Eddie Patterson has admitted his surprise at the news David Jeffrey's 17-year managerial reign at Linfield is coming to an end.
The Glentoran boss will watch his team go into battle against a Linfield side managed by Jeffrey for the last time at the Oval tomorrow night (7.45pm).
Both sides will clash in a battle at Windsor Park after the league split but this will be the final time Jeffrey will be given his traditional warm welcome at the east-Belfast venue. Sky Sports cameras will be there to capture the historic moment and Patterson admits the break-up of one of the Irish League's longest partnerships is eyebrow raising news.
"I'm actually a wee bit shocked by the news," said Patterson.
"His record is second to none and of course he has been compared to Roy Coyle which is an indication of how deeply he is respected. Fair dues to him for stating his position and now it's over to his players in the dressing room to follow his instructions on the pitch and end the season on a high.
"Saturday proved a point as they hammered Ballinamallard United 6-0 and if they go on to win the league it will be a remarkable achievement beating a very strong Cliftonville side.
"I wonder whether he has anything lined up. I hope he stays in the game, whether it's the Irish League or in the south.
"I coached his kids and our relationship has existed for a long time. When I got the Glentoran job and I met him for the first time face to face, he did warn me that I had joined the dark side and our friendship mightn't be the same!
"He's Linfield through and through and I know managers sometimes say things to each other which could be interpreted as hurtful but that's just the passion and adrenaline pumping. There is mutual respect there as we all want to do drive our team."
Jeffrey knows his side must win at the Oval to stay in pole position to recapture the Gibson Cup but they will expect no favours from the old enemy.
"We need the points too as we want to stay in the top six," added Patterson. "It doesn't matter who the opposition is – we want to win the game to get back on track and we have slipped away in recent matches and unfortunately the squad is being stretched with injuries and suspensions and that against the backdrop of the senior players we have lost.
"On a positive front Ryan O'Neill is coming back from America and will rejoin us in the summer."
Patterson has been "knocked for six" by a serious chest infection but he hopes to attend tomorrow's clash. "I hope to be at The Oval but I don't expect to be in the dugout," added the former Cliftonville boss."I've been in hospital receiving injections and antibiotics and I'm still not 100% recovered
"I had something similar a year ago but nothing as serious as this."