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Feeney fears Linfield will never be the dominant force of old

By Stuart McKinley

Published 05/12/2015

Northern Ireland's David Healy and Warren Feeney celebrates scoring against Iceland
Northern Ireland's David Healy and Warren Feeney celebrates scoring against Iceland

Warren Feeney has revealed that he recommended under-fire David Healy to the Linfield board when he quit as Windsor Park manager two months ago to become assistant boss at Newport.

And despite the Blues losing their last four league games, Feeney still believes that the club appointed the right man as his successor.

He does, however, have one big fear for his former international strike partner - that Linfield may never return to being the dominant force in Irish League football that they were just a few years ago.

During 18 months in charge, Feeney couldn't change a record that shows Linfield haven't won a major trophy in three seasons.

And he says that it's not down to any failings at Windsor Park. Instead, other clubs have caught up with the Blues and the top players now have options when it comes to chasing trophies.

"The fans have to realise that Linfield is just a name now to some people," said Feeney. "Other players realise they can win trophies by staying at their clubs.

"I tried to sign Daniel Hughes, Jordan Owens and Chris Curran but none of them had any interest in coming to Linfield.

"People think that Linfield just have to come calling and the player will jump, but they know they can get paid more and win trophies at other clubs.

"Years ago maybe that was the case and players would have run to Linfield. Not anymore."

Feeney knows exactly how Healy is feeling at the minute. The worst run he experienced was three successive defeats and questions about his managerial credentials were being asked, just as they are of Healy, who will lead his team into battle with Coleraine today.

"There is always pressure at Linfield. I remember around this time last year we lost three in a row, against Cliftonville and twice to Crusaders," said Feeney.

"People said we couldn't beat the big boys, but we'd been ahead in two of those games and then we went on a nine-match unbeaten run."

One of the criticisms levelled at Healy (pictured) is that having spent his entire playing career in England and Scotland, he doesn't know the Irish League.

Feeney suffered the same jibes and doesn't believe it is a factor.

"Football has been David's life every day for more than 20 years - he knows football and he knows players," said Feeney.

"Does Gary Neville know the Spanish league? Yet Valencia have given him a job.

"David knows football, he knows players, he will have done his homework and will continue to do it.

"When you come from Northern Ireland you take an interest in the Irish League, you know who the players are and to say that David doesn't know the league is an easy criticism to make.

"That comes from these keyboard warriors on social media who play Championship Manager on the computer and think it's real life.

"The fans need to support the team and support David.

"Support him and get behind the players."

Feeney knows Healy's character as well as anyone else, having spent all his international career alongside Northern Ireland's record goalscorer, and he is confident his old pal has the character to come through the tough start to his Linfield career.

"David isn't a soft touch - and I think that's the biggest compliment that I could pay him," said Feeney.

"He does keep himself to himself, he is a quiet lad, but he is also ruthless.

"Even when you play golf with him he hates to lose. That's the competitive edge that comes out in him and I have no doubt that he is the right man for the job.

"When I left I told the board that they needed someone with a full-time professional mentality and I mentioned David's name. David has that and that's why I believe he will turn it around."

Belfast Telegraph

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