David Jeffrey: Marc my words, Crusaders are simply the best
Marc Smyth may need to take off his rose tinted glasses.
In the excitement of last week’s League Cup success with Cliftonville, an incredible fourth successive triumph in that competition, the combative defender stated that ‘the Reds were the best team in the League’ and that ‘ no team comes close’.
The euphoria obviously went to Marc’s head because while I think Cliftonville are an excellent team, they are most certainly not the best team in the League. I know injuries can hurt teams, but still, the best team, in my view, is always the side that wins the Gibson Cup.
You can have all the Cup success you want but even if Cliftonville win the Irish Cup this year for a Cup double, I wouldn’t consider them the best team in the Irish League.
Crusaders are that team at the minute. They are in pole position to retain the League title. I’m not going to say the Crues have already won it, that was my pet hate when I was manager of Linfield.
But Stephen Baxter’s men are in an excellent position and as it stands, the Crues are the Irish League’s greatest team.
Yesterday Crusaders played like a team of champions and certainly celebrated as though they had won the famous Gibson Cup.
Cliftonville, I felt, probably deserved a point. They were dangerous and industrious – the Reds certainly created chances to draw level after the early goal through Paul Heatley but the Crues back five was immense. In particular Colin Coates and Josh Robinson stood firm while Billy Joe Burns, when he was on the pitch, gave his usual and standard strong display. Andrew Mitchell when he came on was effective and Crusaders worked ever so hard for all three points.
I felt Billy Joe, who received two yellow cards for his sending off, could not argue with the second caution but the first one was never a yellow and therefore he should feel unlucky today that he received his marching orders. Ross Dunlop got that decision wrong, but thankfully for the Crues, it didn’t have too much of a bearing on the game.
Crusaders are now 12 points clear of the Reds, and seven ahead of Linfield, but with a game in hand.
They are in a great position and have certainly been the most impressive team so far this season.
Therefore, Marc Smyth may have to eat some humble pie.