Belfast Telegraph

'The biggest club in Ireland': Mick McDermott outlines grand designs but issues warning to Glentoran fans

New manager Mick McDermott has plans to make Glentoran a full-time club.
New manager Mick McDermott has plans to make Glentoran a full-time club.
Gareth Hanna

By Gareth Hanna

If I told you that Mick McDermott channelled his inner Miley Cyrus in his first in-depth interview as Glentoran manager, well that could mean one of many things.

While some might suggest The Oval is in need of a wrecking-ball, it was another Miley buzzword that was the big takeaway as McDermott outlined his vision for the future at the famous east Belfast club: climb.

McDermott, you see, is adamant that it is going to be an uphill battle to fulfil his and the incoming investor's ambitions, and that's because the bar is being set high.

The former Iran assistant manager has visions of the Glens taking their, in his view, rightful place as the island of Ireland's premier side.

Currently enduring their third successive season outside the Danske Bank Premiership's top six, it's safe to say that's a long way away.

Mick knows that, and that why he's keen to stress the hard-working aspect of his new keyword for the future of the club, even if and when the investment is welcomed in by shareholders.

"If (the investment arrives), it's not going to be a case of silly money being thrown around," he told Glentoran TV. "It's going to be run as a business and we'll try and climb Glentoran out of its current position.

"I use that word 'climb' because I've seen people say 'Glentoran is going to rise again'. The word 'rise' gives the impression that it's just going to happen. No, we're going to have to climb.

"It could take months or it could take a few seasons but if we want to get out of this decade of up and down to challenging for the title, getting into Europe, winning in Europe and moving towards full-time then we have to start climbing right now."

The 'full-time' aspect of the vision has already been well-publicised but, fitting with McDermott's phased development plan, it won't be a sudden shift.

"We can't jump from two nights to five days in a medium term but we can move to three days and four days so that's the idea," he said.

"The long-term plan as part of (the investment) is to move Glentoran towards a full-time football club with a full-time training squad, full-time staff, full-time support staff and build this club into what it could and should be; the biggest club in Ireland."

It's a grand vision alright, one sufficiently enticing to keep McDermott away from a trip to Copa America working under Colombia manager Carlos Queiroz for a third time.

"I was thinking about moving home anyway after the World Cup," said McDermott, who was part of Queiroz's coaching team as their Iran side secured a win and a draw during the group stage in Russia. "I moved my family home in July and I then had a chance to go back for the Asian Cup in Dubai. I worked with Iran for the Asian Cup and that finished in February, when I came home.

"I had the chance to go to Colombia but my family was going to be here and I was going to be away for maybe 10 weeks at a time - I've been doing that for a long time. When I thought about it and the chance to take a club from its current position to where I believe it should be, to where the fans think it should be, was a great opportunity.

"That was the tipping point for me. One fan did say to me that I gave up the chance to coach Falcao and James Rodriquez for (Glentoran's) players. When you're here and you're working with them, those are your Falcaos and James Rodriquez. You've got to look at it that way.

"It's every coach's dream to come to a club of this size."

McDermott has worked with a total of 14 managers since moving to America in 1992 on a scholarship.

"The one that had the most impact on me was Carlos," he said. "He's not just a coach or a manager, it's everything with him. He can coach, manage, his player relations are excellent, dealing with the board excellent, dealing with the media excellent. In terms of coaching, he has studied and is knowledgable about nutrition, conditioning, technical - as a whole package clearly he has had the biggest impact on me. I'd say he's a genius to be honest."

And now McDermott is going from working with a former Real Madrid manager to the Irish League. Having been away from Northern Ireland for the guts of three decades, what does the 45-year-old make of his new surroundings?

"I've always had this impression of the Irish League; that the game that you see on the pitch doesn't do justice to the level of player that you have," he said, noting as an aside that his brother-in-law is former Linfield and Glenavon striker George O'Boyle.

"I always thought that the football could be a little bit better. Some games are fantastic with good football played.

"What the games give you here is you've got the enthusiasm, intensity, some games have good quality, the fight; you've got the working part. Do I think some of the football could be better? Yes, absolutely. But I think that the quality of player that's here can work towards that.

"Maybe the surfaces aren't great, the pressure of winning is there, maybe the tactics of certain managers - I don't know what the answer is. I've always had this impression that the Irish League could and should be a little bit better in terms of a quality of football being played.

"My first impressions after watching games in the last month or so is that I still have that feeling."

With his impressive CV, McDermott's arrival in the Irish League is one that will cause a great degree of intrigue as he aims to bring improvements to his club and to the Premiership as a whole. But Glentoran fans should remember to be prepared - it's the climb.

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