Belfast Telegraph

Mad, sad world if Tommy Breslin is close to exit door

Fans and clubs must never lose sight of the bigger picture

Feeling down: Tommy Breslin needs his players to show they back him
Feeling down: Tommy Breslin needs his players to show they back him
Glentoran manager Eddie Patterson

By Graham Luney

I've never heard so much nonsense in a long time. The news that Tommy Breslin and his management team are considering whether they should take Cliftonville forward sends a shiver down my spine.

We all cherish football and I'm in a privileged position in being able to write about it but if the game keeps moving in this direction, my affection for it is going to rapidly fade.

I've never been a manager so I can only imagine the pain, anger and embarrassment they feel after suffering a heavy loss.

After the Reds were battered 6-1 at Ballymena United on Saturday, Tommy said he would walk away if he could not command the support of the players.

But in the cold light of day, there's a rational voice in my head telling me we should all stay focused on the bigger picture. The problem is we aren't doing that.

The bigger picture in Cliftonville's world is they are only three points behind champions Crusaders! Hardly crisis territory.

And Tommy, a wonderful character who you could never dislike, is the Reds' greatest ever manager after masterminding back-to-back title wins in 2013 and 2014, three successive League Cups between 2013-15 and County Antrim Shield success in 2011 and 2015.

We are seeing a dangerous trend which must stop.

After a 3-0 loss to Coleraine earlier this month, Darren Murphy cast doubt on his future as Dungannon Swifts boss.

Sky Blues manager Glenn Ferguson came under severe pressure before three wins on the spin removed some of the heat.

This season I've heard people say Glentoran manager Eddie Patterson may not be at The Oval for long while Coleraine chief Oran Kearney always seems to be operating under a dark cloud after coming through a few stormy periods last season.

The disease is also sweeping across England with the Special One Jose Mourinho being written off as yesterday's man at Chelsea.

As for Brendan Rodgers, he's a dead man walking at Liverpool.

I do feel for managers. The margins between success and failure are so tiny.

Had refereeing decisions gone Portadown's way in the Irish Cup final in May, they would have been celebrating, not Glentoran.

As for Patterson, feeling the heat - this is a man who has won the Irish Cup twice in three seasons, the first victory coming despite players refusing to train on two occasions due to late wage payments!

It should be obvious to everyone that all managers need time.

Stephen Baxter needed 10 years to build a championship-winning Crusaders team.

And yet if the Crues lose their next three matches, we might see Mr Angry from Tigers Bay shouting towards the dugout, 'Sort it out Baxter, you don't know what you're doing!'

Managers need the support of fans and club officials when the going gets tough.

Defeats are inevitable and in this game you have to take the rough with the smooth.

Players also don't become bad players overnight just because of one heavy loss.

Criticism, which sometimes crosses the line into personal abuse, can be unrelenting as it comes thick and fast on social media.

This demand for instant gratification sickens me.

David Jeffrey needed support during his early years as Linfield boss and history has taught us - look at Sir Alex Ferguson's early woes at Manchester United - that when clubs hold their nerve and keep the faith, they can be rewarded.

When it's not working over a significant period of time there is a need for change but sometimes we've got to be careful what we wish for.

Where would Northern Ireland be now if the Irish FA had not shown faith in Michael O'Neill, a man who took 10 games to record his first victory as manager and had to explain some of our country's most embarrassing defeats?

Northern Ireland's Euro 2016 qualifying campaign could not be more perfectly timed as it reminds me of the game's romance.

Meanwhile, club managers will continue to step carefully through minefields.

Belfast Telegraph


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