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Haveron's arrival at Glens adds fuel to fiery Big Two battle, says Healy

By David Mason

Published 01/10/2016

Calling the shots: Linfield boss David Healy wants the leaders in the dressing room to stand tall
Calling the shots: Linfield boss David Healy wants the leaders in the dressing room to stand tall

David Healy believes the announcement of a new Glentoran manager just before today's Big Two clash at The Oval will add a little extra spice to the occasion.

The former Northern Ireland striker will aim to preserve his team's unbeaten Danske Bank Premiership run when Linfield make the short journey across town.

Healy's boys sit snugly on the tails of title holders Crusaders, five points behind, having played one fewer game.

In contrast, the ailing Glens, who have appointed ex-Carrick Rangers chief Gary Haveron as their new manager, haven't won since August 20 - and have slumped alarmingly into relegation territory. Perhaps the game comes at just the right time for the rampant Blues, but Healy is keen to keep a lid on any pre-match perceptions.

"You know what they say about derby matches, whether they be in England, Scotland or Northern Ireland, form usually goes out of the window," he said.

"It's a Big Two game and we will relish the challenge. Yes, Glentoran have struggled of late, but they have a new man at the helm. That can have an inspirational effect on players. On the other hand, he's only really through the door and may not have enough time to put his own stamp on things.

"At the end of the day, I am only concerned about what happens in our dressing room. If we go there with a right attitude, I'm confident we can win the game."

Healy admits it's the start of a hectic month for his boys. He needs no reminding of last season when the Blues fell to a series of defeats in November - a sequence of results that torpedoed their title hopes.

"We have a big four weeks looming, starting at The Oval," said Healy. "Then we have the Irn-Bru Cup against Queen of the South in Scotland ahead of matches against Ballinamallard, Cliftonville, Coleraine and Crusaders, plus a League Cup tie at Ballymena United.

"That's when we'll need our leaders in the dressing room. Linfield fans remind us about the great leaders down the years - the more leaders you have in the dressing room the better.

"We have leaders on the pitch, Roy Carroll, Jamie Mulgrew and Jimmy Callacher. If they are barking out orders, it saves me from doing it.

"I want the players to improve week on week. I want them to have a ruthless streak. I have seen improvements since I've taken over - we have a wee bit more hunger to go and win a game. But it's important to build on that and not sit back and admire your work. The players know I'm not one to hand out compliments on a regular basis. They'll get the compliments and arm around them when they win something.

"Our immediate focus is on our job at The Oval. I was happy with the performance against Ards last week. We were clinical in the first half. My only criticism was we should have scored more.

"The secret is producing that sort of display on a consistent basis."

The unbeaten Crues also face a big derby fixture as they host north Belfast neighbours Cliftonville at Seaview. Crusaders have won five league matches in a row while the Reds are up to fourth following back-to-back victories.

Defender Craig McClean, who netted his first Crues goal last weekend, said: "There is a real ruthlessness about us. As long as we are creating the chances, we have got the guys who can stick it in the net."

Belfast Telegraph

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