It was typical David Jeffrey. Rumours were circulating throughout Irish League football that he was on his way out of Linfield. The big man with an even bigger personality was leaving Windsor Park.
“I’m no quitter,” he raged.
This wasn’t a few days ago by the way, this was over a decade ago!
Jeffrey has been down this road before. It’s a journey that just about every Linfield manager travels, such is the expectation and pressure that comes with the role.
Jeffrey was appointed boss at Linfield way back in 1997, after Trevor Anderson had jumped ship to take over as Director of Football at Newry.
A bit like Sir Alex Ferguson leaving Manchester United for Stoke!
Jeffrey’s appointment was written in the stars.
As a kid he used to travel on a bus through the Glentoran loving streets of east Belfast with his coat pulled up around his neck to hide a Linfield scarf.
First the fan, then a player, the captain, assistant manager and then the boss himself.
In those early days as manager he had to pinch himself.
He realised soon though that behind the dream lay a reality that Linfield fans are the most demanding around. Under pressure in his early years, I recall a Cup Final win over Glentoran that kept him in his job.
From there he went on to astonishing success with the Blues winning titles, Irish Cups and just about everything else.
From 2005 to 2008 Jeffrey guided Linfield to three doubles in a row, the domestic Grand Slam and the Setanta Cup. Incredible stuff.
Yet, even then fans were critical. I remember one match when Linfield were 4-0 up and a few supporters at Windsor started jeering because someone passed the ball back rather than forward. See what I mean about demanding.
Facing that mentality, it’s amazing to think that Jeffrey has lasted at the club for so long. The more time you spend in one place, however, the more your presence can be resented.
Recently it’s been suggested that there are some on the Linfield board who are starting to think that Jeffrey’s time is up, following on from a trophyless season last time out and shocking inconsistency this term.
Yes, Jeffrey has made mistakes — he should have kept Glenn Ferguson for one more year — but face facts here, the guy has got a lot more right down the years than he has got wrong. And he’ll get it right again given a little bit of time.
Managing Linfield is the toughest job in Irish football. And the best man for it remains David Jeffrey.
Linfield without Jeffrey would be like a fish supper without the chips. Getting rid of him would be stupid.
He still has a few tricks up his sleeve, like bringing Peter Thompson back for one. Some see it as desperation.
I’d call it a masterstroke and one that may take an average Linfield team, in comparison to some of Jeffrey’s brilliant sides, to yet another title.