Belfast Telegraph

Glens must start aiming high again, insists legend McKeag

New era: Mick McDermott has big plans for Glentoran
New era: Mick McDermott has big plans for Glentoran

By Alex Mills

Glentoran legend Billy McKeag believes the club can rise from the ashes after new manager Mick McDermott was handed the task of rebuilding the east Belfast giants.

McDermott (45) replaced Gary Smyth in The Oval hotseat on Sunday, pledging to make the once-proud club a force in Irish League football again.

He has an impressive pedigree having spent much of his playing career in America before taking up coaching positions at some of Asia's biggest clubs.

McDermott also worked alongside former Manchester United assistant Carlos Queiroz in Iran and current Brazil boss Tite.

Glentoran are expected to announce a major investment package within the next few weeks, with a wealthy Iranian businessman promising a cash injection.

McKeag won every local honour in a 15-year spell at The Oval and was part of the famous Detroit Cougars squad that embarked on a successful eight-week tour of America in 1967.

"The club have struggled for quite a few years both on and off the pitch," said McKeag. "The financial problems have been well documented. Any new investment obviously needs to be sanctioned by the shareholders.

"The Glentoran board haven't covered themselves in glory in past years in terms of the way they have handled things.

"In fairness, the directors have addressed a lot of major debt and have now whittled it down. Let's face it, the club need major investment - the ground hasn't changed since my playing days.

"The new manager has been very forthright in his plans for the future, talking about going full-time. Glentoran haven't managed to finish in the top six for a few years and that's not good enough.

"The team just haven't been good enough. I watch them quite a bit. One of the problems that stands out for me is the discipline. The team have had something like 12 red cards so far this season, which isn't good enough.

"If the new takeover goes ahead, I'm sure changes will not happen overnight. It will take some time to rebuild the club, even if someone comes in with an immediate pot of gold.

"There are some good kids at The Oval, so it's important they also get a chance.

"There have been too many managers that have come and gone. The club require an overhaul and stability, so hopefully this is the time to do it.

"I was at The Oval for a game along with Billy Sinclair (another former Detroit Cougar). This lad approached Billy to inform him he played one game for Cliftonville against Ballymena United when he was in charge.

"He asked his name - it was Mick (McDermott). We spotted him talking with a few directors, so that's when early negotiations must have taken place."

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