Darren Murphy says the criticism David Jeffrey is being subjected to is “unjust” and he hopes Linfield chiefs remain loyal to the manager that has brought the club historic success.
Jeffrey is facing his toughest period as Linfield boss as he closes in on 16 years in the Windsor Park hotseat.
Despite masterminding six doubles in seven seasons, the Linfield faithful are the most demanding in the business and frustration has deepened after the IRN-BRU League Cup semi-final defeat to Crusaders.
The Blues are clinging to their Gibson Cup dream — languishing 14 points behind league leaders Cliftonville.
And the winter of discontent continued when Ballymena United ended their trophy famine with a penalty shoot-out victory over Jeffrey’s men in the County Antrim Shield decider.
Today’s fifth round Irish Cup draw takes on added significance but Blues supporters are deeply concerned at the lack of consistency in their performances this season.
Linfield legend Glenn Ferguson has argued that players Jeffrey brought to the club need to stand up and be counted — repay the manager’s faith in them.
What the Blues boss needs now from his employers is time to shake up the squad in January and put things right.
The 50-year-old has been down this road before — on a few occasions he thought the club might seek a new direction but while supporters vent their fury, most people involved in the game recognise the reality that there is no better man to guide the club out the doldrums than Jeffrey.
Murphy, who played under the former Ards defender at Linfield, takes his Dungannon Swifts side to Windsor on Saturday. He fully expects a backlash in south Belfast. “Some of the criticism David is getting is unjust,” said Murphy. “Those people need to look at the success he has brought to the club. A man who has won six doubles in seven years deserves support and respect.
“No-one will be hurting more at Linfield than David because he is such a passionate supporter who has worked so hard for the club.
“What other club in another league has done what Linfield have done? Rangers won a lot of league titles in a row but they weren’t winning consecutive doubles.
“The added pressure on the manager and players comes from that success but you can’t win all the time in football. When I was at Linfield we struggled for a season, lost the league to Glentoran on ‘Morgan Day’ but bounced back by winning the Setanta Cup.
“We are just at the half-way mark in the season and Linfield can still turn things around in the league and win the Irish Cup. What David and the players have achieved is unheard of in the game and they are just going through a testing period.
“The board and fans should get behind the manager and players and support them. I was fortunate to play for David and I still look up to him. Stability is important and you can see that in football when Sir Alex Ferguson has been at Manchester United for so long. Managers can be sacked too quickly.”
Murphy added: “It’s the worst time for us to face Linfield this weekend but there is no pressure on us. We want to get a result and we have the confidence to do just that.”