Cliftonville boss Eddie Patterson has told his players to forget about their recent European adventure as they prepare for a belated kick-off to their Carling Premiership programme.
The Reds’ scheduled curtain-raiser with Portadown last Saturday was postponed due to its close proximity with their Europa League date with CSKA Sofia and, ahead of tomorrow’s trip to Newry, Patterson has issued a reminder that private jets, hotel stays and daily training sessions are a world away from what the next nine months will bring.
“We’re back to what we know best — football on cold, wet, windy Tuesday nights, certainly nothing like what we’ve experienced over the last month or so,” he explained.
“We enjoyed a wee taste of what a lot of full-time professionals sample on a weekly basis in their various European trips but it’s over and done with now and, as proud as we are of the results we achieved and how we performed, it’s consigned to history.
“If we want another crack at it next summer, then we have to get our heads down and start the hard work here and now because European football is not something that’s handed to you on a plate, you have to earn it.”
Though by no means wholesale, Patterson made a sprinkling of changes to his squad over the summer with Eamonn Seydak joining from Institute and Declan O’Hara signing for Donegal Celtic.
Arguably his most significant move — save perhaps for the return of Peter Hutton’s reassuring presence at the back — was the capture of striker Stephen Garrett from tomorrow’s opponents, who brought midfield duo Conor Downey and Francis Murphy in the opposite direction, transfers which will doubtless lend a little extra spice to proceedings at The Showgrounds.
“Players always like to do well against their former clubs and I’m sure all of them will be keen to impress, but there’s a much bigger issue at stake,” he added.
“We want to begin our campaign on a winning note and I’ll be asking the boys to go out and show the same attitude and discipline which served them so well in Europe. If they do that, then we stand a chance.”