Eddie Patterson: I'm hurt as I could have turned tide at Glentoran
Eddie Patterson says he leaves Glentoran with his "head held high" but he's also still hurting because of the timing of his sacking and the belief that he could have revived the club's fortunes.
Patterson was sacked as Glens boss after his side's 2-0 league win at home to Carrick Rangers, bringing an end to a reign which included two Irish Cup triumphs in three years.
The east-Belfast club clearly felt that the former Cliftonville boss was not the man to take the club to the next level - challenging for the league title and sealing European qualification on a regular basis.
They have asked Glentoran legends Gary Smyth and Paul Leeman to put the club back on the path to the top of Irish League football and the former Oval favourites are considering a return to the club where they won every domestic medal going.
Smyth has performed heroics as boss of Championship One pacesetters H&W Welders while Leeman is ready to focus on coaching after ending a distinguished playing career.
Neither Smyth nor Leeman hold a Uefa Pro Licence coaching qualification, but the club could bring in another coach to the fold who will look after team affairs while those requirements are met.
Patterson was appointed Glens boss in February 2012, but life in the Oval office has been far from smooth.
He's had to deal with missed wage payments, players refusing to train on two occasions, reduced budgets, frustration in the transfer market with rivals clubs offering lucrative deals, injury and suspension headaches and the loss of the club's best player, Jordan Stewart.
Glentoran Director of Football Roy Coyle once said of Patterson: "People say that he has been working with his hands tied behind his back, but you could argue that he has had his legs shackled, eyes blindfolded and thrown into the Atlantic and told to swim."
But success is still expected and demanded at a Big Two club and Glens fans have not been impressed with performances this campaign.
Patterson feels he has unfinished business and emotions are still raw.
"I know that's football, but I'm still hurting a bit," he said. "I think this has been a planned thing over a few weeks. The timing of it is strange and I didn't expect it, but the club has made a decision.
"We won two Irish Cups in three years and the players were rewarded for giving their all, but in this game you will struggle if you cannot put the personnel on the pitch you want to. I wish the players all the best and they certainly did not let me down.
"The period of the missed wage payments was a difficult time, but what pleased me was the determination of the players and staff to roll our sleeves up and they were a credit to themselves and the shirt. Despite everything that was happening they cut through that and tasted success."
"I'm walking out with my head held high after winning those two major trophies in difficult circumstances."
Patterson accepts it's a result business and four wins in 12 league matches, leaving the side in seventh spot, is unacceptable, but he was confident the tide was beginning to turn. He added: "I thought the last few results were better and gave us something to build on. We struck late at Linfield to earn a draw, progressed to the quarter-finals of the League Cup and took three points against Carrick Rangers on Saturday.
"Granted, the performances could have been better, but I was confident we would have improved with more players available to select from including Ciaran Caldwell being free from suspension. Ciaran is a player who would have given us some of the creativity we missed when Jordan Stewart left.
"We've suffered significant injuries and I haven't been able to use the same back four two games running. It was the same on Saturday when Jay Magee was missing.
"I thought we were more like ourselves against Linfield and when we have everyone fit and available we will have a quality side, I think the club's board know that.
"I understand it's a results business, but I was confident the results would come."
Patterson has questioned the attitude of the players a few times this season, but he's not prepared to slam them now.
"The Glentoran players are great lads, but when your squad is lacking some experience you are limited in terms of what you can plan in training and with inexperience comes some inconsistency but I believed the players would improve over the course of the season with about 25 games remaining," he says.
"We are only through one round of games in the Premiership and there is plenty of quality in that dressing room and if the team selection is as it should be performances will improve."
Patterson, who was awarded a two-year contract after the Irish Cup win against Portadown in May, is unhappy with the pay-off offered by Glens chiefs and he's keen to get that matter resolved.
"There are things in the pipeline about that and it's up to the club to come to me and talk to me about a settlement that is reasonable. That hasn't materialised yet," he added.
"I've also advised the coaches (Seamus and Tiernan Lynch) to continue in their work and it's a wait and see as to whether a new manager will want to retain them or bring his own staff in."
As for Patterson's immediate future he remarked: "I can do nothing about this decision and must move on. As a lot of managers will tell you football is in my blood and I went to matches every weekend, but I've a big dilemma as I don't want to create the impression that I'm looking for someone else's job.
"That's not my intention."
Highs and lows of Eddie Patterson's stint at the Oval
February, 2012: Eddie Patterson is appointed manager of Glentoran on a two-and-a-half year contract. Paul Trainor and brothers Seamus and Tiernan Lynch, who worked with him at Cliftonville, formed the backroom team. Glentoran were sixth in the Premiership table and were knocked out of the Irish Cup by Newington YC at the fifth-round stage, a defeat which prompted the resignation of Scott Young. The Glens finished in sixth place and missed out on Europe.
2012-2013 season: Glens finished fourth in the league and Patterson guided the club to their first Irish Cup win since 2004 after Cliftonville were put to the sword 3-1 in the final. It was a fairytale triumph as the club had been dogged by financial problems and, earlier in the season, players refused to train because they had not received their wages. The club also qualified for the Europa League, but the exits of experienced players such as Sean Ward, Andy Waterworth, Jimmy Callacher, Stephen Carson and Richard Clarke curtailed progress. David Howland was also destined to suffer an injury nightmare.
2013-2014 season: The Glens finished fifth and missed out on Europe.
2014-2015 season: Glens finished sixth but returned to the Europa League following a 1-0 Irish Cup Final win over Portadown at The Oval.
May, 2015: Patterson agrees a two-year deal at The Oval.
August 2015: Jordan Stewart leaves Glentoran for Swindon Town.
September, 2015: Glens lose out to H&W Welders in the County Antrim Shield after a penalty shoot-out.
October, 2015: Glentoran say Patterson has been ‘relieved of his responsibilities.’ Patterson says he wants a better severance deal from the club.