Belfast Telegraph

Curran is keen to retain that winning feeling by getting one over on Crues

All change: Chris Curran says there's a new feel around Reds
All change: Chris Curran says there's a new feel around Reds

By Alex Mills

Skipper Chris Curran believes there will be a hint of revenge on the agenda when Cliftonville face north Belfast rivals Crusaders at Solitude today.

The Reds, pushing for a fourth-placed finish in the Danske Bank Premiership, are still smarting from last month's defeat at the home of the outgoing champions - Paddy McLaughlin's second negative result since moving into the manager's chair.

With a European qualifier looming at the end of the term, Curran reckons it's vital his team maintain a winning momentum.

"We have been on a good run, beaten only twice since Paddy took charge, and they were both away from home," stated Curran.

"There are positive vibes about the club. The boys have responded to Paddy and everyone appears to be enjoying themselves.

"We will be guaranteed a home semi-final tie in the Euro play-off even if we finish in fifth. In saying that, we are still trying to finish as high up the table as we can.

"The European qualifier is vital to us. The other clubs involved will be saying the same thing. The money it generates is massive and can be the life blood of any club.

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"It can ultimately dictate the manager's budget, so it's huge. If we want to get back to where we were a few seasons ago, we know it's vital to bring European football back to Cliftonville."

Curran is expecting another battle of attrition when Stephen Baxter's boys make the short journey up the road to Solitude.

"The defeat at Seaview still haunts us," he said. "We were so disappointed with our display at their place. We are now at home, so it's an ideal chance for us to get our own back.

"We are in a better position now than we were a few weeks back. We are playing a lot more football under Paddy. There is a lot more confidence in the side.

"It's never an easy game against Crusaders. We know it will take 90 minutes of graft if we want to get three points. They may have one eye on the Irish Cup final, but I've no doubt they'll still be coming to Solitude for a win.

"There is no reason why we can't get a result in front of our home fans. It's always a battle and sometimes there is very little football played because both teams tend to cancel each other out."

Curran insists new boss McLaughlin has now got the team playing with a new zest.

"Paddy has settled in really well, the players are all comfortable with him," he added. "He has altered our style. He has got us all working hard and he's not afraid to give young players a chance.

"The boys have responded really well and that has been reflected in our performances and our results. But we all know it's a results-based business, so hopefully we can produce some of the good football we have been producing against the Crues and get a result.

"Our record against our biggest rivals hasn't really been good enough of late."

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