Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 5 March 2015

Mannus pulls out stops to keep Linfield top

Alan Mannus is glad to see Linfield back where he believes they belong - at the top of the Premier League table
Alan Mannus is glad to see Linfield back where he believes they belong - at the top of the Premier League table

Linfield goalkeeper Alan Mannus has admitted it's a great feeling to be back at the top of the league and they have no intention relinquishing it.

The Blues were in fine festive form, recording three straight wins over the Christmas and New Year period and it's propelled them back to the summit of the table.

Northern Ireland international Mannus admits their focus must now be on hanging on to their newly found position — because no trophies are handed out at the start of the new year.

"Whenever we weren't top of the league and chasing Glentoran then we were saying that we weren't going to pay too much attention to the league table this early on and we have to say the same thing now," Mannus admits.

"If we don't make sure we hang onto this now and finish top come the end of the season then no-one will remember that we led the way in January.

"It's great to be where we are, but we can't lose any concentration, we must just focus on each game as it comes up.

“I think the 3-2 win over Crusaders at Seaview was the result that really got us going and set us off on the run we’ve had.

“Since then we’ve had good wins against Coleraine, obviously on Boxing Day against Glentoran and then Ballymena and Cliftonville in quick succession.

“They were all good results, but going and winning away from home against Crusaders was a great result.”

As well as hitting top spot, another major bonus for Mannus, in particular, has been conceding just one goal in their last four outings.

“It has been satisfying and the defence in front of me has done really well recently,” he said.

“In fact, it’s not just the defence but the guys in front of them, the midfielders and strikers have all been working hard and defending from the front.

“Everyone has been working really hard and that is what our success has been built on over the last few years.

“Conor Hagan has come back in and has done a great job at right back, as has Aidan O’Kane at left back. William Murphy has been great in front of me and obviously Steven Douglas has been getting a lot of plaudits and rightly so, because he has been everything that you want someone in front of a goalkeeper to be, after moving from his usual position.”

At the other end of the field, in Glenn Ferguson’s absence, Mannus has called for his team-mates to take the lead from Douglas and shine when called upon.

“We’ve got guys who can come in and do a great job, but they’re not just there to replace someone, there are plenty of players to come and make a position their own,” Mannus said.

“Steven Douglas has replaced Noel Bailie at the heart of the defence and has done a great job and that’s what you would look for while Spike is out injured and it allows someone to stake their own claim.

“Michael Carvill in particular has been in great form of late. He has pace to run at players and he can really frighten them when he goes at them.

“Mark Miskimmin came in and scored a goal we know he’s capable of on Saturday, as did Paul Munster and Robbie White always works really hard when he gets his chance.”

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