Belfast Telegraph

Linfield will improve as I continue to learn: Warren Feeney

By Stuart McKinley

Warren Feeney believes that his table-topping Linfield team can get even better — because he is improving as a manager.

The Blues have started the Danske Bank Premiership campaign on fire, with four wins on the bounce and 15 goals scored and only two conceded along the way.

That is in contrast to last season when they picked up only seven points from the first four games, but Feeney hasn’t changed anything — apart from himself.

With 12 months experience under his belt the 34-year-old is no longer a rookie and he is feeling the benefit of having a season behind him as he chases his first silverware at Windsor Park.

“I look at players going across the water — and Jordan Stewart going to Swindon Town is a good example,” said Feeney.

“It is a great opportunity for him, but the club have only given him a two-year contract because they won’t commit to longer than that.

“It is difficult to go across, things are so much different when you are going into the full-time game and you have to adjust.

“It’s the same with me coming the other way. I have had to make the change from being involved full-time to part-time and those adjustments take time.

“I know the league, but I’m still learning and I think that I am a bit better and a bit sharper after a year.”

Linfield’s unblemished record will be put to the test tomorrow when they go up against a Portadown team who beat them twice last season in the Premiership. The Blues also suffered an Irish Cup quarter-final defeat at Shamrock Park.

There is a feel-good factor at Windsor Park at the minute though and with an air of confidence about the place it is never an easy venue for visiting teams to pick up points.

“We’ve got momentum that has built up from Europe, when we played very well,” said Feeney.

“I look at the pre-season friendly we had against Loughgall too.

“We didn’t play like it was a friendly that day. We took a great attitude into that game and it’s kept going and going and going since then.

“I can see a different mood in the squad this season and a togetherness in the squad. It’s not that it wasn’t there before, but it’s important to know that everyone is together — and it’s difficult when some aren’t playing.

“We don’t have any bad eggs in the changing room and the boys who aren’t playing know that we’re only a few weeks into the season and their opportunity will come if they stay patient.”

Feeney knows that winning runs do eventually come to an end and he is also aware of the impact even one single defeat could have on the early-season running.

“We want to keep the run going as long as possible — for 38 games would be nice, but I know that’s not going to happen,” he said.

“There are a lot of good teams in the league and although we have a 100 per cent record so far we haven’t been able to build a lead and one defeat could drop us to third place.

“That’s how tight and how tough it is. A defeat will inevitably come and it’s just about how we react to that.”

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