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If Smyth and Leeman can't fix Glentoran then nobody can, says former striker

 

By Graham Luney

Harland and Wolff Welders assistant boss and former Glentoran favourite David Rainey believes his pals Gary Smyth and Paul Leeman can help revive the east Belfast club's fortunes.

The 42-year-old, who played with both men at Crusaders as well as Leeman at the Glens, says the dynamic duo can awaken the Danske Bank Premiership's sleeping giant.

Legendary boss Ronnie McFall will continue as Glentoran manager with Kieran Harding and Smyth named as assistants, while Leeman has been given a coaching role.

Smyth and Leeman will begin an A Licence course next month as they cannot perform managerial roles until they gain the qualification.

It's an exciting new set-up which has got the supporters dreaming again after a turbulent period which saw the club tumble out of the top six.

There will certainly be no quick fix at the club but Rainey, who won a league title and Irish Cup with the Glens, says if Smyth and Leeman cannot inject some spirit and pride into the players, no-one can.

"I think Glentoran have made the right move because you have Leeper and Smicker, two guys who know what it means to play for a team of Glentoran's stature, and perhaps a few of their players need to start realising that," said Rainey who also netted two Gold Cups and two County Antrim Shields with the Glens.

"If those boys can't get that message across to the players then I don't believe anyone can.

"We all know Leeper is a huge Glenman, as is Gary, and both will lay down the law. I think it's crucial that the players start playing for the club again and don't just drift along.

"It's a club that needs to challenge for trophies, and not finishing in the top six is an absolute disgrace.

"The Big Two have fallen off the pace and, while it's nice to see other clubs do well, it's a shame the Glens and Blues have struggled.

"I played with both Smicker and Leeper at Crusaders and with Paul at the Glens. Paul is like myself in that in matches or training he has that winning mentality and he will give it everything.

"They are two great football men and, while Gary is leaving the Welders with a bit of a heavy heart, all the lads wish him all the best. You want those clubs back to their best.

"What Glentoran need is stability, and first and foremost they need to get back into the top six and progress from there."

Rainey credits Smyth for keeping his career alive after it was time to move on from Glenavon and he has huge respect for his former boss.

"It's a big club and a tough challenge for any manager but Gary obviously feels he's ready to give it a crack," he added.

"Gary brought me to the Welders four years ago when my time at Glenavon came to an end and it's probably the best move I have made in my career because I've been enjoying regular football with a great group of players.

"Smicker is a fantastic person and manager. The boys love him, a few have felt his wrath but he's a superb man manager.

"There's a great rapport in the dressing room and when there's a sing-a-long Gary is joining in.

"It's a close-knit family at the Welders, a fantastic dressing room, but Gary has decided to move onto a bigger and better challenge.

"Glentoran's financial situation will mean they can't throw money around. The boss will need to find the right type of player with that winning mentality.

"There are good players in the Championship who could challenge themselves at a higher level.

"It didn't work out for Michael McLellan at Linfield but he's moved onto Ards where he can do well.

"It's all about being hungry for success and pushing yourself. Smicker can strike that right balance of getting a hungry player at the right price."

One of Smyth's last decisions as Welders chief was to hand a new one-year deal to Rainey but the striker has just been appointed assistant boss with Norman Kelly taking charge.

"I've still got the appetite for the game and that's what you need - if you don't have that, it's time to quit, but I'm still hungry to win matches and enjoying my football," he added.

Belfast Telegraph

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