Title is only the start for Linfield: Burns
Billy Joe Burns has warned the rest of the Carling Premiership that there are “more titles in this Linfield team” and he hailed David Jeffrey as “the best manager in Ireland.”
During a bleak winter period, the Blues were under intense pressure and Jeffrey’s position was under threat.
Though the manager will feel he has nothing to prove to anyone, a seventh league championship will give him plenty of satisfaction, particularly as some supporters vented their fury at Jeffrey and his players when the going got tough.
As the season unfolded, it was Alan McDonald who left the hot-seat across the city at Glentoran while Jeffrey got his hands on the glittering prize.
The 1-0 win over Cliftonville on Tuesday was a double celebration for Burns as he turned 21 the following day.
However, the birthday cake may have had a bitter after-taste.
Burns knew the heat was on earlier in the campaign, but he refused to let his young shoulders collapse under the weight of expectation.
And now that the title has been sealed, he is already focusing on grasping more medals.
“There are definitely more titles in us — a lot of us are only 21 and 22-years-of-age and we are hoping to build on this success for the next few seasons,” said Burns.
“Hopefully we can bring more trophies to Linfield and the players will be determined to do that.
“The manager knew his job was on the line around Christmas time and the players had to dig in for him as well.
“But he’s the best manager in Ireland and we knew if we listened to what he had to say, we would end up champions and that has happened.”
With the job completed, it was celebration time in the Burns’ household and he describes Gibson Cup success as “the best feeling in the world.”
He added: “This is what you work towards all year so it is a huge relief when you finally achieve what you set out to
achieve. This is the first title for me and I’m just one of ten players in the squad to win the league for the first time and I’m sure all the boys are delighted as well.
“You expect the pressure to win trophies at Linfield because we are the biggest club in Ireland.
“The fans demand that you win the league every year and if you don’t you are labelled as failures.
“Hard work has seen us turn things around — everyone of the 25 squad members have stuck together and we have come out with the trophy at the end.
“This is the best feeling in the world, to win the title for the first time.”
Linfield wrestle with Portadown at Shamrock Park tomorrow but the game is effectively a phoney war ahead of the JJB Sports Irish Cup final next Saturday between the sides.