| 11.9°C Belfast

Baxter not feeling heat at Crusaders


Crusaders manager Stephen Baxter

Crusaders manager Stephen Baxter

Crusaders manager Stephen Baxter

Stephen Baxter has insisted he isn’t feeling the pressure of guiding Crusaders to a first league title since 1997.

After Baxter was sent off in the explosive Boxing Day clash with Cliftonville, former Linfield and Glentoran title winning boss Roy Coyle said: “Pressure does that to managers”.

However, the Seaview supremo says he isn’t feeling a heavy weight of expectation on his shoulders.

The Crues are four points clear at the top of the Carling Premiership and have an opportunity to extend their lead at the summit tomorrow when Ballymena United are in north Belfast for the only fixture that has survived the cold snap.

“I think the pressure always comes from within,” said Baxter. “I put the pressure on myself.

“This support base and the committee don’t have expectation levels that are through the roof.

“They know that we are probably punching miles above our weight. They are delighted that they are getting out of a financial hole and are still being competitive.

“I don’t feel any weight of expectation. We won an Irish Cup for the first time in 41 years, we haven’t won a league title since I played here.

“Could we win the league title? It would take us to carry a fair bit of luck in the process. Yes we will be in there competing but against teams like Glentoran and Linfield it is always difficult.

“They can go into the transfer window and pay a player six, seven, eight hundred pounds a week while we can’t pay them £80 a week at this time of the year.

“It’s all relative. Our fans know where we are coming from. They love to see a good, competitive performance and they don’t give us abuse. We were nearly relegated four or five years ago!”

Meanwhile, fans planning to attend today’s games are advised of new turnstile arrangements to accommodate work on new floodlights. Anyone wishing to access the grandstand should enter the venue by the two turnstiles on that side of the ground.

Ballymena United fans are not affected by these arrangements and will access through the usual turnstiles for away supporters on the Shore Road. It is anticipated that this arrangement may be in place for three weeks.

A club statement read: “Crusaders Football Club apologise for any inconvenience caused to supporters but this is necessary to bring help bring Seaview up to an acceptable standard and it will benefit everyone in the long term.”

Belfast Telegraph