Belfast Telegraph

Irish League players are capable of playing better football, says new Glentoran boss McDermott

Glentoran boss Mick McDermott.
Glentoran boss Mick McDermott.

By Graham Luney

New Glentoran boss Mick McDermott says there's room for improvement with regard to the standard of Irish League football.

McDermott, who was assistant coach of Iran at the 2018 World Cup and this year's Asian Cup, has agreed to become the new Oval chief and succeeds Gary Smyth, who didn't have the Pro Licence qualification necessary to take charge in Europe.

The Belfast man has spent much of his career playing and managing abroad but understands the history and size of the club hungry for stability after years of financial headaches.

Investment of more than £1m could be injected into the club if the shareholders back a proposal from an Iranian entrepreneur.

The 45-year-old has brought in former Glens boss Paul Millar from Glenavon to help his vision take shape, and the long-term plan is to create a full-time environment aimed at raising standards.

McDermott recognises the Irish League product is an attractive one, but he suggests it could be much better.

"I've always had this impression of the Irish League, that the game you see on the pitch doesn't do justice to the level of player that you have," he said.

"I've 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.

"They're encouraged to play football at youth level, then they get to the Irish League and 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 the quality of football being played.

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

McDermott rejected an opportunity to go to Colombia to remain in Belfast with his family and set about reviving Glentoran's fortunes.

"An investor has been moving forward and is now in late discussions with Glentoran," he added. "One thing led to another and some of those plans were shared with me in terms of what the investor had in mind. 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, 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.

"When I weighed up the potential investment and the plans, what an opportunity. That was the tipping point. This is a great chance. One fan did say that I gave up the chance to coach Falcao and James Rodriguez for (Glentoran's) players. When you're here and you're working with them, those are your Falcaos and James Rodriguezs. You've got to look at it that way."

Glentoran's priority is to seal a Europa League place through the end-of-season play-offs.

The east Belfast side, who occupy seventh spot, visit Dungannon Swifts tomorrow.

"It's every coach's dream to come to a club of this size," added McDermott. "Coming in at this point of the season's never easy but we have to deal with it.

"The short-term is we have five games in 22 days, which is not easy even for full-time professionals. We have to deal with those as five finals. If we perform in those five matches we potentially have two more.

"Medium-term is to strengthen the squad for pre-season. Also to start to move towards a full-time training model."

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