Manager pushes us to the limits, admits Linfield ace Thompson
Peter Thompson has lifted the lid on the driving force that gives Linfield their insatiable hunger for success.
And the secret behind the success is the ever-increasing demands of manager David Jeffrey, who has yet to declare himself fully satisfied with what he has done in 15 trophy-filled years at Windsor Park.
The Blues stand on the brink of another Irish League title, their sixth in seven seasons, with even more history on the horizon.
A win at home to Portadown tomorrow would mean Linfield can only be caught on goal difference, but with a 22-goal advantage already three points would be enough to see the Gibson Cup remain in south Belfast.
Each of the last five league wins has been combined with Irish Cup success and a third successive double would match the achievements from 2006 to 2008 and way back in the 1890s, when the Blues’ first three league titles and Irish Cups were won in the same seasons.
Thompson’s goals have helped fire Linfield to glory over the last seven seasons and it’s the demands that Jeffrey places upon his players and his refusal to accept mediocrity that has brought such a glittering era to Windsor Park.
“Every year you think ‘how can we go and get better?’ and that’s what the manager wants us to do; keep improving,” said Thompson, whose six goals in March won him the Carling Player of the Month award.
“It’s not just a case of winning trophies, we want to do things better and hopefully we can improve.
“The manager has higher expectations for everyone in the squad and I think it’s right to set high expectations.
“It’s like anything in life. If you set people low standards maybe all they’ll want to do is meet that, they won’t push themselves to get above that.
“If you give them something higher to aim for they’ll have to strive to meet that.
“They may not get there and we may not play to a high level every week, but that’s what it’s about for us, aiming high and trying to get there rather than taking the middle ground and being happy with that.”
Everyone around the league has already conceded the title to Linfield. Even Ports manager Ronnie McFall has admitted that the best his team is going to do is finish second.
You won’t, however, see any of the staff at Windsor jumping for joy until the prize is confirmed as theirs.
“You don’t disrespect other teams by saying it’s over when it’s not and mathematically it isn’t at this stage,” said Thompson.
“We’ve obviously in a very strong position, there is no denying that. For us personally we’d like to have the league won as soon as possible, but we also understand that other teams won’t want that and they will be going out to try to stop us from winning it as soon as possible.
“We know the teams we are going to be playing against know that we are in the post-split period. They are all quality sides and we know that there will be no easy games.”