Belfast Telegraph

Inconsistency a big worry but Cliftonville should be aiming high: Scannell

By Graham Luney

Cliftonville legend Chris Scannell believes the club should strive to win the Danske Bank Premiership title as well as other major prizes.

Reds boss Barry Gray and his players have come in for some criticism after an inconsistent start leaving them sixth in the table.

Eleven points behind league leaders Glenavon, the north Belfast side will need to move through the gears if they want to clinch the Gibson Cup for the first time since 2014.

The Irish Cup final loss to Coleraine was a huge blow to the club but there's a new mindset at Solitude and supporters have high expectations.

With goal machine Joe Gormley leading the attack, the Reds have the firepower to blow away teams but they have only kept one clean sheet in their 11 league games.

Ahead of Cliftonville's trip to Coleraine today, 2009 Ulster Footballer of the Year winner Scannell feels the Reds should aim high.

"I don't think high expectation levels are a bad thing," said former Solitude skipper Scannell, who hammered in 153 goals for the club.

"If you look at their squad, on paper they still have the best strike-force in the league.

"What they need is all the pieces to fall into place behind that.

"That expectation isn't anything to be feared.

"Players should go there aiming to win league titles and other trophies, otherwise they shouldn't be playing for the club. If you don't want to win things, don't join the club.

"I know the club enjoyed a golden period with the title wins but that took 10 to 15 years to build.

"You back to the managers Laurence Stitt, Marty Tabb, Liam Beckett, Eddie Patterson. Eddie fell out with the club but he achieved a lot in bringing the squad forward.

"I believe the club has evolved to a certain level it now has to stay at otherwise it will fall back.

"Supporters can be demanding but they are looking at the squad and believe it's good enough to win matches and trophies."

Gray would love his side to sustain a title challenge but doubts remain over the Reds' consistency.

"I don't think the consistency is there," added Scannell.

"They are conceding silly goals.

"Joe Gormley's goalscoring form is phenomenal but they must also stop conceding goals.

"Tommy Breslin always said that football was a simple game... don't concede, score and you'll win games.

"When Joe and Liam Boyce were playing together, the team was brimming with confidence and had huge momentum."

Gray publicly criticised his players again this week after they lost 4-3 after extra time to Crusaders in the County Antrim Shield.

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