitude.

“They are good players, they wouldn’t be here otherwise, but they can’t play like that and expect to be successful. So a big, big performance is needed to make up for it.”

On storming out of the Oval after the game, McDonald admitted: “I was going through a whole host of emotions, none of them very nice.

“I just didn’t feel that it was the right time to open up about it because I was very angry.

“Things were said in the dressing room that I won’t go into, but as was said, I told them what I felt.”

McDonald will now hope to draw a line under ‘Black Wednesday’ and concentrate on causing a shock against Bohemians.

Former Linfield favourite Pat Fenlon brings his side north to the Oval with the favourites tag stamped firmly on the team bus.

But Glentoran have been here before and upset the odds along the way.

St Pat’s travelled to Belfast last year, were expected to ease to victory, and although they dominated, Daryl Fordyce’s goal after just six minutes sealed a famous win for the Glens.

The east-Belfast men then defied the odds by going on to reach the final only to lose out to Cork City at Turner’s Cross.

It is going to take a display similar to those shown in that remarkable run if Glentoran are going to take anything from this

particular game, but McDonald is relishing the opportunity to take on the underdog role.

“It’s going to be a very tough match, but I am looking forward to it for more than one reason,” he said. “First of all I am looking for a reaction from the players, but as well as that it’s a good chance for us to go out without the pressure of the league hanging over us.

“Bohemians are a good side, I have had them watched and will get that report and mull over it.

“I’ve also spoken to a few people I know down there who have played against them so we are well briefed.”

He added: “We had a great run last year and caused a few shocks along the way and the boys really enjoyed what was something of a fairytale run.”

Keith Gillespie was expected to at least be on the bench but if McDonald is making wholesale changes, don’t be surprised if the former Northern Ireland international winger is called in for a starting berth.

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