Belfast Telegraph

David Healy is four men short for Linfield title challenge

By Scott Young

Another weekend and another defeat in a big game for Linfield. They just don't seem capable of beating Crusaders or Cliftonville in the Irish League at the moment.

They are behind both in the table right now and in terms of playing staff too.

Linfield fans who were at the 2-1 defeat on Saturday at home to Cliftonville tell me it was an improved performance on the previous week's loss to Crusaders at Windsor Park, but ultimately it was still a defeat.

Blues boss David Healy will not be happy about that at all. He knows it is a results driven business and that sooner rather than later Linfield have to start overcoming the Crues and the Reds in important matches.

It has been a difficult start for Healy since taking over the reins from Warren Feeney, like a baptism of fire seeing his team go up against championship contenders and come out on the wrong side twice in the succession.

But remember this, he is only in the job a few weeks and although he is manager of the club this is not his football team. He has inherited all of the players at his disposal and has not had time yet to stamp his mark on the club.

That doesn't happen overnight, though I am certain in these early weeks in charge already David is finding out a lot about himself as a boss and his players.

Right now I do not believe the current Linfield squad is good enough to finish ahead of Crusaders in the title race, which is obviously Healy's aim.

What needs to happen, and I'm sure David will know this, is for Linfield to recruit four quality new players in January to give themselves any chance.

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Four may sound a lot but I do believe the Blues are THAT short.

The difficult bit is getting players in during the middle of the season who will significantly improve the squad because most of the good players are under contract.

It will be tough signing an Irish League player in January with other teams desperate to hang on to their best performers, which may mean David having to tap into the League of Ireland market or use his considerable contacts across the water to recruit.

Both can be fraught with danger. For starters League of Ireland players will probably be on higher wages than the current Linfield players, so it is up to the board if they are willing to go the extra mile to get someone David may have targeted and when you are moving for professional players from England or Scotland you have to make sure their mentality will be right for Irish League football.

It's pointless signing a 'big name' if they aren't willing to put the work in otherwise they can become an expensive liability.

That is why when David does sign new players, he has to get his selection right. It is one of the key areas of management and if your signings don't work, the fans tend to blame the manager as much as the player himself.

In terms of what type of player Linfield need the ideal one would be Paul Heatley from Crusaders but that is not going to happen. What a difference he would make at Windsor.

They definitely need a wide player who can consistently, and that is the important word here, provide chances for the strikers Andrew Waterworth and Guy Bates, who I feel are a good mix in attack if they are getting the service.

I would also look for a tough midfielder to control the game and a creative one to carve out opportunities for Waterworth to use his pace which will beat just about any defender in the Irish League.

Finally my fourth player would be a defender who can organise and dictate to the rest of the back four to ensure they don't keep conceding sloppy goals.

David may see the positions he needs to strengthen differently, but I'll guarantee you he will feel an injection of new blood is required.

The bottom line is that the current crop haven't been good enough to beat their biggest rivals in the league so players need to be brought in who can.

Belfast Telegraph


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