Belfast Telegraph

Friday 26 December 2014

Mannus’ sights are solely on the Shield for Linfield

Alan Mannus admits that he doesn't care what the name on the trophy is right now — he just wants to win it.

After the Blues well documented poor run of form they have stopped the rot recently with an emphatic win over Cliftonville and Saturday's draw with Newry City.

Now they have the opportunity to really show that the mini-crisis is well and truly over by claiming the first trophy of the season, tonight.

They welcome Cliftonville to Windsor Park for the County Antrim Shield decider and Mannus knows that the level of expectation from the Linfield faithful has not been lowered.

"People say that it would be a big boost to go and win the first competition of the season, but it is immaterial to us whether it is the first trophy or the third or fourth or whatever," he said.

"Regardless of whenever a final comes about we are expected to win it and we want to win it.

"I don't think you can say that if we win it then it'll launch us into the rest of the season or anything like that.

"We want to win it simply because we want to win the competition alone."

Mannus is also keen to dismiss the affect last week's 4-0 win over Cliftonville may have on this evening's game.

On that particular occasion the Blues bounced back in style in front of the Sky Sports cameras to record a resounding win — their first in five outings.

It was also the first game played at the reopened Solitude, in front of their new stand.

Despite that Mannus does not believe that it will have any major baring on the outcome as they face each other just eight days later.

"I don't think that is going to matter much to be honest," Mannus added.

"What happened last Monday night isn't really going to matter come Tuesday night.

"I can't see anything that has gone before making a difference once the game kicks off.

"You see it all the time when teams play each other in quick succession.

"And it's no different when we're playing Cliftonville now.

"You can never predict the outcome of a game on recent form or even recent form against each other.

"Every team in the competition would want to beat us in the final and Cliftonville will be no different I'm sure."

At the opposite end of the pitch to Mannus his team mates had not netted for three games until that resounding win in north-Belfast.

"We were obviously very pleased with that win, but again I say that people expect us to win almost every game at Linfield,” he said.

"People say it was great to score four goals after not getting any in those few games, but it as all about getting back to winning ways again and we were glad we did."

As for Mannus himself, some have joked that he will be happy if he has as quiet of night at Windsor tonight as he did at Solitude last week.

However the Northern Ireland goalkeeper is gracious enough to admit that his counterpart John Connolly wasn't too much busier than himself last week.

"It doesn't really matter about having a quiet night or not, as long as I keep a clean sheet then I would be happy,” he said.

"John Connolly didn't have that much more to do than I did last week, bar the goals and I don't think there's much he could have done about those.

"However, Stuart Addis has played in the County Antrim Shield so far, so it will all depend on me actually being selected as well."

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