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Tommy Breslin had support of the players, says Jaimie McGovern

Players 'shocked' over departure of legendary boss

By Graham Luney

Published 18/09/2015

Comrades: Jaimie McGovern says the players were fully behind Tommy Breslin who quit as manager this week
Comrades: Jaimie McGovern says the players were fully behind Tommy Breslin who quit as manager this week

Jaimie McGovern says talk that Tommy Breslin lost the dressing room at Cliftonville is wide of the mark.

The Reds defender and his colleagues are stunned by recent developments as Breslin resigned as Cliftonville boss, bringing an end to a glorious chapter at Solitude which included back to back title glory.

Breslin told his squad after the 6-1 loss at Ballymena United on Saturday that he was ready to walk away, but McGovern insists the players were behind the gaffer and desperately wanted him to fight on.

"Tommy expressed a desire to leave after the United game, but this group of players told him we weren't prepared to throw the towel in so we didn't want him to," said McGovern who was signed by Breslin when he left Glentoran for the north Belfast side in May, 2012.

"The boys did try to talk him into changing his mind, but it's his decision and one we must all respect even if it comes as a huge shock to us.

"This was one bad result and we feared Tommy might make a kneejerk reaction, but I don't believe it's a football decision and with his work commitments I think he decided it was in the club's interests that someone else should take on the role.

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"Tommy told the boys before training on Tuesday with only our captain George McMullan knowing his thoughts. There was a lot of emotion and it was difficult to go ahead with the training session following the news.

"I'm left with so many memories and medals. I'm so grateful Tommy brought me to the club and I'll never forget when I won Newcomer of the Year after my first season he told me no-one else was going to get that award, it meant so much to me and tells you what a wonderful man he was."

Breslin himself insists the 6-1 mauling dished out by the Sky Blues was not the spark that lit the fire. "After everything we have achieved at Cliftonville and over such a long period of time, one result was not going to shape my future," he said.

Cliftonville face Glentoran at Solitude tomorrow and there is an understandable determination to move on and achieve more success under interim boss Gerard Lyttle and his assistant Mal Donaghy.

But for the players who have worked with Breslin for most of their careers it's sure to be an emotional occasion.

McGovern added: "Bressy has been a huge influence on all of us, particularly guys like George McMullan whose career has been guided by him. Tommy became a legend at Cliftonville and he made the players legends too.

"I sincerely hope he returns to the game and he told us that while it's the end of Tommy Breslin the Cliftonville manager it's not the end of his association with the club because he's a supporter and it will always have a special meaning to him.

"The memories are also special. Getting our first ever European win against Swedish side Kalmar, the George McMullan moment when he struck home the penalty against Linfield to seal the title victory and playing in front of 45,000 people at Parkhead. It's the stuff of dreams."

While coming to terms with Breslin's surprise departure, the Reds still have every trophy to aim for this season and they must regroup under Lyttle.

"'Skin' has been a big influence on the team and one of the driving forces behind the success we have enjoyed under Tommy," added McGovern.

"He's been taking the coaching sessions and he will be in the running for the job. He has a great relationship with the players and we are all united in our goal to win more silverware. It's a new role for Gerard and he'll adapt to that but he also knows the talent that exists in the dressing room and we will all try to take the club forward."

Belfast Telegraph

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