Belfast Telegraph

Linfield's Andy Waterworth: We must get back on our feet

By Graham Luney

Linfield captain Andy Waterworth's rallying cry to his team-mates is "it's time to stand up and be counted".

There's no more title talk in the Blues dressing room - their number one priority is digging themselves out of a mess.

Three league defeats on the spin for any club is disappointing. For Linfield, it's disastrous.

You have to go back 13 years to find the last time that happened and four defeats in a row is unthinkable.

It's easy to reach for the word 'crisis' in these testing moments but that would be an exaggerated response.

It's undeniable, though, that a few alarm bells are ringing at Windsor Park ahead of tomorrow's trip to face Portadown at Shamrock Park.

David Healy's Linfield reign has hit some early turbulence and no doubt there are plenty of strong words being uttered in the dressing room but the bottom line is the club need to find a way to end this losing run.

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If there's light at the end of the Blues tunnel, they can look forward to Tuesday's trip to Carrick Rangers in the semi-finals of the County Antrim Shield and there's always the chance that other title chasing sides can hit rough periods.

Waterworth says the players have no alternative but to accept all the criticism, from wherever it comes, and prove they deserve to don the famous blue jersey.

"As players we feel we have let people down and when you are in a rut it can be hard to get out of it but we simply have to stand up and be counted," said the former Glentoran striker.

"There is pressure to perform at Linfield and you have to deal with it.

"There's no other way around this problem other than to roll our sleeves up, work hard and start playing the way we know we can.

"There's still a lot of good footballers at this club and while I admit we haven't been good enough in matches, I also feel we could do with getting the rub of the green more.

"Stick will come our way but we have to keep going.

"For the last two years we have been challenging around the top of the table and finding it difficult to stay there whereas this time we are having to claw back a deficit but no-one is thinking about titles now.

"We have to dig ourselves out of this hole we are in and break this cycle of poor results.

"That's the only thing that matters at the moment."

Waterworth says he feels the pain of his boss Healy, a man whose first managerial experience has become a baptism of fire.

"David has just taken on the job and we can all see he is working very hard but he also can't step across the white line and perform for us," added Waterworth.

"The manager gets criticism but we are under-performing as a team and know we need to do more.

"I'm confident Linfield will regain their place at the top of the domestic game but right now we have to do the ugly side of the game much better."

If Linfield have found the going tough this season, Portadown and their manager Ronnie McFall have also been putting a few pennies in the swear box after a frustrating campaign which sees them lying in seventh spot - a massive 21 points behind leaders Crusaders.

"Ronnie is a brilliant manager and I've a lot of respect for him and Portadown who are, despite their league form this season, a fantastic side," added Waterworth.

"In some ways I know how they are feeling this season but they are still one of the best teams in the league in my eyes and they are just like ourselves - going through a rough time - but it won't last."

Belfast Telegraph


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