Linfield manager David Jeffrey gets back to basics
Linfield manager David Jeffrey has told his players that their ability is not in doubt — and neither is their mental strength.
And the Windsor Park boss has claimed that he was forced to ditch the formation that he employed in Europe because it’s a system that will never work for Linfield in domestic competition.
Two games into the defence of their Carling Premiership title, the Blues have picked up just one point — but for any Bluemen who doesn’t remember 12 months ago, it was four games into the season before their team won a match.
And that is why, despite his frustrations, Jeffrey isn’t reading the riot act to his troops.
Instead it is with careful thought and consideration that the Linfield chief has reminded his men of exactly what they are capable of.
“We’d a similar start last season. A crisis at the start of the season and one halfway through, but we still won the double,” smiled Jeffrey.
“The message to the players has been not to get uptight, to remember they are good players, they are double champions and we’re only two games into the season, so there is no panic.
“The attitude and work-rate of the players has been excellent and for 30 minutes against Dugannon we were on top.
“I have told them that because it’s Linfield and because we have only picked up one point from the opening two league games that people are going to jump on it, but the quality hasn’t suddenly disappeared.
“I’ve also reminded them that teams will raise their game against
us and they have to be on top of their game every week to contend with that. And to do that you have to be mentally strong too.”
Jeffrey started the campaign at home to Ballymena United two weeks ago by employing the 4-2-3-1 formation that served the Blues well in their Champions League games against Rosenborg — although ultimately their efforts ended in failure.
Now, however, after less than 90 minutes of trying it at domestic level, as the Sky Blues battled to a 0-0 draw at Windsor Park, the system has been scrapped with the Blues going back to their more familiar 4-4-2 formation.
And it’s a case of back to basics for Jeffrey as he goes about getting that first victory of the season at home to Lisburn Distillery at Windsor Park this afternoon.
“Our pre-season was basically all about preparing for Europe and then when you come into your own league you have to adapt,” said Jeffrey.
“The Ballymena game reminded me that we can’t play the same way at home as we do in Europe.
“In the second-half we went to 4-4-2 because the 4-2-3-1 isn’t a formation that will work for Linfield at home despite it working very well in our two European games.
“I wouldn’t say it’s a system that won’t work in the Irish League, because I expect that teams will use it against us.
“Dungannon used it against us last weekend and quite successfully too, but they didn’t have any sustained pressure.
“It just won’t work for Linfield because it’s a system that is all about counter-attacking.
“Teams will try to counter-attack us, but Linfield attack teams in the Irish League. We don’t counter-attack.”