Belfast Telegraph

I’ll turn Cliftonville into an exciting force again, vows new boss McLaughlin

New era: Paddy McLaughlin is unveiled at Solitude yesterday.
New era: Paddy McLaughlin is unveiled at Solitude yesterday.
New era: Paddy McLaughlin is unveiled at Solitude yesterday

By Conor McLaughlin

Paddy McLaughlin says his football philosophy is a perfect fit for Cliftonville and he has vowed to help the Reds rediscover their identity after being unveiled last night as the club’s new manager.

McLaughlin, following a successful 21- month spell at Institute, quit the Londonderry club yesterday to take up the reins at Solitude.

The 39-year-old has won plaudits for the style of play he implemented at Stute and is determined to apply the same principles in north Belfast.

“Cliftonville is a club that’s famous for playing good football, entertaining the fans and being exciting to watch and that’s what I want to bring back here,” said McLaughlin, who oversaw his first Cliftonville training session last night.

“It’s not that long ago that this club was winning leagues and trophies and, all through that period, everybody loved the way they played the game.

“I’m no different and I know from my own days as a player that you much prefer to be in a team that gets the ball down and plays football on the ground.

“I’ve carried that philosophy with me when I went into coaching and I want my players to enjoy playing the game.”

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McLaughlin continued: “I was lucky enough to work under some great managers and you try to learn as much as you can from them. The likes of Paul Kee and Stephen Kenny were great inspirations to me and you see where they’ve gone on to and what they’ve done, it shows you how lucky I was to have worked with them in my career.”

McLaughlin, who will take charge of Cliftonville for the first time when they play host to Newry City on Saturday, saw off stern competition from former Derry City manager Kenny Shiels and ex-Linfield boss Warren Feeney to land the job vacated by Barry Gray.

Chairman Gerard Lawlor explained: “There were very specific things we were looking for in our new manager and we were very lucky in that we received applications from a high calibre of people.

“A number of them were interviewed by an independent panel and all of them had huge strengths, but Paddy just stood out as having that little niche that we were looking for.”

There’s a certain irony to the Creggan man’s appointment given it was a 6-4 defeat to his Institute side just before Christmas that sent the Reds into the nosedive that ultimately cost Gray his job — and McLaughlin admits there are similarities between the short-term task he faces at Solitude and the one he left behind at ’Stute.

“Both teams score goals for fun but also tend to concede a few soft goals so that’s definitely something we’ll be working on,” added McLaughlin, himself a former centre-half who represented Derry City, Coleraine and Finn Harps before seeing out his playing days with Institute.

“I don’t want to make any false promises to the fans because it takes time to get a playing style across, but that changing room is full of quality players, some of them would walk into any team in Ireland, and we need to prepare well this week, go into the Newry game on Saturday and try to start by getting three points.

“We’re not here to see out the season in holiday mode. We want to climb the table and have a crack at qualifying for Europe.”

McLaughlin — who had been scheduled to hold an introductory meeting with his players — insisted on taking to the training pitch and said: “I told the chairman to make sure the players brought their boots. I’m not just here to have my photo taken.”

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