Belfast Telegraph

David fronts up but now his players need to show their courage

By Graham Luney

If I was wearing a Santa hat at yesterday's post-match press conference at Windsor Park I would have taken it off for David Healy.

The Linfield manager, unlike his players, fronted up and accepted responsibility on a day which always had the potential of being a defining moment of the season.

While Crusaders were making a statement of intent by giving Cliftonville a festive stuffing at Solitude, the Linfield players - once again - failed to deliver on the big occasion.

Healy could have simply blasted his players and left it at that but he was honest enough to admit: "I'm not getting it right."

What he means is that he picks the players, he trusts them to do a job and they have let him down.

They let him down in last season's County Antrim Shield final and Irish Cup decider. And they have also let him down in crunch league games.

To give Crusaders the respect they deserve, Stephen Baxter's men are a ruthless machine and at fortress Seaview they are invincible warriors.

But Linfield should be putting up more of a fight and their second half display against Glentoran yesterday was simply unacceptable.

There can be no excuses either. The Blues created plenty of chances in the opening 45 minutes, but in the second half they hardly laid a glove on the Glens.

Healy has prepared the team as best he can but he needs a group of players prepared to dig in and battle, as well as players who can make magic happen.

The Glens brought hunger and desire to the table - eventually - but that's the minimum you should expect in these Big Two clashes.

Healy couldn't resist a dig afterwards, saying: "It's nice to see Glentoran get up for at least one game every season."

What the Blues must do now is give it everything against Crusaders at Seaview on Saturday and reduce the gap to four points. A failure to win on the Shore Road and it could be another painful new year.

There is the County Antrim Shield final against the Crues on the horizon when Healy may lift a trophy for the first time as a manager, but the bigger picture is that Linfield need to be winning titles and Irish Cups.

Interestingly, Healy also spoke after the game about the difficulty he faces in bringing players to Linfield. Some players, he argues, struggle to deal with the training demands and expectation levels.

It seems that on and off the pitch Linfield face huge challenges and it's not only the players who need to prove themselves.

Healy knows he has to prove himself as a manager.

He needs all the help he can get, particularly from the players who are letting him down.

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