Belfast Telegraph

We're working to fix this, trust me: Cliftonville boss Barry Gray

Glenavon 3 Cliftonville 1

By Adam McKendry

Cliftonville manager Barry Gray said he's not going to give up on turning around his side's fortunes after their fourth defeat of the season.

Gray's men lost 3-1 at Glenavon on Saturday in yet another dismal performance and are now seventh in the table after just two wins and a draw in their opening seven games.

It's not been the start Gray had been dreaming of when he took the job at Solitude, and he's been vocal in his criticism of his team over the first few matches.

Despite assembling one of the most dangerous strike forces in recent Irish League history - consisting of Joe Gormley, Jay Donnelly and Rory Donnelly - the Reds have struggled to convert their chances.

The hosts took an early lead through Andy Mitchell and, after doubling their advantage courtesy of Andy Hall, Marc Griffin made it 3-0 ahead of Gormley bagging a late consolation.

But former Warrenpoint man Gray said he refuses to give up on the task at hand despite his tough start in the hotseat.

When asked would he walk away, Gray was straight in his answer: "No, but if the board decide I'm not the man for it then that's different.

"Bottom line of it is seven games in, zero performances, very little points. Is it good enough for Cliftonville? No. Have I a magic wand to change it? No."

After another performance where Cliftonville struggled to impose themselves on the game, only testing Johnny Tuffey on one occasion besides Gormley's goal, Gray admitted he was feeling the pressure.

Not that he didn't feel any coming into the role. As Gibson Cup winners as recent as 2014, the expectation from the Solitude faithful is for trophies, and Gray is painfully aware of that.

"The job has become bigger because results and performances haven't even been average, never mind anything else," Gray acknowledged.

"The supporters are pressured, I'm pressured, the board's pressured, everyone's under pressure because of that, and the players are under pressure, whether they feel that or not or want to do anything about it is a big question."

And, despite the disappointing start, Gray is urging the fans to stick with him.

"We've miles to go, and everyone can see that. I'm not making any excuses, it is what it is," he admitted. "People talk about patience, it's not about patience.

"I'll do my best to make it better for next week, and people don't see the work that does go on to try and get us where we need to be, and unfortunately they'll just have to trust me."

Glenavon: Tuffey, Marshall, Kelly, Doyle, Singleton, Hall, Clingan, Sykes, Daniels (Foley, 88 mins), Burns (Griffin, 54 mins), Mitchell (Jenkins, 78 mins). Unused subs: Marron, McGrory.

Cliftonville: Long, Cosgrove, McGovern, Breen, A Donnelly, Bagnall, Curran, R Donnelly (Lavery, 80 mins), Hughes, Gormley, J Donnelly. Unused subs: Neeson, Harney, M Donnelly, Caldwell.

Referee: Arnold Hunter (Maguiresbridge)

Belfast Telegraph

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