Belfast Telegraph

Sky Blues taking a real risk

Club need investment to reach for the next level, not a new manager

By Scott Young

I'm deeply saddened by the news that Ballymena United have pulled the trigger and sacked Glenn Ferguson.

In my time in the Irish League, the two greats in my eyes have been Linfield legend Ferguson, affectionately known as 'Spike', and Crusaders defender Glen Dunlop.

No so long ago Spike was being linked with the Linfield job, now he's been sacked by United. Football is a cruel business but as we all know, nothing surprises us - particularly in the Irish League.

I feel sorry for Glenn. It's always tough when you lose your job. Managers put so much time and effort into their jobs and a lot of supporters don't realise that.

I'm disappointed for him but it begs the question, where do Ballymena United want to go as a football club?

They obviously want a new man in to try and take the club forward but are they going to cough up more finances?

Was Ferguson given the resources he needed to invest in the squad to make it capable of challenging for a top six place?

Spike guided the club to two County Antrim Shield victories, an Irish Cup final and League Cup decider.

League form has been inconsistent and it's been a real struggle for them to make the top six.

But any new manager is going to struggle to take United to the next level if the investment isn't there.

Ironically, the Sky Blues could still qualify for Europe through the new play-off system if they finish in seventh.

Results have been unacceptable and Glenn would be the first to admit that but since I arrived in Northern Ireland back in 1998, United have been a yo-yo club and despite their big fan-base they have never been challenging at the top or winning trophies for fun.

Coleraine are their derby rivals and their resurgence has possibly increased the frustration at United but it would be unfair to compare the two sides. What Oran Kearney and his players are achieving this season is not the norm, it's the exception. United have never been a club that has consistently challenged in the top four or five.

Coleraine have also endured worrying times in the last few seasons, but in contrast to United they have backed their manager and are now reaping the benefits of that.

They've also had players like Rory Patterson and Stephen Carson so there has been investment in the squad.

With United not in action in the Irish Cup this weekend they possibly feel they have time to pick a successor but although David Jeffrey may be on their wanted list I would eat my hat if he was willing.

David is a winner and he's won titles galore with Linfield. Why would he want to take charge at United, knowing he would have limited funds to do the massive rebuilding job?

David is enjoying a stress-free life away from the game and he's looking fantastic.

Why would he want to walk into that high pressure environment? David is used to success, he's not used to struggling in the league and hoping for a good cup run.

Other candidates such as Matthew Tipton and Eddie Patterson are more likely contenders. United have taken a huge gamble when there's still all to fight for in the bottom half of the table.

It's one that could yet have disastrous consequences.

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