Healy slams Linfield players as Crusaders hit historic five at Windsor
Linfield boss David Healy last night lost patience with his team and questioned their desire to retain the Danske Bank Premiership title.
The Blues were dismantled by Crusaders, whose fantastic five-star performance certainly sent out a statement of intent at Windsor Park.
There was no hiding place in front of the Sky Sports television cameras as strikes from Paul Heatley, Gavin Whyte and Philip Lowry, plus own goals by Mark Stafford and Jimmy Callacher made it a night to forget for Healy's boys, who slumped to a 5-2 defeat.
Although Stafford and Aaron Burns got them back into it, it was a game they were always chasing. The last time a visiting team hit five against Linfield at Windsor was way back in October 1994 when Bangor won 5-0.
Healy pulled no punches in his post match verdict, stating: "I was horrified. Defensively we were all over the place. We took great pride in being a team that keep clean sheets in my 18 months here.
"But we were miles off it. Some of the mistakes were basic errors. I'm now asking my players publicly, have they got the hunger, desire and passion to regain the league title?"
Healy added: "I told the players I'll take responsibility for this result but, somewhere along the line, I'm going to need a little bit back from them (the players), who we give contracts to and have firm belief in.
"They get everything off me, they get everything off the staff, they get everything off the club and the board. So now I'm asking them publicly do they really want to be successful at the football club.
"We hoped we had improved our squad from last year, but that doesn't seem to be the case at the minute.
"Yes, the players are wounded and hurting. I'm certainly hurt and disappointed, but one thing is certain - I'll keep fighting until we are successful.
"I'm desperately concerned about the run we are on and felt embarrassed with this result. We were well beaten in the end.
"The mistakes are becoming a bit of a habit, it's something we need to rectify. We were 2-0 down after 35 minutes or so, but I thought we were still shading it. But if you've no cutting edge or no desire to take the lead, you don't deserve to win games."
Crusaders boss Stephen Baxter punched the air with delight at the finish after another job well done by his troops.
"It was a brilliant game of football," he said. "You have to be happy when you win 5-2 at the home of the champions. I don't know the last time they conceded five here.
"The manner of our performance was good. We had to endure a 20 minute spell just after half time when they threw everything at us, which you would expect.
"They got a goal back, it was like a boxer coming at us with that many punches. We didn't quite know where the next one was coming from at times.
"But we weathered that storm. Thankfully our big players stood firm, putting their head on everything at the back.
"The gap in the table is still quite huge, but we'll enjoy this win - there are still a lot of big games up ahead."