Belfast Telegraph

Glentoran players must focus on European goal, says Allen as club may hand Smyth new role in shake-up

 

Gary Smyth
Gary Smyth
Surprised: Curtis Allen

By Graham Luney

Gary Smyth's last game as Glentoran manager will be tomorrow's Danske Bank Premiership clash with Cliftonville at Solitude but the club may find another position for him as part of its new management structure.

The Glens are looking into the possibility of giving Smyth another role at the club but he will step down as boss.

Smyth this week told the Belfast Telegraph that the club informed him he won't be manager of the team after the weekend.

The 49-year-old is working towards his A Licence but does not possess the Pro Licence qualification required to take charge in European competitions.

With seventh placed Glentoran having until Sunday to apply for a licence to play in Europe next season, and talk of significant fresh investment coming to the club, Oval chiefs could be set to announce their new management structure in the next few days.

Glens striker Curtis Allen says the team will be disappointed if Smyth leaves the club but he added the players have a responsibility to keep doing their jobs.

Allen admitted it's not an "ideal situation" as they fight to earn a Europa League play-off spot.

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"I'm sure the players will be upset if Smicker (Smyth) leaves," said Allen. "Gary and Leeper (Paul Leeman) have brought a fresh atmosphere to the squad and they will be disappointed to leave but these matters are out of the players' hands.

"We have experienced players in the squad who have come through difficult times so we need to stay focused on our jobs. Saturday is a big game and as players we can only dictate what happens on the pitch.

"It's not an ideal situation but we can also understand what the club is trying to do."

The much talked about takeover by a rich businessman, which promises millions being invested in the club, looks set to go ahead with one of the casualties being Smyth, who took charge when Ronnie McFall left in January.

When contacted by this newspaper and asked if he was set to leave, Smyth stated: "I haven't had any lengthy discussions with anyone (at the club) but did have a quick call to say I couldn't manage after March 31 and that was that.

"When Ronnie left and I was asked to take over in January, I was very proud to do so because Glentoran has always been my club, but I didn't feel it was going to be on a temporary basis."

The Oval futures of Smyth, his assistant Paul Leeman and coach Kieran Harding are now uncertain.

There are also suggestions that Belfast native Mick McDermott, a key figure in the takeover deal, could form part of a new management team. He starts his Pro Licence coaching course with the IFA in the summer and as such qualifies to manage in Europe.

Striker Allen added: "It's clear the club needs investment in terms of the stadium and squad.

"I'm sure the players are surprised. There have been rumours about possible investment but I don't believe anyone expected to hear this week that Saturday could be Smicker's last game in charge.

"It's a strange development happening at this stage of the season.

"Hopefully we can get more clarity about what is happening and finish the season on a high by qualifying for Europe."

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