Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 20 September 2014

It’s all Rosy as Linfield boss David Jeffrey plots Champion's League shock

Linfield manager David Jeffrey

David Jeffrey is braced for a Rosenborg backlash tonight but he hasn’t lost any sleep worrying about it.

The Norwegian giants are still fuming at their failure to batter the Blues into submission at Windsor Park last week.

The visitors drew a blank as a resolute and spirited Linfield side refused to play the role of mere whipping boys.

Irish League clubs have started to believe in themselves on the European stage, with Portadown and Cliftonville also refusing to raise the white flag.

Jeffrey has seen his side perform heroics on the continent but the shut out job on Rosenborg was his finest hour.

Tonight, though, promises to be an even tougher Champions League assignment for the Carling Premiership champions in Trondheim (7.45pm).

Rosenborg want to put the Blues firmly back in their box and that means a Norwegian bombardment must be beaten off.

Their legendary coach Nils Arne Eggen couldn’t contain his anger when it was put to him that there was little difference between his full-time side and Jeffrey’s men.

A defeat would be Rosenborg’s biggest European debacle, but Linfield should feel no pressure as they have already won plenty of pride and respect.

“We put in such a ginormous performance in the first leg and we are certainly going to have to repeat that performance again to have any chance of going through,” said Jeffrey.

“Rosenborg bought and built their stadium on the back of funding achieved through Europe so that tells us how strong they are.

“But Irish League teams are now enjoying fantastic results after being lambasted for years. I think there is a very different approach and changing mentality with regard to the European games and that has given teams a shot at getting through.

“We should now be proud of what we are achieving. I have told the players that they are allowed to dream but they should also stay realistic.

“Rosenborg are massive favourites. I don’t think there was any complacency on their part at Windsor, I felt our level of performance surprised them but now that surprise element has gone.”

The Norwegians failed to do their homework in the first leg of the qualifier — they should have known that reputations are not respected at Windsor Park.

Northern Ireland have embarrassed a few big guns on the international stage and Linfield can still dream of a European miracle.

It’s going to take another heroic defensive performance and some clinical finishing — most likely from their ace marksman Peter Thompson — to achieve the unthinkable.

“Obviously we have to minimise our mistakes and take any chances that come our way,” added boss Jeffrey as he recalled previous near misses in Europe.

“I remember when Robert Garrett burst through in the first

game he shot at goal when Peter (Thompson) was in a better position to score. It’s those little things that will be decisive.

“When we played Elfsborg, Mark Dickson put the ball inches over the bar. In games like this you need everything to go for you.”

Jeffrey has tasted plenty of highs and more than a few lows as Linfield manager but the European adventures always get his juices flowing.

“I’m extremely proud to be manager of this great club going into our 14th full season,” he added. “What we have achieved has been phenomenal and we have been the best Irish League team in Europe over that period.

“I can remember being in Norway when I was captain of Linfield and two members of the Old Wellington Supporters’ Club, David Browne senior and junior, made arduous and long journeys to get here.

“ They were the only two members on the trip, they travelled overnight and it made me feel proud to represent the club.

“Memories like that are absolutely fantastic and hopefully we can create a few more.”

Jeffrey may select the same side that started the first leg, while Michael Gault and JP Gallagher have not made the trip as they remain in the treatment room.

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