Belfast Telegraph

Breslin: Gormley needs time to find his top form

By Graham Luney

Tommy Breslin has pleaded with Cliftonville fans not to expect Joe Gormley to reproduce the magic as soon as he pulls on a Reds jersey again.

Former Solitude supremo Breslin shared many golden moments with Gormley, including an incredible back-to-back title success in 2013 and 2014, and he's tipping the goal machine to slip back into the old routine - but it will take time.

The 27-year-old must rebuild his fitness after suffering a serious knee injury at Peterborough and there will also be a period of readjustment to the Irish League.

Breslin, who stepped down as Reds boss in September 2015, is disappointed Gormley's full-time career didn't take flight but he's confident the Belfast man will return to form once more.

"I've been in touch with Joe and I'm disappointed it didn't work out for him across the water but unlike a lot of players he was given a chance and it's important he stays positive and we can still see the best of him," said Breslin, who became Cliftonville's most successful manager.

"I just hope the supporters give him time to settle in and don't expect the fireworks to come straight away. It will take him a while to reproduce his old form but there is the danger of supporters expecting the magic immediately but he needs to readjust to life in the Irish League again.

"Fans will want to see the Joe Gormley of three years ago but they should be patient with him.

"He's probably been coached in a different way and the injury has curtailed his progress. My advice to him is to simply go out and enjoy your football again.

"And I don't see why there should be big concern regarding his fitness. Yes he had a serious injury but he would have got the best treatment at a full-time club.

"The best medical people will have been looking after him and he will be assessed at Cliftonville where he will be training for the rest of the season."

Crusaders showed strong interest in Gormley and Cliftonville feared their neighbours would pinch their former diamond but Breslin is not surprised by the former Crumlin Star striker's decision.

"Joe is one of life's good guys and I felt the only move he really could have made was going back to the Reds," said Breslin, who isn't missing life as a Premiership manager but has not completely ruled out a return.

"He's a local lad and that's where his heart is and I'm sure he has made the right decision. I'm not being disrespectful to Crusaders when I say that he would probably give that bit extra for the Reds. A footballer will produce his best when they are happy, I've always believed that. You can have money in the bank but that's no guarantee you're happy.

"Joe just wanted to play football, at times I'm sure he wasn't happy to be taken off but that's because he loved playing. I'm sure he's still got that appetite and I hope he shows that. He's had a taste of the full-time game which is more than most players here can say and I'm sure he'll get over any negative experiences."

Some doom merchants might throw in the phrase 'never go back', believing Gormley will not be able to reproduce his killer touch, but Breslin doesn't accept that point of view.

"The easiest way to refer to Joe is as a goal machine," added Breslin, who guided the club to eight trophies. "I know people say never go back but Barry Johnston came back to the Reds and was successful and we have seen it happen in England and elsewhere.

"I've been following Cliftonville's matches and they have been creating plenty of chances, but with Joe in the team you can turn defeats into draws and draws into wins.

"My most memorable moment with Joe was when he came on as a substitute and scored the second goal in the 2-1 win over Glentoran to win the County Antrim Shield at The Oval.

"Joe was always a humble guy but that was really the moment that established him as a big player for us and it became very difficult for us to leave him out of the team."

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph