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Portadown boss Ronnie McFall insists he's not set to follow Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson's lead by retiring

By Stuart McKinley

Ronnie McFall has always looked up to Sir Alex Ferguson.

There are many similarities between the two men as well.

McFall was appointed as Portadown manager in December 1986, a month after Ferguson joined Manchester United.

In April 1990 the Ports won the Irish League title for the first time and within a fortnight Sir Alex won his first trophy as Old Trafford boss when United won the FA Cup.

The Shamrock Park chief won't, however, be copying the former Manchester United manager by stepping down from his post when his contract expires at the end of the season.

"I won't be doing that. Definitely not," said McFall, ahead of Saturday's Danske Bank Premiership opener at home to Linfield.

"People talk and speculate about these things, but that's not part of my plans."

Instead McFall, who like Ferguson has led his club to unprecedented success in almost 27 years at the helm, wants even more silverware.

Last season was a major disappointment for the Ports. They failed to make the top six in the league and missed out on a place in the Irish Cup final when they lost to Glentoran in the last four.

The additions of Emmet Friars at the back and little-known Dublin-born winger Peter McMahon in midfield have added strength and creativity to the squad.

Keith O'Hara and Tim Mouncey have returned to fitness and youngster Matthew Padget is working his way back after a double bout of knee surgery.

Add to that the pre-season form of striker Gary Twigg.

Expectations were high when the Scotsman scored on his debut back in January, but he hasn't yet knocked in the goals with the same regularity he did at Shamrock Rovers.

Having come off a full season in the League of Ireland when he joined the Ports, he has benefited from the summer break and defences in the Premiership should beware.

"The players have worked hard in pre-season. It has been tough for them, but they have applied themselves and there's a passion and a freshness that wasn't there last year," said McFall.

"There were too many players who never fulfiled their potential last season and only a few played to their capabilities.

"I am looking for a response from them and I have seen a hunger in the players during pre-season that tells me they want to respond.

"It was hard for Gary Twigg last season coming in half way through and then he picked up an injury.

"He is a quality player and I am expecting him to score a lot of goals this season.

"After last season the top six should be the minimum requirement for us this time."

As far as his own expectations and targets are concerned McFall – as usual – is keeping things simple.

"Win the first match. I'm not looking any further than that at this stage," he said. Sympatsdklj High expectations: Gary Twigg needs to step up and deliver the goods for Portadown this season

Belfast Telegraph


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