Glentoran boss saw me as a real threat to his job, says Nacho Novo
Nacho Novo has lifted the lid on his one-year spell at Glentoran, outlining his frustrations, disappointments and why he wanted to become manager of the east Belfast club.
And in a frank interview, the former Rangers star spoke openly about his testing relationship with boss Gary Haveron and the different ideas they had on moving the Oval outfit forward.
Novo's comments come just days before the new Irish League season kicks off with the Glens starting their campaign on Saturday away to Ballinamallard United.
Glentoran fans will be hoping for much better than last term's ninth-place finish in the table yet one year ago there was great optimism among the supporters following the arrival of big name Novo, who had turned down an opportunity to go to the Indian Super League with higher wages so that he could play in Northern Ireland and spend more time with his Scottish-based son Javier.
Less than a month into last season, then Glentoran manager Alan Kernaghan resigned after a humiliating 3-2 defeat to little Annagh United in the League Cup. That night, Novo scored his first goal for the Glens as he strived for the fitness levels he was wanting.
Novo applied for the vacant manager's job and was keen to bring Ibrox legend Ian Durrant with him in a coaching capacity, but the Glentoran board opted for Haveron, who had shown promise while in charge of Carrick Rangers.
Throughout the season as the Glens struggled, Novo was in and out of the starting XI and despite enjoying popularity among the supporters he didn't make the impact he or the club had hoped, scoring just four times in 26 games.
The 38-year-old from Spain feels his decision to throw his hat in the ring to replace former Republic of Ireland defender Kernaghan did not help his relationship with the new man at the helm.
"The killer was when I applied for the (manager's) job and I was going to bring Ian Durrant with me," said Novo.
"If I got it that would be good but at the same time if I didn't get it there would be a confrontation already which is what happened because the next manager would obviously see me as a threat. That was sad because I'm not that type of guy. In my work I would always look to help everybody.
"I saw aspects of the club which I felt I could help to improve but a new manager came in and it never happened. I wanted to help people get better there but some people want to be in control of everything and that's not for me because I'm not a yes man.
"I'm not a person who needs someone to tell me what to do. I have been at the top level for many years and worked with so many good managers so I know in my mind how I want to play, how I want to make players learn and get better, how I want high intensity and professionalism. That's how I work. If people don't like that, you can't do much.
"When I signed the only thing I wanted to do was play and enjoy my football. I was honest saying that it would take me a while to get fit and I tried my best. I got my fitness level and even though I was training well and playing well, I wasn't starting which was disappointing. When I had been playing well and then came out of the team, that was frustrating.
"Obviously you can see there is a problem there. I'm a straight player and if I make a mistake I would be the first person to say I made a mistake, but I found there were some fake people around and that was a shame for me, because I believe Glentoran is a massive club. I was disappointed with things that happened."
Questioned about his relationship with Haveron, Novo stated: "He's a young man. We think differently. I always like straight people, especially when you are a manager. One thing I learned about was being straight with the players.
"I was there to help him and I don't want to get into any confrontation because I'm better than that. I wish him all the best in his managerial career and that's all I want to say."
Asked what Haveron said to him on his departure, Novo said: "I am still waiting for the phone call!"
He was keen to point out, however, that he wishes the Glens well this season and will never forget the support he received from the Oval supporters.
"The people I feel for are the supporters, who were amazing with me. They supported me through the bad times," said Novo. "The fans at Glentoran were great and I made lots of friends there and people treated me amazingly which is something I won't forget.
"I would always wish the best for that football club. I think it is a great football club. It is one of the biggest football clubs in Northern Ireland and you could see the great travelling support they had. I have no bad feelings about the football club and wish them success in the future."
Glentoran's Big Two rivals Linfield of course won the treble last season, including the league and Irish Cup. Novo believes manager David Healy and the Blues board backing him was crucial to that success.
"David got support from the board when things weren't going so well and they gave him a chance when he was getting criticism," said the ex-Rangers star. "Sometimes when a manager is given confidence things work out. David showed his qualities and they virtually won everything.
"David has made money for the club which will make them strong for buying players and also with him being a Northern Ireland legend players want to play for him and learn from him which is understandable.
"I thought in my time in Northern Ireland the standard was good. I saw so many good young players who had lots of quality and for me there are players in the league who can get better and go across the water and make a career."
Glens boss Gary Haveron was contacted last night but was unavailable for comment.