Linfield legend Noel Bailie says he expects to see more ambition from Glentoran next season.
Mick McDermott’s men did qualify for European football again but a poor start in the Danske Bank Premiership left them playing catch-up and in the end they finished in third position, seven points behind champions Linfield and two adrift of runners-up Coleraine.
With the financial backing of owner Ali Pour and the implementation of a full-time regime, the east Belfast giants appear well placed to challenge for a first league title since 2009.
Rome wasn’t built in a day and McDermott has spoken about a project which is on course, but former Blues skipper Bailie expects his old enemy to change their mindset this year.
“I was surprised to hear noises coming out at Glentoran saying it wasn’t their ambition to win the league title last season,” said Bailie, who won a bumper 10 titles with Linfield.
“I think once you pull on that Glentoran jersey, like at Linfield, your priority is to win the league.
“They were maybe trying to downplay things but they were signing smashing players and I couldn’t understand why they weren’t targeting the title as their No.1 ambition.
“It will have to be that way next season. They are a full-time squad with talented players and that has to be their goal.”
Bailie, whose career spanned 1,013 games, is always keeping an eye on his former club’s progress and he was blown away by their sublime display in the Irish Cup final win over Larne.
Boss David Healy steered the team to a league and cup double, leaving the club determined to hand him a new long-term deal.
“If he would love to manage Northern Ireland some day he may want to manage at another club in England or Scotland, I don’t know,” said Bailie, who was awarded an MBE for services to football in the 2013 Queen’s Birthday Honours List.
“Linfield will reward him with a new contract but he may wish to broaden his horizons some day. Another former Linfield manager, Warren Feeney, has done a brilliant job in Bulgaria, but David has been involved in the new full-time plans and the club will want him to build on their success.
“He loves Linfield and knows perfectly well some of the fans who adored him playing for Northern Ireland would take a different view of him as Blues boss. He took that on board, it didn’t bother him and he’s been as brave as a lion.”
In the Women’s Premiership tonight, Sion Swifts Ladies will take on Derry City Women at Melvin Sports Complex, Strabane (7.45pm).