Paul Leeman last night insisted that he and his fellow Glentoran players don’t have to prove anything to anyone when they go into today’s Irish Cup battle with Linfield — other than themselves.
And the Oval captain admitted that the blame for the team failing to produce the kind of entertaining football that Glenmen demand should rest as much on the shoulders of himself and his team-mates as departed manager Alan McDonald.
McDonald resigned after last Saturday’s defeat at the hands of Dungannon Swifts after suffering more heavy criticism from disgruntled supporters.
Even the opportunity to finish the season as double cup winners — with the Glens already in the final of the Co-operative Insurance Cup and the semi-finals of the Irish Cup the prize for the winners of today’s clash at the Oval — wasn’t enough of a lure for McDonald to stay on in the job.
And even the league title is still within reach if a winning run can be put together.
Scott Young is now in charge and if the little Glaswegian — who was a hugely talented midfielder in his playing days — can work some magic and finish the season with a trophy treble, then the Glens will have made a statement, even if they don’t have to.
“We don’t have a point to prove,” said Leeman.
“There is no doubting the quality in the squad, but we have underachieved this season.
“The only thing we have to prove is to ourselves to show again that we are a good team and one that can beat the best around.
“Alan McDonald decided to step down and we respect his decision. Scott Young has come in and one thing about him is that he’s very passionate and loves Glentoran. Hopefully he can filter that through to the players.
“He was a great footballer and already he has been working on the style of football that he wants us to play.
“Alan McDonald always preached to us to get the ball down and play, but for confidence reasons or because of the pressure we were under we weren’t able to do that enough and got criticised for it.”
McDonald raised doubts about the hunger and desire of his players. There was a feeling that having won the league title last season there wasn’t enough drive coming from within to retain the crown.
This, however, is something that Leeman denies as he aims for goals he has yet to achieve in his career.
“There is no lack of hunger, certainly not on my part,” he said.
“I have never won back-to-back league titles and I haven’t won the double either. Those are two things that I would still like to do.
“We’re judged on results, the results weren’t what we’d have liked and that’s why the manager has gone, but we have to move on now, look forward and make sure the results are better between now and the end of the season.
“We are still very much in with a chance of winning two cup competitions and there is no way we’ll be giving up on the league. Scott won’t allow that to happen and we’re all behind him and the management team that he has brought in.
“Linfield are in a good position, but there are enough games left and enough points to play for that we can still catch them and we still have to play them once more as well.”
Leeman got his hands on the Irish Cup yesterday when he and Linfield rival Peter Thompson visited his old school, Ashfield Boys on the Holywood Road.
It’s as close to the trophy as Leeman has got since 2004 when he won the last of his four medals in the competition — the first coming in 1998 as a 20-year-old.
“We haven’t won the Irish Cup since 2004 and for us that is a long time, considering that we won it five times in nine seasons until then.
“It’s been a while and although we’ve been back in the final since it’s too long really and everyone at the club wants to win it again.”