Belfast Telegraph

Focused David Healy is content to steer clear of the limelight

Game face: David Healy has taken a lowkey approach in the media this season
Game face: David Healy has taken a lowkey approach in the media this season

By Steven Beacom

Linfield boss David Healy has explained why he has personally taken a low key approach this season and how a winning mentality in his players has inspired the Blues to the edge of title glory.

Healy was speaking after being named the NI Football Writers' Manager of the month for February, when Linfield won the BetMcLean League Cup and claimed three victories out of three in the Danske Bank Premiership to move nine points clear at the top of the table.

Playing tonight at Glenavon, they can stretch that gap to 12 points, though come tomorrow morning, second-placed Ballymena United will have two games in hand.

Healy says: "We are in a good position but there are eight games to go so there will be no complacency.

"We have a real chance of winning the title if we keep doing everything right. We have done it right for the majority of the games we have played in the league this season and we have to keep that mentality going.

"At Newry in our last game, we played poorly and won. Last season we played well in games but lost.

"The mindset now for the players is to find a way to win games, especially away from home when it is a tight pitch, tough conditions and a team is throwing everything at you.

"We did that away to Newry and in the league match and League Cup final versus Ballymena United. We also somehow found a way when we were 2-0 down at home to Coleraine in a really hostile environment.

"We were losing, not playing well and were booed off at half-time, but the players found a way to win in the second half. That was so important."

If the players have shown character as well as class, Healy has also proved his worth. After guiding the team to the treble in his first full season in charge, the Blues won nothing last term, leading to criticism from all quarters of the manager and his team.

Northern Ireland's record goalscorer has bounced back extremely well.

"When I came into Linfield, in the first few years everyone wanted to speak to me about everything. This season, on a personal basis, I have tried to keep everything as low key as possible," says the former Manchester United and Rangers striker.

"I know the players speak to the press, which is fine, but what we don't want to be doing is give ammunition to opposition teams, staff, managers or supporters because it is hard enough being Linfield. Everyone is motivated to try and beat us and you don't want to give them extra incentive to turn you over.

"I wouldn't say that has been a big or small reason for us being top of the league because it's the players who have been immense and they deserve credit for that.

"I try not to get too high or too low any more after learning from the experiences of last season when we had a tough campaign, and also the season before when we won three trophies, including the title, and maybe we got a bit ahead of ourselves in terms of retaining it rather than just focusing on the here and now.

"Winning or losing, I try to focus on performances and getting the best out of the side."

Healy has not had to deal with too many defeats. Linfield have won their last 10 league games since Glenavon drew 0-0 at Windsor Park in December - and the Linfield boss is expecting another tough encounter against the Lurgan Blues tonight.

On his second Manager of the Month award in a row, he said: "I take great pride in picking the award up on behalf of the players who have delivered good results and performances. Managers are a front man for the team and the players have been excellent."

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