We will show Linfield no mercy, insists Ballymena United boss David Jeffrey
David Jeffrey may have special memories from his near 30-year career at Linfield as a proud player, captain and manager, but now the same passion and commitment he displayed as a Blueman will be used to shoot down his old club tonight.
The legendary Linfield boss will come up against his old employers as a manager for the first time when Ballymena United hope to dump the Blues out of the Northern Ireland League Cup at the Showgrounds.
It will be an emotional night for Jeffrey and his assistant Brian McLoughlin who together tasted incredible success at Windsor Park, with six doubles in seven seasons a glorious chapter in the club's history.
The 53-year-old, who managed the Blues from 1997 to 2014, can reflect on a remarkable managerial haul of 31 trophies and since his departure at the end of the 2013-2014 season Linfield have failed to win any silverware.
In March this year Jeffrey came out of retirement and agreed a three-year deal with the Sky Blues, promising the club his "110 per cent commitment".
United were ninth in the Premiership table when Jeffrey stepped into the seat vacated by another Blues legend, Glenn Ferguson, but the progress since then has been impressive with the Braidmen sitting third in the table. The man who began his playing career at Manchester United is looking forward to a special reunion tonight, but his primary focus is a Ballymena United triumph.
"I can understand the focus being on me for a match like this one but anyone who knows me will know how I approach the challenge," said Jeffrey.
"After serving Linfield for 10 years as a proud player and captain I can remember vividly playing against them as captain of Ards and, of course, I showed the same passion, commitment and desire as I always have done in my career.
"When you add in my management years it was around 30 years of my life spent at Linfield and that's an extraordinarily long time. I look back very fondly, as does my assistant Brian McLoughlin, on that period of our lives when we enjoyed incredible success. The six doubles in seven seasons was a phenomenal achievement and it really was a period of unprecedent success.
"After leaving Linfield I never thought I would definitely return to management, I had no plans and the Ballymena United approach came out of the blue. It was obvious that if I was going to accept the challenge I would have to give them my 100 per cent commitment.
"People know my history with Linfield as a supporter, player and manager, but the reality now is that I'm Ballymena United manager and that is my total focus. I'm committed to bringing success to the club and I want us to perfom at our best against every opponent, not just Linfield.
"I showed no quarter against Linfield when I was a player and it will be the same as manager of Ballymena United. My motive is to serve United to the best of my ability, not to get one over on another team."
The Sky Blues are reaping the benefits of Jeffrey's work ethic and hunger for success, while the players are feeding off his incredible passion for the game.
"I've said to the players there are teams that have finished above Ballymena United in the past and let's see if we can raise our level to be competitive against them," added Jeffrey, who was named Manager of the Month for September.
"The challenge has been there for us to improve and the players have responded. We have worked tremendously hard and that has been the basis for everything."
NI League Cup Round Three:
Ballymena Showgrounds, Tonight, 7.45pm