Belfast Telegraph

Linfield players failing to deliver

By Scott Young

Since David Healy became manager of Linfield, Northern Ireland's record goalscorer has been the subject of much debate, in this column and elsewhere.

Today I'm turing my attention to the Linfield players on the back of Saturday's 1-1 draw in the Premiership at home to Ballinamallard.

Previously I stated that Linfield needed to sign four more quality players to challenge for the title. I might have to re-adjust my figures. They may need even more!

Linfield entered the weekend having secured a good win against Coleraine last time out which took a bit of pressure of the manager.

It looked as though that trend would continue when Andy Waterworth gave them a first-half lead against Ballinamallard. Things got better for the Blues when ex-Glentoran midfielder Shane McCabe was sent off.

At that point, Linfield were in the driving seat. What they needed to do was step on the gas and score a second to secure the win against 10 men.

The fact that they allowed Ballinamallard to level through Michael McCrudden and let the game slip through their fingers and end in a 1-1 draw tells you all you need to know about the problems at Windsor Park.

And on this occasion, it is not the boss who should come in for stick. The result on Saturday was down to the players - plain and simple.

They should have seen the game out. With respect hey were at home to Ballinamallard not Barcelona. Not being able to do that says the current Linfield players simply aren't good enough.

And another thing, it says that after Ballinamallard equalised not enough Linfield players had the mental strength to pick themselves up and go up the other end and score again.

Linfield is the biggest club in Northern Ireland. To play for a side like that you need to be able to handle the demands and pressure of the big stage. The failure to do that has been going on for far too long.

This season will be the fourth in succession that Linfield have not won the league. This failure hasn't just happened on David Healy's watch. It was going on before he arrived.

The big question is will the Linfield board address it? If the answer is yes, the team needs a major overhaul and the club has to be prepared to break its wage structure to bring in players who are good enough to claim a league title.

Right now if you were naming an Irish League XI, not one Linfield player would make the team. That XI would be made up of Crusaders, Cliftonville and Glenavon players.

Tonight Linfield play Carrick Rangers in the County Antrim Shield semi-final. They need to produce a response to the weekend.

No disrespect meant, but they should be capable of beating Carrick at Windsor.

When Linfield dominated the scene, they had leaders like Glenn Ferguson and William Murphy who would tell their team-mates what was required when they wore the blue shirt. New leaders must emerge.

Healy has taken a lot of criticism, but the players let him down on Saturday.

Some people may think this is an ex-Glentoran player and manager sticking the boot into the Blues. It's not. My gut feeling is that too many Linfield players aren't good enough for the club..

I reckon quite a few Blues fans would agree with me.

Belfast Telegraph


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