Belfast Telegraph

Ballymena United boss David Jeffrey won't let critics affect his plans

By Billy Weir

David Jeffrey acknowledges the honeymoon period is well and truly over at Warden Street as the first grumblings of discontent emerge from the Sky Blues faithful.

Hailed by some as the Messiah after securing Premiership survival last season, to steal a line from Monty Python, it was just a mess last weekend as Ballymena United shipped in another four goals at home to Ards.

Going into tonight's clash at Carrick Rangers, it means they have conceded 13 goals in just four outings, or three counting the clean sheet against Ballinamallard United.

There were dissenting voices at the final whistle last weekend as Jeffrey's new-look team capitulated but for a man who has been in the firing line most of his managerial career, it is something he takes in his stride.

"I've already heard some of them having a go at Jeffrey but anybody who thinks any abuse from the stands is going to affect me, it is water off a duck's back," said the former Linfield boss.

"I'm really disappointed for the supporters and I can understand the frustration and their disappointment and not that they need to be reassured but their disappointment and frustration doesn't come close to mine.

"Everything is set up here for the club to go forward. The club has backed me 110 per cent from big things to the little things, the players are well looked after but the reality is they've got to do it on the pitch, week-in, week-out.

"That is the challenge and that's learning for me, it's trying to ensure there is a level of consistency that brings us results every week.

"It will be a journey and we're four games into it, but the Ards game just about epitomised everything, the errors were so simple. Stop a cross or if a cross does come in pick up your man - simple.

"That's not berating the players or having a go at them, I told them I'm not going to publicly criticise them but at the same time I'm not going to blow smoke up your backside.

"I'm not hammering the players by any stretch of the imagination, I'm learning about them, they're learning about me and I'm learning all the time what we need to do to make them better."

He is hardly the first and certainly won't be the last man in charge at The Showgrounds to have these experiences and Jeffrey has his own theory on where the problem lies.

"It seems to be a culture. I remember many, many years ago, when Brian McLoughlin and I first came out, there were certainly good Ballymena teams about but it was more how they did against Linfield or Glentoran or the bigger sides or in the cup competitions," he added.

"If they had one or two memorable results in a season that was fine and everything was well and we're trying to change that mindset and the culture.

"We've had 12 go out and quite a number come in but to remove that malaise is going to be down to hard work in training.

"There was no bawling, no shouting, no yelling, no finger-pointing, there's no point in doing that because that will just lead to a whole negativity and blame culture. The reality is I am the manager and the buck stops with me - end of story."

A trip to Carrick, where United secured their survival last season, is another of those games that Jeffrey targets as a must-win if the Braidmen are to take the next step forward - a place in the top six.

"I knew this was a big job and I knew it was a hard job but maybe didn't appreciate just how hard but I won't be shying away from it," he said.

"One player said to me, 'David, you tell us what to do, we have the information, we know what to do and it's not as if people do it on purpose but we don't do it'.

"I'm talking about wanting to be a top-six club, but at this moment we're looking at fighting relegation again. It's only four games into the season and we're not going to push the crisis button but that's the reality.

"Against Crusaders and Glenavon anything you get is a bonus, but you're looking at the teams around you and if you want to get into that top six you've got to be taking points off them."

  • Carrick Rgrs v Ballymena Utd, Danske Bank Premiership: Belfast Loughshore Arena, 7.45pm

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph