Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 21 September 2014

Linfield wonder where it all went right this time

By the time the clock had struck 5.00pm on Saturday, there was an all too familiar sight emanating from the lush Windsor Park surface on Saturday — Linfield players celebrating the capturing of yet another trophy.

While it was almost inevitable if even the most ardent Portadown fans are honest with themselves, those of a blue hue can equally dip into their memory bank and admit to themselves that just a few months ago, they couldn’t have imagined such a scenario taking place.

A year after finishing the campaign without a single honour, Linfield were back doing what they do best and clinching an almost unbelieveable fourth league and cup double in five years.

But rewind back to the turn of the year and anyone who held the belief that the Blues would end up with anything other than a big box of nothing would have most feeling they had taken leave of their senses.

Between November 21 and January 26 Linfield David Jeffrey’s men won just twice in 10 games in all competitions.

It put immense pressure on the boss and it was revealed that his ‘position had been discussed’ — to give it its ambigious description — by the club’s management committee.

But then came a turning point. Peter Thompson was back at the club and after a week or so, had settled back into life at Windsor Park, bringing with him a completely new armoury — strength, more pace and the ability to bring other players into the game more than he ever did in his first spell.

In short, he was a quicker Glenn Ferguson.

The tide turned and, with the challengers unable to put together any sort of consistency, the youngsters who had been criticised for not having the mental strength to deal with life at Linfield stepped up to the plate, helped in no small part by the golden oldies still scattered throughout the squad.

Saturday provided a complete exorcism of the horror of that miserable run and the trophyless season last term. And you can’t help but praise Jeffrey for presiding over that quite remarkable achievement.

His ability to still cut it at the helm of the club he loves was called into question and he has answered those critics in the way he knows best — by bringing even more glory to Windsor.

Should the Bluemen, who were trying to hound him out at the early part of this year, feel embarrassed?

No, they were well within their rights to voice their disapproval and Jeffrey knows more than anyone that what you have won in the past means nothing if you aren’t carrying it through in the present.

But Linfield fans may just now, at least, think twice before calling for heads to roll when the team hit a sticky patch.

For leading them into battle, they have a man in Jeffrey who, like no one else on these shores, can turn things around and ensure that, come the end of the season, there will nearly always be a party in the Park.

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