Belfast Telegraph

Never mind Denmark, something stinks at Reds

By Billy Weir

"It's easy for me to come out here and keep pointing fingers back at the players. Did I expect us to be in a different position at this stage of the season? Yes. Are we? No, but that's my job and my responsibility."

The words of Cliftonville manager Barry Gray. No, not on Saturday after their toothless display against Newry City but almost a year to the day ago when it was Groundhog Day in another 1-0 loss, this time at Ballymena.

"But I can't take responsibility for performance levels as I don't dictate them, but I'll take responsibility for where we are at the minute and what we have to do going forward," he added that day.

And, after a while, they did go forward, the goals started to flow, the Reds performed brilliantly to reach the final of the Tennent's Irish Cup and win the Europa League play-off.

But the slovenly start to this year's campaign means they are already slipping off the pace and once again the manager has been laying into his players.

While I'm not sure if he is a fan of Hamlet, things may have been rotten in Denmark - where, ironically, the Reds' Euro adventure took them - but they are, in his words, 'stinking' at Cliftonville.

"Our boys came into the game like they have in every game so far, their attitude was stinking and it has been stinking," he fumed last Saturday.

"The attitude is completely wrong from inside our team, right across the board.

"It's boys bluffing themselves as well. Bar two players, one that played in the back line and one that played in midfield, everyone else was a pure and utter disgrace to the Cliftonville badge today." Strong words, but maybe too many people have taken their eye off the ball at matters on the pitch with protests about anthems, accusations of harsh treatment by the powers-that-be and Shakegate at Solitude a fortnight ago.

As rumour upon rumour keeps emerging from the club, it's time for the sniping to stop and the winning to begin - and means tomorrow night's game against Institute becomes huge to stop the rot.

Belfast Telegraph


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