David Jeffrey last night sent out an ‘I told you so’ message on the eve of the Carling Premiership’s biggest game of the season so far.
As the top two prepare to go head-to-head at Windsor Park, the Linfield boss has hit out at pre-season predictions that his team would simply stroll to the league title.
And with the second placed Blues ready to welcome table topping Portadown tomorrow, Jeffrey insists that the Shamrock Park men are simply showing the kind of form that he expected of them.
“The wise and the good, at the start of the season, said we’d run away with the league,” said Jeffrey.
“I made it very, very clear at the time that would not be the case.
“Not only was it disrespectful to other clubs to suggest that we’d win the league without facing any real competition, the ability that exists within the other teams around the league — and there is plenty of it — wasn’t taken into account.”
Linfield already know what Portadown are capable of, with Ronnie McFall’s men coming out 2-0 winners when they met last month.
Since then the Ports have matched the Blues stride for stride, until they took advantage of Linfield’s inactivity last weekend to move a point clear at the top at just the right time.
Even fans of other clubs will be keeping an eye on events at Windsor Park tomorrow. It’s set up to be an exciting game, but the destiny of the crown is a long way from being decided.
“We’re not even at the end of October, so whatever the outcome of the game it’s not going to have a critical impact in the long term. It’s much too early for that,” said Jeffrey.
“That’s not to play down the game in any way.
“It’s not ‘just another game’ because there is no such thing.
“We’ve seen so far this season and over the last few seasons that all the teams in the league are capable of taking points off each other.”
The Gibson Cup currently resides in Linfield trophy cabinet — where it’s sat more often than not over the last 10 years.
The Portadown players would be welcome to take a look at it tomorrow. If they want to get their hands on the silverware they’ll have to do a lot more than turn up.
“I am very proud of our league and I believe that the product is much, much better than those know knock it give it credit for,” said Jeffrey.
“The stronger competition is not a surprise to me. I’m getting sick of telling people that I said at the start of the season that Portadown had been underachieving and that I expected them to be right up there.
“There was a lot of talk that during the summer Ronnie McFall was only able to bring in Jamie Tomelty, but people quickly forgot about how well he’d recruited in January.”