Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 30 September 2014

Title will go to the wire, says Linfield's Mulgrew

Jamie Mulgrew feels Linfield have the players to recapture the Gibson Cup from Glentoran.

Recent uninspiring performances from the Blues have cast fresh doubt on the title-winning credentials of David Jeffrey’s side but the midfielder says all is not lost yet.

Jeffrey and his players have come under intense fire from disgruntled fans and a disappointing 2-0 defeat at Ballymena United on Saturday did nothing to allay their fears.

However, the midfielder is urging the Blues faithful not to panic and have faith in those who are wearing the famous jersey.

The stakes are high going into the Boxing Day showdown with Glentoran at the Oval on Saturday — the Glens are hardly firing on all cylinders themselves — but this is a time for holding nerve and showing character.

“I know football is a game of opinions and people will have their own view but I feel we have a squad of players capable of winning the league,” claimed the 22-year-old.

“Despite the poor run we have been on, we have top quality Irish League players and even if the manager chooses not to strengthen the club next month I feel we can win the league title.

“It’s all about belief and I’m a believer. We just have to get ourselves back on track.

“Some of our own supporters may be doubting us but I’m not and I’m sure my team-mates feel the same.

“This title race is going right to the wire.”

Linfield may still be among the title chasers and in the final of the County Antrim Shield but three consecutive defeats constitutes a crisis among their supporters.

And some of the faithful are questioning whether a change at the top is required.

Jeffrey is under growing pressure to pocket big prizes next year after last season’s trophyless campaign but the man himself knows he will be judged in May.

Mulgrew has won two titles under Jeffrey and he doesn’t believe that relationship will be broken any time soon.

“The view that David Jeffrey should lose his job as Linfield manager is just farcical,” he added.

“I can understand fans’ frustrations but they should not be calling for the manager to be sacked.

“All the players want David (Jeffrey) to stay in charge and we are in this together.

“This is my fifth season at Linfield and since I arrived at the club David has been superb and I have huge respect for him. I cannot imagine anyone else coming in and doing his job — it wouldn’t make any sense to me.

“I cannot believe that some fans want to see David lose his job — there’s only one word for that viewpoint and it is farcical.”

Mulgrew was one of Linfield’s better performers in the shocking defeat at Ballymena United and he remains the heartbeat of the team, but the former Glentoran man admits that fans have been badly let down.

“This game against Glentoran is a great opportunity to get back on track but it is going to demand a lot of effort and hard work,” Mulgrew added.

“All the players understand that and recognise that in the last few matches we have let down the manager, his backroom staff and the fans.

“As far as I am concerned this poor run Linfield have been on is unacceptable and loyal fans have every right to express their opinion. They pay money in a difficult economic climate to go to games and they aren’t happy with what they are seeing.

“They want to see their team win games with style and the players know they have to start delivering. Over the last six weeks ago we have been missing too many opportunities and it has come back to bite us where it hurts.

“But winning matches is not simply about scoring goals, it is also about keeping clean sheets and we haven’t been doing that either.

“You have to keep the back door shut and then hurt the opposition.

“All the players have jobs do to and and at times those jobs have not been done.

“Strikers are there to score goals but it is unfair to single them out for criticism.

“We have lost three games on the bounce which is almost unheard of at Linfield but we still have a game in hand on our rivals and we are among the teams at the top.”

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