David Jeffrey's managerial fire burns again as Ballymena United find form
David Jeffrey says he's "thoroughly enjoying" his early days as Ballymena United boss and feels the time he spent away from the dugout has given a broader understanding of what makes Irish League clubs rise or fall.
The Sky Blues are a rejuvenated force under the Linfield legend, unbeaten in five matches and victory at Carrick Rangers tomorrow could finally banish the threat of relegation that sparked a few sleepless nights.
Jeffrey, who succeeded Glenn Ferguson in March, has given the Braidmen a shake and can be proud of his record of three draws against Crusaders, Cliftonville and Glenavon as well as wins over Warrenpoint Town and Dungannon Swifts.
A few observers may have been surprised when the 53-year-old, who guided Linfield to 31 trophies over a 17-year period before leaving at the end of the 2013-14 season, agreed to reach for his famous stopwatch again and return to the sidelines at the Showgrounds, but Jeffrey is loving life on Warden Street.
"I didn't really know what to expect when I came back into management because it was very much an unexpected move," said Jeffrey who was the last Blues manager to win the title in 2012.
"I was thoroughly enjoying my time doing other media work including my Sunday Life column and it allowed me to stay involved in the game and develop a broader of understanding of how clubs work.
"There's a fear of failure which is a part of me and many other people and there's that desire to be the best and get the best out of your players.
"They are qualities that don't disappear but I have been given a much bigger appreciation and perspective on how clubs function and what can breed success.
"I'm always proud to promote the Irish League when I can and it's an honour and privilege for me to be Ballymena United manager.
"When Don Stirling (United vice-chairman) first contacted me about the United position I had to delay the talks as I wasn't ready for it, it was that much of a surprise.
"I did need a few days to think about things.
"At the end of the information gathering process it was a case of well why not get back involved?
"There's a period of readjustment and the butterflies in your belly come back, particularly at Seaview for the first game, but I'm thoroughly enjoying it and the players deserve all the credit.
"Brian McLaughlin and the backroom team have worked very hard to get the boys organised and motivated, but as any manager will tell you when the players cross the white line they have to perform and implement the tactics you worked on.
"Our results have been very encouraging and hopefully we can keep it going. The focus remains on consolidating our league position and certainly any thoughts of a play-off to secure European football will not enter any of our heads.
"It's been drilled into the players - we've got to remove the threat of relegation. We are not safe yet.
"We face Carrick Rangers this weekend and I have watched them a lot this season and felt they deserved more luck against the top sides.
"The teams in the bottom half of the table have a huge amount of quality and can never be uner-estimated."