Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 20 August 2014

Silver lining is Glentoran's goal

Northern Ireland- 23rd February 2013 Mandatory Credit - Photo-Jonathan Porter/Presseye. Danske bank Premiership - Lisburn Distillery v Glentoran. Glentoran manager Eddie Patterson.

When bosses win Manager of the Month awards, it's customary for them to deflect the praise onto the players.

It's the done thing – 'I wouldn't be picking up this award if it wasn't for the players.'

Of course that's always true but it's the manager who makes sure all the pieces of the jigsaw are in the right place.

And Glentoran boss Eddie Patterson has had one complicated jigsaw on his hands this season.

The financial turbulence which has struck the east Belfast club has caused significant damage, not least to the image of the famous institution.

But one thing the financial hardship hasn't shattered is the spirit in the Oval dressing room.

If anything, it has brought the management and players closer together – they have no other option but to do their jobs to the best of their ability.

European football is still a dream, but only time will tell if the cash-strapped club is granted a Uefa licence.

However, there is still the prospect of a fairytale finish to a turbulent season.

Could the Glens, despite having to weather a horrendous financial storm, be on course to win the Irish Cup for the first time since 2004?

What a silver lining to the grey cloud that would be, considering the players and management have battled on without receiving their wages on a few occasions this season.

The players could have gone on strike but they haven't. Yes, there is frustration and some anger there but fans can no longer question their commitment to the cause.

There was no stampede of players out of the Oval in January. The summer time will see the revolving door spring into action but a few of those players could be leaving with an Irish Cup winner's medal around their necks.

Former Cliftonville boss Patterson, as he cherishes his seventh Manager of the Month gong following an impressive February, has good reason to heap praise on his players.

"Total credit must go to the players and backroom staff who have kept the boys on their toes in training," said the Glens boss who takes his side to Ballymena United tomorrow.

"It's well known we have players who are dependent on the income the club can provide but it has not always been forthcoming.

"When things at home can affect you, you are not getting a happy player and there was always the chance they could switch off and the form isn't there.

"But the commitment and attitude of the players has been fantastic. They have knuckled down and shown their true character for sometimes three nights in training every week and taking it onto the pitch on a Saturday.

"We couldn't have asked for a better month than we enjoyed in February. To be unbeaten in the league says it all about the attitude of the players and the determination to finish the season on a high."

One of Patterson's shining lights during a dark period has been classy winger Stephen Carson. The former Northern Ireland international may yet make it third time lucky in cup deciders after defeats in the Irish Cup and CIS Cup finals.

"Times have been tough but all we can do as players is put our heads down and try to give a good account of ourselves," said the former Rangers ace.

"We have worked extremely hard all season and in times like this you either lie down or stand up and be counted.

"Last year against Newington was a bitter pill to swallow and it has been important for us this year to push on in the Irish Cup.

"In the semi-final we will be up against a very good Portadown team who have under-achieved this season. I've lost in two finals so it would be sweet to win one.

"I've been reasonably pleased with my own form and the gaffer has rested me when he has to – I'm an old man now!

"No-one is ecstatic about our position in the league. We are fourth but that is not a disappointing place when you consider everything that has happened this season.

"Now we are just looking to kick on, qualify for Europe and win a trophy. The team is capable of it but it will be tough."

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