Belfast Telegraph

Warren Feeney has to put his family, not Linfield, first

It’s a sad day for Linfield supporters losing out to Newport

Decision time: Warren Feeney is mulling over a move to Newport County
Decision time: Warren Feeney is mulling over a move to Newport County

By Graham Luney

Warren Feeney loves Linfield but not enough to stay with the biggest club in Ireland.

And the thing is I can’t blame him for a decision he is poised to make today.

Barring a dramatic change of heart the former Northern Ireland international is on his way to become assistant manager at League Two side Newport County. He is also on his way to a family reunion and that has had a major bearing on the biggest call of his football life.

When Feeney joins up with Newport he will be able to see his south Wales based wife and children on a daily basis again after having to make do with phone calls during his time at Linfield. Sometimes family has to beat football.

The fact that Feeney is going to earn three times what he gets at Linfield is also a juicy carrot and the move could also be a stepping stone to bigger opportunities in his coaching career.

I know some supporters, particularly those of rival clubs, are ready to accuse Feeno of a lack of loyalty and leaving the Blues in a state of confusion 10 games into the Danske Bank Premiership season, but how many of us would turn down an exciting job offer that makes sense from a financial and family perspective?

The opportunity to assist his pal John Sheridan at Newport County is clearly one that has captured his imagination.

And being the young and ambitious manager that he is, Warren may even have his sights on the top job at Rodney Parade in the future.

But the one negative aspect to this tale is the reality that a side struggling at the bottom of League Two can entice away the manager of the biggest and most successful club on the island of Ireland.

And not just any manager — someone who has always supported Linfield.

His father, Warren Feeney Sr, played for Linfield in the 1960s, 70s and 80s in two different spells.

Cut Warren Jr and he bleeds blue. Pulling on the Blues jersey was an immensely proud moment for him. Winning the league title? That’s the stuff of boyhood dreams.

As for Newport County, who are they? A club based in south Wales that had to reform after going out of business in 1989.

Belfast comedian Frank Carson, who died at the age of 85 in 2012, became a club director and vice-president in the 1970s and 80s, turning up to lift spirits with his infectious laugh.

Former Linfield, Rangers and Ballymena United defender, the late Billy McCandless, managed County from 1937 to 1946 and at the beginning of his reign he helped them to promotion to Division 2 in 1939 despite using just 13 players throughout the season.

Fast forward to 2015 and another Northern Ireland man could be about to come to the club’s rescue. Warren’s exit would be a headache Linfield could do without but it won’t mean their season is about to go on a downward spiral. The Cliftonville ship has remained pretty steady after Tommy Breslin’s surprise departure last month.

And the Blues look a formidable force this season now that Feeney has assembled a squad of accomplished and hungry Irish League players.

A change of manager now could disrupt some of that momentum.

As Warren contemplates a cross-channel move, one man who appears to be coming home is former Glentoran winger Jordan Stewart.

His Swindon Town dream has been shattered by homesickness and this tale is tinged with so much sadness with Swindon, Glentoran and the player left frustrated.

Jordan remains a wonderfully gifted footballer and we wish him good health and happiness in whatever he chooses to do, but I just hope that in the future he does not look back on this period of his life with regret.

Life can be full of missed opportunities and I hope this isn’t one that will come back to haunt Jordan.

Belfast Telegraph


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