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Under-fire Fay shrugs off axe threat

By Adrian Rutherford

Dungannon Swifts manager Harry Fay insists he does not fear the sack ahead of tonight's crucial showdown with Donegal Celtic.

Struggling Swifts have dropped to ninth in the league table after failing to win their last four games and are just five points ahead of second-bottom Celtic, whom they face at Stangmore Park this evening.

Sources at the club have claimed Fay will be under pressure if his team does not pick up maximum points against a DC side which has scored just one goal and taken a single point from its last six matches.

Several furious fans contacted a local radio phone-in following Saturday's dismal 3-3 draw at Larne, and it is understood Fay was summoned to a committee meeting earlier this week where the team's recent poor form was discussed.

But Fay insisted last night that he was not feeling the pressure, stating: "It goes with the territory of being a football manager and you just have to deal with it.

"A few weeks ago everyone was turning on Tommy Wright at Ballymena but he has turned things around.

"Results are everything and we only need a couple of wins to get us going again. We haven't won in four games but look at it another way and we have lost only twice in seven games."

With a tough trip to fellow strugglers Institute on Boxing Day, Dungannon need three points from this evening's clash to avoid being dragged into the scrap at the foot of the table over the busy Christmas period.

And Fay knows that his team must put recent poor form behind them when they face Paddy Kelly's side in another critical match tonight, after admitting that their current mid-table position simply isn't good enough.

"Nobody is too good to go down," he insisted. "I don't want to speculate on being dragged into a relegation battle just as I don't want to speculate on challenging at the other end of the table, but the facts are there.

"There are eight teams above us, seven below us and the table is very tight. We're at the half-way stage in the league but that isn't good enough for a club like Dungannon.

"But football is a funny game and two wins could really lift us up the table. If we're lucky enough to have six points come next Wednesday evening then things will look much more positive.

"The opposite is also true and two defeats would leave us really struggling, but I don't even want to think along those lines. The main priority is to start picking up points as quickly as possible to get ourselves out of this situation. People were quick to criticise the team after two poor defeats against Limavady and Lisburn Distillery but I thought we were unfortunate not to win against Larne last weekend.

" Had we defended two set-pieces we would have won the game."

It has been a tough week for Fay with veteran midfielder Rodney McAree handing in a transfer request after admitting he had "some issues" with the direction the club was taking.

That has since been withdrawn with McAree pledging to remain at the club, and it is understood that Fay retains the support of the dressing room at Stangmore Park.

Belfast Telegraph


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