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Don't judge Healy yet, it isn't his team: Coyle

By Graham Luney

Roy Coyle says he feels David Healy's pain as the Northern Ireland legend tries to weather a fierce Linfield storm early in his managerial career.

The Blues crashed to a fourth straight defeat at the weekend and the 2-0 loss at Portadown piles further pressure on Healy ahead of tonight's County Antrim Shield battle with Carrick Rangers at the Belfast Loughshore Hotel Arena (7.45pm).

Saturday's defeat was the first time Linfield had lost four league games in a row since March 1997 and they are now 12 points behind defending champions Crusaders.

The heat is firmly on Healy but former Linfield and Glentoran supremo Coyle said: "Myself and David Jeffrey both won 31 trophies as Linfield managers, but we both could have been sacked in the early years and we never would have had the chance to achieve the success we did.

"I think I lost my first three matches and I also lost two Irish Cup finals to Carrick Rangers and Coleraine and they were testing times, but the board saw something they liked and gave me support when I needed it.

"David (Jeffrey) will say the same and what he experienced in his early years stood him in good stead going forward. In that sense we will feel David's pain.

"David is only in the job a few weeks and needs time to build his own team.

"People forget that this isn't David's team."

"It's Warren's (Feeney) side and David has to assess what he has and then strengthen.

"No side has a divine right to win trophies and Linfield's problems will not be solved overnight," added Coyle who was manager of the Blues from November 1975 to April 1990.

Only the passage of time will tell us how Healy fares as a manager, but history has taught Linfield that when you keep the faith the rewards could be handsome.

When Coyle was in the Windsor Park hotseat he went on to win an incredible 10 league titles, three Irish Cups, seven Gold Cups, four Ulster Cups, five County Antrim Shields, one League Cup and one All-Ireland Cup. David Jeffrey played in many of those triumphs.

Jeffrey became boss in January, 1997 and lasted more than 17 years in the most demanding job in domestic football, winning an amazing nine league titles, seven Irish Cups, six League Cups, six County Antrim Shields, one Setanta Cup, one IFA Charity Shield and one Floodlit Cup.

But it has never been forgotten, particularly by the two big beasts of Irish League management, that they were close to being sacked early in their reign.

"After what I have been through in the game I feel for all managers," added Coyle who went on to win 16 trophies with the Glens after his Linfield adventure.

"I've always held the view that the minute a manager gets a job the clock starts ticking until he is sacked. Some jobs have more pressure than others and at Linfield you aren't just expected to win things, it is demanded of you.

"David has a wealth of experience as a player and he played under many managers so he just needs time to familiarise himself with the Irish League and Linfield.

"He will be hoping to strengthen in January, but that's not easy as clubs will not release their best players.

"Whatever is being said behind the scenes David has to earn the respect of the players in terms of how he manages people and manages the team.

"That doesn't happen overnight. Give the man time to prove himself."

Belfast Telegraph


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