Belfast Telegraph

Double success could come out of the blue for David Healy's Linfield

By Scott Young

Could Linfield be about to win their first league and Irish Cup double in four years?

It's possible of course - as football is a crazy game - and the Blues are certainly piling pressure on Danske Bank Premiership leaders Crusaders.

David Healy's men have won eight of their last 10 league battles and they won't give up the fight.

It would certainly generate a lot more interest if we could have a thrilling conclusion to the title race.

A lot of people - including, I'm sure, a few Blues fans - were questioning David as a manager late last year, but he deserves immense credit for weathering that storm and transforming Linfield into a side which can still clinch a double.

I've always spoken up for David.

When Linfield were going through a rough time in November I knew he would find out more about himself and the character of his players.

He always needed to be given time to impose his ideas on the team and now the players are mirroring his hunger and desire.

He also believes in giving young players a chance and striker Paul Smyth has made a huge impact.

Stephen Lowry is back in the squad and the competition for places is phenomenal.

And if we are going to judge managers by the players they bring to the club then David deserves top marks.

Former Dundalk, Sligo Rovers and Cork City ace Ross Gaynor, who joined in December, is showing all of us what a quality player he is.

I watched a lot of League of Ireland matches and Ross always caught my eye.

The Linfield v Glentoran fixture is considered to be the biggest derby game in the Irish League, but after the Glens were put to the sword on Saturday Ross is probably thinking, 'what is all the fuss about?'

Glentoran's poor form is detrimental to the Irish League, but Linfield's resurgence should excite their fans and also be a source of concern to Crusaders.

The Crues are still in the driving seat and if they can win their game in hand an eight-point advantage is a hell of a lead at this stage of the season.

If the league campaign went on for a further five matches I would have more belief Linfield could win it, but they may just run out of time.

Crusaders aren't daft and they will know they must keep winning matches.

What the Blues are doing is trying to put that element of doubt in their minds, making them fear there could be one big twist at the finish.

Although the Crues aren't firing on all cylinders they are a still hard to beat.

Linfeld fans will admit that it's still advantage to the league leaders, but they are justifiably excited about the future. An Irish Cup final appearance is on the horizon and while the league championship would be a huge bonus the signs are very positive for next season.

David will no doubt keep looking at the League of Ireland for players and the opportunity to work with the most famous Northern Ireland footballer of the last 20 years at an impressive, modern stadium, combined with the chance to win silverware, will be a huge attraction for players.

While David continues to win admirers at Linfield, Blues legend David Jeffrey made an impressive start as Sky Blues boss, holding the champions 0-0 at Seaview.

That was typical of big Davy and it's great to have him back as the Irish League needs more characters. In the Big Two games I used to watch Linfield players celebrate goals and victories with David and I asked myself 'what was that all about?'

Then as I got to know him I began to realise that David made his players feel 10-feet tall and they were willing to fight for him. Ballymena United players will give their all for him, but David will know he has taken on a huge task.

When Linfield boss he was used to winning football matches. Now he's looking to resurrect the Sky Blues, but the club must have told him what he wanted to hear. They must have presented an ambitious plan that convinced David to make a return.

He's off to a promising start, but keeping it going is the hard part!

Belfast Telegraph


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