Fans get their wish as McDonald quits Glentoran
Dungannon Swifts 2 Glentoran 0
And so the inevitable has arrived, the moment that Glentoran fans have been waiting for since November 7 when they watched their side subjected to a 6-0 mauling by Coleraine on their own turf.
Alan McDonald will not manage Glentoran again.
Some, perhaps most, supporters felt that he should have gone after that embarrassing defeat, and a few waited behind to vent their spleen in the car park as McDonald left the ground that evening.
Others were prepared to give him a second chance, hoping that the Northern Ireland legend would use that famous fighting spirit shown so many times in the green of his country to great effect and push the Glens towards retention of the league title they won last May.
Last Saturday there were very few putting their heads above the parapet to profess their loyalty to the manager.
But it was support from closer to home, or maybe lack of, that ultimately led to McDonald’s imment demise.
The fans have never really taken to him and even in winning the league last season many complained about the style in which it was won, that the football displayed lacked flair and excitement.
They were right in a way, the football at times was dreadful, but call me old fashioned, but I’d take all the league titles on offer in favour of an entertaining yet ultimately unsuccessful team.
It also didn’t help that McDonald mulled over the signing of a new contract and was in the running for a prestigious coaching role within the IFA.
However, at the beginning of the campaign, having not got that job, he was given the benefit of the doubt and won the backing of the slight majority.
That was until results didn’t go their way.
The Coleraine debacle was the final straw for most and when McDonald decided to ride out the storm, they waited patiently for him to fall on his sword.
Their eighth league defeat of the season on Saturday, this time to Dungannon Swifts, appears to be that moment they craved.
It shouldn’t have come to this and the manager is by no means bereft of responsibility for what is turning out to be an awful season for the Glens despite the fact that a major investment was placed in the playing squad.
At times his team selection has been questionable, likewise substitutions.
But the crux of the matter is that among that squad that has been expensively assembled, no matter which players were put in the team, Glentoran should be beating most, if not all teams in the league.
That they are situated where they are in the Carling Premiership is as much down to the players themselves as it is the manager.
The squad is the envy of the league, littered with big names in the local game but as a team they have consisently underperformed and McDonald is now paying the price for that.
Every single player has gone through a consistent period of mediocrity this season, and for a lot of last year too, and who is at fault for that?
McDonald has to shoulder a lot of the blame if he is unable to make a team out of this individually experienced and hugely talented squad.
But the players themselves will, today, have to ask themselves a question: did they perform to their best?
If any of them answer ‘yes’, then they are deluding themselves and disrespecting their fans.
Excuses can be made. Saturday’s awarding of a penalty in controversial circumstances, dispatched by Niall McCafferty, won’t have helped, neither will the ‘goal’ that was disallowed on Tuesday night in the defeat to Portadown at Shamrock Park.
But missed chances from misfiring strikers and stupid goals conceded by defenders who should know better, by far outweigh any luck that has failed to shine on the champions.
At Stangmore Park, Johnny Taylor was red carded after he brought down Shane Coney, this after Gary Hamilton had inexplicably given the ball away.
That penalty wasn’t converted, Elliott Morris saving from McCafferty but Swifts would get another near the end when Sean Ward was adjudged to have handled, though referee Trevor Moutray seemed the only man in the ground to have seen that.
Then for Dermot McCaffrey’s goal, the Glens defended like a team who had never played football before.
It summed up a lot of their season and meant that winning the title, barring a miracle, was now beyond them.
Sadly the buck stops with McDonald and now he’s heading off, possibly with some relief that he is leaving the pressure of managing Glentoran behind him.
He would have loved to have proved his detractors wrong, but few have helped him to do that.