Belfast Telegraph

Baxter’s critics have got it wrong, insists title rival Healy


David Healy
David Healy

By Graham Luney

Linfield manager David Healy says Stephen Baxter's critics are wide of the mark ahead of the title showdown at Windsor Park this afternoon.

The Crusaders manager has come under fire while the team has struggled to put together a run of victories.

And if the champions win today, the north Belfast side will be six points behind the Blues, who have played two games fewer.

Northern Ireland's record goalscorer Healy knows all about fans' expectations but he believes Baxter, who has steered the Crues to three league championships, deserves applause, not criticism.

"Somehow Stephen was coming under a little bit of pressure (earlier this season)," said Healy, whose side has netted four straight Danske Bank Premiership victories.

"I don't know why given the job he has done there.

"Stephen Baxter is a winner. He has done so much for Crusaders and he has turned the club around.

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"To qualify for European football consistently and win leagues and countless other trophies and bring a whole host of good experiences to the club, he should be commended not questioned. He is a man to be feared."

A defiant Baxter stated: "If you handed me a top-four position coming into this time of the year, I would have broken your arm for it - we're delighted with where we are."

In another big clash, it's second versus fourth as Coleraine travel to face Cliftonville.

The Bannsiders travel to Solitude with just one victory in their last five league matches.

The busy festive period, which includes Thursday's Boxing Day fixtures, is an opportunity for the top sides to deliver a big title statement.

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph