Belfast Telegraph

Glentoran caught in a storm but legends are hoping for swift revival

Danske Bank Premiership

By Graham Luney

Glentoran legends Colin Nixon, Johnny Jamison and Jim 'Bimbo' Weatherup have pleaded with Oval chiefs to make the right call and appoint a manager that will awaken the sleeping east Belfast giants.

The Glens are on the lookout for a new boss after parting company with Alan Kernaghan and former skipper Nixon is understood to be one of the candidates being considered for the position.

Glentoran's board have a massive call to make as the club cannot afford to decline to a point where they will continue to struggle to qualify for European football as well as challenge for major trophies.

Irish Cup wins in 2013 and 2015 sparked golden memories but league showings have been poor with the club currently ninth in the Danske Bank Premiership table going into tonight's clash at home to Irish Cup winners Glenavon (7.45pm).

While Nixon would be a popular arrival at The Oval given his passion for the club and understanding of the heritage and traditions, other names linked with the post include Rangers legend Ian Durrant along with the club's big name summer signing Nacho Novo, former Carrick boss Gary Haveron, ex-Northern Ireland international Steve Lomas and former Crusaders player-manager Aaron Callaghan.

Nixon, Glentoran's top appearance maker after donning the famous jersey 794 times, said: "Glentoran are a massive club that should be winning trophies.

"They have fallen off the radar a bit and it's very important they get back to where they belong.

"It's a club that is dear to my heart, it's been a massive part of my life and I've been there through good and bad times.

"The supporters deserve success and hopefully the new manager can get the club moving in the right direction."

Nixon, who had a spell as Academy Director with Ards, has his A Licence but would also be keen to secure a Pro Licence.

The former defender is currently coaching the H&W Welders Under-20 side and the management game would appeal to him if the offer was right.

"The Glens are such a big club that it's sad to see them struggle at the moment," added Nixon, who netted 87 goals for the side.

"But nothing would please me more than to see the Glens firing again."

Jamison, who made 412 appearances in the green, red and black, helping the club land several trophies including the Irish League title twice and Irish Cup once in the 1970s, is concerned at the limited number of managerial options available.

"The club are in an unfortunate situation and nobody likes to see that," said the 70-year-old, who earned one Northern Ireland cap.

"The concern I would have is that there is no standout candidate to come in as a manager and rebuild the team.

"Tommy Breslin turned the opportunity down and there aren't any obvious names which come to mind, while the club have also suffered in the transfer market with players turning down Glentoran and Linfield as well to sign for other clubs such as Crusaders and Glenavon.

"In the old days the traditional Big Two would have their pick of the best players, but times have changed and the Glens now face a fight every season to secure European football and the money it brings.

"The battles we had against the likes of Ajax and Juventus were special and it's a real shame Irish League sides cannot experience that today.

"We used to be able to beat sides like the Icelandic teams, but now football is progressing elsewhere and it's tough for Irish League sides to win in Europe.

"In the early 1970s we reached the quarter-finals of the old Cup Winners Cup, the only British side to reach that stage, before losing to Borussia Monchengladbach, but what an achievement that was.

"Glentoran teams are also expected to challenge for trophies every season and when it's not happening the fans will be frustrated.

"Hopefully a new manager can come in and rebuild the team but that will take time and involve new players coming in.

"The club cannot afford to drift along while other sides progress.

"I've always believed that the Irish League needs a strong Glentoran and Linfield.

"It's a difficult time in the club's history, but they can spark into life again if they get this appointment right."

Jamison's former team-mate Weatherup, one of the famous 1967 Detroit Cougars, also hopes the Glens can rediscover their mojo.

"You always have some optimism at the start of the season, but now we find ourselves in a difficult position," said 'Bimbo', who made 363 Glentoran appearances and is an honorary life member.

"I think the fans just want us to be a threat when it comes to winning titles but the team have been struggling.

"Hopefully the club can appoint the right manager, someone who has a lot of enthusiasm and hunger and will be his own man - someone who has the experience of 'been there, done it' would be nice.

"I had many great times with the Glens, including the big European games against Benfica, Arsenal and the Borussia Monchengladbach clash.

"We had crowds of up to 30,000 at The Oval, with the fans standing all the way up the hill, and though these are very different times, I'd love to see us challenge the top teams again.

"It's going to be a long road back to the top as teams like Crusaders and Glenavon are very strong, but the Crues have shown it can be done with the right leadership.

"The problem is a new manager won't be able to freshen the squad up until January."

'Bimbo' added: "We would all love to see the new stadium emerge as well because that has been talked about for a long time.

"The club are confident funds will be provided to help them build a new stadium where The Oval is and hopefully that will be a bright new dawn."

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