Cliftonville manager Eddie Patterson admitted question marks hang over the futures of a number of his players after a disappointing exit from the Co-operative Insurance Cup yesterday.
The Reds struggled to find any sort of sustained rhythm throughout the contest and, though they played some neat football in fits and starts, weren’t anywhere near dangerous enough in the final third and had just a solitary shot on target to show for their efforts over the course of the game.
“I've said to the boys before that there are plenty of reasons for playing poorly but no excuses for not working hard and I think that was our big downfall today,” said Patterson.
“I can't really talk about the match from a footballing point of view because we didn't contribute to it.
“There aren't many players who come out of that with credit — Stephen Garrett and Barry Holland excluded — and questions have got to be asked over futures and whether or not the desire to run through brick walls for the shirt is still there.”
The Solitude boss knows that finances will, as ever, dictate his every move in the January transfer window and he has acknowledged that players would need to leave to free up room for any new arrivals.
“My top priority is a goalscorer — but that’s the same for every manager so it’s going to be tough,” Patterson admitted.
“Our big problem recently has been a failure to take our chances.
“Not so much against Glentoran because we barely created anything but, against Glenavon, Distillery and Dungannon recently, we haven’t made the most of balls being delivered into good areas.
“If we’d had a natural goalscorer in there then, from those three games alone, he’d be into double figures by now — and that’s no exaggeration.
“We have a lot of young players on the books here but is it fair to throw them in at the deep end?”