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New boss Gerrard Lyttle is relishing Cliftonville's glory challenge

By Graham Luney

Gerard Lyttle will be beaming with pride tomorrow when he leads out his Cliftonville side as manager for the first time.

The Danske Bank Premiership match against Portadown at Solitude now takes on huge significance for Lyttle as it's the fourth chapter in his own personal fairytale... from Reds supporter to player to coach and now manager.

Cliftonville have won five of their six games during Lyttle's time at the helm following Tommy Breslin's surprise departure and the 37-year-old can now let go of feelings of nervous anticipation and celebrate becoming 'the chosen one'.

"My time has come and it's an extremely proud moment for me," said Lyttle. "People know I supported the club, was able to play here and now to be able to manage this club is a huge honour.

"We have a great bunch of lads and there is now an expectation that we win trophies. It's an exciting challenge and we want to continue playing good football. The atmosphere in training and in the dressing room is fantastic and results have been positive.

"The boys are fully committed in training and physically we are very strong."

Mal Donaghy will remain as assistant manager, with former Donegal Celtic and Carrick Rangers boss Stephen Small in a role as a scout and opposition analyst.

Ricky McCann has been appointed Head of Sports Science while Rodney Dalzell is goalkeeping coach. "Any manager who hopes to be successful needs to have excellent people as part of his team and I've got that," added the former Parkhead youth recruit who was signed by Lou Macari in 1994 but was unable to register a first-team appearance at Celtic.

"In the last 10 years we have been building to a point where we have been winning the big prizes and the challenge is to stay on that road."

He joked: "It was probably 50 per cent my fault when Tommy was in charge but now it will be at least 90 per cent my fault so the heat will be on me!"

Cliftonville chairman Gerard Lawlor said: "Gerard has been excellent over these last few weeks and ticks every box of what we're looking for as a manager.

"He is a very proud Reds fan but, more importantly, a talented and self-motivated coach in whom everyone at the club has full faith.

"He has demonstrated strong dedication to his commitments at Cliftonville over these last few years and we wish him every success in his role."

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