Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 2 September 2014

Glentoran star Gillespie slams Big Mac attack

Keith Gillespie has hit out at the nature and level of criticism dished out to Glentoran manager Alan McDonald after last Saturday’s 6-0 defeat to Coleraine.

And the former international winger is pleased that his ex-Northern Ireland team-mate is going to remain in charge at the Oval.

A group of supporters stayed behind after the match to call for McDonald’s exit, but that was mild compared to what happened later on.

It emerged 48 hours later that McDonald’s mobile telephone number had been circulated among some so-called fans, who then sent abusive text messages to the manager.

And Gillespie is angered that those individuals crossed a line.

“The lads are delighted that Alan McDonald is staying,” said Gillespie.

“The problems come down to us a players, we were the ones who went out last Saturday and underperformed.

“We’re responsible, but the manager has been big enough to take the criticism on his shoulders and he wouldn’t be in football if he couldn’t handle criticism.

“When it reaches the level it did last weekend though it’s not on. In Northern Ireland we are proud of our fans and the international supporters were given an award for the way they behave and get behind the team.

“There is no need for a manager to get such personal abuse, it was uncalled for and when it gets to the level of sending abusive text messages it is over the top.

“This is the manager who won the league last season, just six months ago. We’re still well placed to retain it and Alan is working hard, doing all he can to retain it.”

The Glens will look to recover when they face Crusaders at Seaview tomorrow afternoon and they will now also face a massive month in December as yesterday’s Co-operative Insurance Cup quarter-final draw means three Big Two battles with Linfield in as many weeks.

“We’ve been through a difficult period, but now we must use the performance and result when we beat Glenavon on Tuesday night as the yardstick and put last Saturday behind us,” said Gillespie.

“It was a bit surreal playing in the game against Coleraine because we don’t expect to lose 6-0, certainly not when we’re defending champions.

“We’ve had a meeting and said that performances like that can’t continue. We’ve got to turn the corner.”

On the prospect of three mega clashes with Belfast rivals Linfield, Gillespie said: “I have only played in one Big Two game, but there is a lot of passion involved and will to win.

“I’ve played in other derby games and although the crowds might have been bigger, the passion and rivalry are just the same no matter where you go.

“We’ve three big games coming against Linfield and hopefully we can come out on top overall.”

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