Belfast Telegraph

Comment: Glentoran need time and patience after managerial legend bows out

New Glentoran manager Gary Smyth and assistant Paul Leeman
New Glentoran manager Gary Smyth and assistant Paul Leeman

By Billy Weir

And so it is farewell to one managerial legend and hello to two other legends still very much with L-plates on when it comes to sitting in the dugout.

Ronnie McFall's decision to call it a day means we have probably witnessed the end of one of local football's greatest ever managers, a man who turned Portadown from a little club into the most feared in the land.

His second spell at Glentoran ended with slightly less acrimony than his first but in many ways the 'crisis' they were in when they dispensed with his services all those years ago is nothing compared to the hole they are in now.

Saturday's Tennent's Irish Cup defeat, the first game in charge for new manager Gary Smyth and assistant Paul Leeman, couldn't really have been tougher, a 4-1 hammering by Crusaders, arguably the hottest team in the country at the moment.

The Glens are in their worst run of form ever, languishing in ninth at the minute and with Warrenpoint Town and Institute - their next two opponents - between them and the promised land of the top six.

Smyth is a legend in the local game, a true gentleman and has served his managerial apprenticeship with an invaluable stint at Harland and Wolff Welders, and in Leeman he has a man who was class on and off the pitch.

What they need now is time and patience, not commodities usually found in vast sums at The Oval, but with neither man possessing the Pro Licence needed for European football it means that the prospect of continental action in the east of the city will depend on heading off to Magaluf from the City Airport.

They need a good January on the pitch, they have to start picking up points as 'they're too good to go down' has sunk plenty of other teams over the years. Money has to be made available to strengthen the squad, whether it be from Iran or down the back of a sofa, but we all need a strong Glentoran in local football, the number of fans they took to Seaview and to Windsor Park on Boxing Day show they are still a massive club.

Good luck to Smicker and Leeper, you may need it. And to Big Ronnie, thanks for the memories.

Belfast Telegraph


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