David Jeffrey sat back in his chair at Ballyskeagh yesterday and breathed a sigh of relief.
Only the man himself understands the pressure he was under this season to deliver the club’s 50th league title in their 125th anniversary year.
There were some scary moments — and it’s during those moments that you really find out who your friends are.
However, the players proved there was no need to panic or lose faith and Jeffrey, after thanking his men personally in the dressing room after the game, continued his tribute to the assembled media.
“The players’ attitude needed to be right and they needed to be tuned in. If that was the case they would see the job through.
“To win 4-0 is testimony to the players. To win in such style is absolutely phenomenal. They deserve every amount of credit and praise.
“The players that we have here know why they are here and that is to win trophies — they are not there to pick up shedloads of money.
“I would never fall out with a player over money and different people have different motivations but this group have a desire to win trophies and they have done fantastically well. They are brilliant and I am so proud of them.”
Jeffrey also couldn’t resist a gentle swipe at Crusaders who pushed Linfield in the title race and will wrestle with them in the Irish Cup decider.
“All I hear about is this wee club from the Shore Road — I have never thought of Crusaders as a wee club from the Shore Road,” he said. “But what I do know is that in terms of pressure and expectation there is no club on the island of Ireland that has the demand, where you have to win, win, win all of the time.
“There is no club north or south that has got to put up with that. But the players have stood up and handled that pressure and expectation brilliantly.”
Linfield’s 50th title success has been an extraordinary team effort but it has needed the guidance of experienced campaigners such as Jeffrey, Noel Bailie and William Murphy to get the side over the line.
“Some of our younger players did go off form a bit and senior players like Murphy and (Steven) Douglas came in and they put in some shift,” added Jeffrey. “You have had the resurgence of Michael Gault who has been enormous. Noel (Bailie) hasn’t featured as much but his presence and influence has been very significant.”