Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 23 September 2014

Glentoran boss Patterson reflects on Oval reign

Linfield boss David Jeffrey gives Patterson his own special welcome.
Linfield boss David Jeffrey gives Patterson his own special welcome.

One year ago Eddie Patterson became manager of Glentoran Football Club. What a turbulent time it has been since.

Every week there seems to be a story about Glentoran's perilous financial state.

If it's not tales of unpaid tax bills, it's players not getting their wages.

And nobody knows where it will end.

The worst case scenario is that the east Belfast club could go under.

All the while Patterson has had to try and get a committed, motivated team out on the pitch.

Eddie's former club Cliftonville look certainties to win the Irish League title and with that Solitude boss Tommy Breslin will rightly take the Manager of the Year honours, but Patterson deserves huge praise for what he has achieved at the Oval under such difficult circumstances.

The Glens, with Patterson's mix of youth and experience and his attractive playing style, are set to finish in the top six of the Irish League and are in the quarter-finals of the Irish Cup and Setanta Cup.

Before his surprise dismissal at Cliftonville in 2011, Patterson delivered much and in many ways set the foundations for the success the Reds are enjoying this season, but what he's been doing at Glentoran has arguably been even more impressive.

He has preferred to focus on the football side of things when interviewed, but today he speaks openly about the financial woes at the Oval and the impact they have had on him and the players, who earlier in the season opted not to train when, as has unfortunately been a regular occurrence, their wages weren't paid on time.

"The job definitely has not been what I expected," says Patterson.

"I didn't think the finances were as bad as they have turned out to be, but myself and the coaching staff have got our teeth into the job from a football perspective and we are really enjoying that and I have to say the players have been absolutely fantastic.

"They have been a joy to work with especially having to deal with not getting paid."

I ask as a manager how hard that is to deal with.

He pauses, then replies: "Basically when you are coming up to the end of every month, you are firefighting.

"You are trying to appease players and make training as enjoyable as possible and when it gets to the stage when the players are told their wages aren't coming in that's when your psychology just has to kick in.

"I'd say the hardest part of it has been dealing with the mental side of things because while the boys love their football that doesn't pay bills.

"That's why I stood by the players when they made the decision about not training, which only happened once.

"I know where the players are coming from.

"In our squad we have young students, whose only source of income comes from their football.

"They have to pay for their college and petrol expenses to get to training.

"It's the same for some of the senior players like Andy Waterworth and Stephen Carson because football is their only source of income.

"Also there are other players at the club who aren't working.

"When the situation about training cropped up I sat down with the coaching staff and we knew that we couldn't force players to train who could not afford to get to training."

It's worth noting that Patterson and his coaching staff have gone without wages too.

When the money does not roll in, Patterson's love for the game takes over.

He says he is in privileged position. Maybe it's Glentoran who are privileged to have him right now.

One year ago, Patterson signed a two and-a-half year deal.

Despite all that has happened in the past 12 months and the club's future still uncertain, the Oval boss, facing a massive cut in his budget for next season and the loss of several key players, says he wants to stay for a while longer so that he can finish the job he has started.

"I am committed, my only gripe now is that the financial situation has set us back.

"I got a two and-a-half year contract and at the end of this season there is a year to go and now I don't think we will fulfil what I wanted in that two and-a-half years," he says.

"If another contract was put in front of me I would sign it because I believe there is something happening at Glentoran Football Club."

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