It was the day too many Glentoran fans have waited for
Published 09/11/2009 | 02:49
Humiliating, embarrassing, disgraceful, shocking - just some of the words, minus the expletives, that Glentoran fans used to describe their side’s 6-0 hammering by Coleraine at the Oval on Saturday.
They had every right to be upset, angry even.
Having just watched the champions — let’s not forget that — get turned over in a way that few in the ground had ever seen, supporters were more than entitled to voice their frustrations.
The last time the east Belfast men suffered anywhere near a battering such as this in the league was in November 1994, when a Neil Candlish-inspired Portadown romped to a sensational 6-1 success.
The difference that day was, that particular Glens team was one very much in transition.
Legendary players like Barney Bowers — who actually went into goal for a brief period on that manic day — were coming to the end of their careers, and some of those brought in just weren’t good enough to wear the shirt.
In comparison, the current squad is supposed to be the finished article — on paper the stongest in the league, by a stretch.
Yet on Saturday they played like a pub team. Coleraine ripped them apart with ease, but anyone who has watched Glentoran this season will tell you that it was just a matter of time before this happened. Ballymena United could have done it, Cliftonville too, and Linfield most certainly.
But in a couple of those games a 10 or 15-minute period of attacking brought about late, late winners or in the case of the Big Two clash, at the very least some semblence of reclaimed pride.
Error-strewn performances have become the norm, yet somehow the Glens hung in there — their obvious class coming to the fore for even a brief period, enough to take something from games where they looked down and out.
But the fact that that undoubted ability rears its head only in short bursts meant that at some point they would be caught out.
And that’s what happened on Saturday.
Now we have a case where the manager, who led Glentoran to league title glory just seven months ago, breaking Linfield’s stranglehold on the Gibson Cup, could find his position untenable.
Chairman Aubry Ralph has stated that Alan McDonald won’t be sacked, but while the man who made his name as a no-nonsense centre-back for Northern Ireland and QPR is no quitter, he may not have much choice.
A large number of supporters congregated at the players’ entrance after the game in protest, with all their rage centering squarely on the manager.
It brought back memories of the night fans stormed the boardroom at the Oval calling for Tommy Cassidy’s head after a drubbing by Omagh Town. Soon after, Cassidy was out the door.
When Glenmen turn on you, there’s no way back. And for that reason, Glentoran’s players should be ashamed of themselves
Yes, McDonald has accepted responsibility for Saturday’s defeat but he shouldn’t have to take it all.
Each and every man in a Glens shirt was shocking, the back four particularly, though in fairness the midfield offered them little protection and the forward line didn’t look like scoring if they had played until next week.
Yet it was McDonald who is bearing the brunt of the criticism.
If Glenmen are honest a lot of them never really took to him.
They have complained about the quality of football, even after winning the league. They also took exception to contract wranglings over the summer and then his application for a coaching role at the IFA during that period.
In truth, it seems some had been praying for a moment like this, just so they could have an excuse to force him out.
Perhaps they had a point, but on the other hand, had the players who were sent onto the pitch done their jobs then the anti-McDonald faction would have little to complain about.
And so the boss is, right now, mulling over his future.
Unfortunately, the people have spoken.