Belfast Telegraph

Gerard Lyttle deserves chance to keep Cliftonville shooting for glory after Tommy Breslin shock departure

Main man: Gerard Lyttle has been appointed interim boss at Solitude
Main man: Gerard Lyttle has been appointed interim boss at Solitude

By Graham Luney

Unless Jurgen Klopp is waiting for the job advertisement to appear in the North Belfast News, Cliftonville would be crazy to appoint an outsider as manager.

Linfield legend David Jeffrey is available but perhaps I have a better chance of stopping a Cristiano Ronaldo penalty while being blindfolded and handcuffed.

There will be plenty of applications for the Reds job following Tommy Breslin's surprise exit but Cliftonville don't have to look far and wide for the perfect replacement.

This is Gerard Lyttle's time and 'Skin' has earned the chance to pit his wits against other Premier League bosses.

Firstly, Gerard is right to say there is no doom and gloom at Solitude.

I didn't see too many planes flying over the north Belfast venue with a banner carrying the message 'It's time for Bressy to go'. If Jeffrey was the pilot the words would be 'It's time for Thomas to go!'

The Reds aren't exactly in crisis. They are only one point behind champions Crusaders and five adrift of leaders Linfield. All the trophies are up for grabs and two of them - the County Antrim Shield and League Cup - can be found at Solitude.

It would be ironic if Cliftonville went on to win the Irish Cup this season, the only prize that slipped out of Breslin's hands. Gerard is now the perfect fit for the Solitude side and anyone who thinks he's lacking experience needs a reality check. Gerard was appointed coach in the summer of 2011 and he's helped to write this glorious chapter in Cliftonville's history.

Read more:

Tommy Breslin rejects Cliftonville chairman's pleas to stay as boss Tommy Breslin took Cliftonville to a new level Former Cliftonville boss Tommy Breslin may return after taking break

Successful managers need the support of a dedicated team of helpers who perform various roles and Gerard's contribution on the training ground and in the dressing room helped make the Reds the most feared team in the country.

After gaining managerial experience with Amateur League Premier Division side Malachians, Gerard's passion for coaching saw him complete his Pro Licence course and this Cliftonville post would be his dream role.

The former defender played more than 60 times for Cliftonville and he understands what the club means to the Red Army.

He also has experience in the professional game from his time spent at Celtic, Peterborough United and Northampton Town so he can relate to young players' desire to play at a higher level and the challenges they face when chasing their dreams.

The 37-year-old is respected by the players and despite what some doom merchants might argue, Breslin has left behind a very strong squad capable of winning more silverware.

If Gerard is handed the big job, he will have to take more responsibility and pressure on his shoulders and there will inevitably be some tension in the future when players are given the hairdryer or left out of the team.

But every manager needs to have a ruthless side and Gerard will do what he needs to do to keep the Reds at the right end of the league table.

After losing Rory Donnelly, Liam Boyce and Joe Gormley, the club were always going to experience a little turbulence. Players of this quality don't simply drop from the trees when autumn comes.

Breslin's exit will also spark fears of a crisis at Solitude but Gerard can steady the ship and keep it sailing.

The club's management committee meet tomorrow night to consider their options and in my view Gerard, at the very least, should be backed until the end of the season and the managerial situation reviewed again.

Meanwhile, Bressy has a wonderful talent for keeping things in perspective and he's accurate when he states "no-one has died".

He's looking forward to a holiday but he won't go on a cruise as he's not a fan of water. All those years spent conquering his fears beside the Waterworks and we never knew!

Belfast Telegraph


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