Darren Murphy will do a 'great job' as Linfield coach, says Dungannon boss McAree
The Danske Bank Premiership season may be over but Linfield still managed to record a significant victory at the expense of their Big Two rivals yesterday.
Former Dungannon Swifts boss Darren Murphy, who had been in the running to land the Glentoran manager's job, agreed to return to Windsor Park as a coach.
The 43-year-old, an IFA Elite Performance Coach, was a popular defender during a four-year spell with Linfield and this move marks his return to the Danske Bank Premiership for the first time since he quit as Swifts boss in 2015.
"I know Darren well and he's an experienced coach who knows the league well and he will bring considerable enthusiasm to his new role," said Linfield boss David Healy.
"He's very familiar with this club, having played here during his playing career, so he should settle into his new role quickly and easily.
"He did an excellent job at Dungannon Swifts during his time there and I know he learned a lot from that experience and I'm sure he will be a most welcome addition to our coaching and backroom staff.
"He's looking forward to getting started in his new role and he's a popular person who I know our supporters will welcome back to the club where he gave total commitment during his playing career."
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Healy made a move to recruit former Portadown, Glenavon, Dungannon and Ballymena player Murphy after it became apparent that long-serving coach Alfie Wylie was no longer part of his plans for the club.
Wylie, who was closing in on 14 years of service at the Blues, was shown the door in a big call by the Northern Ireland legend.
Glenavon coach and former Linfield defender Kris Lindsay was also linked with a return to Windsor Park but the Lurgan Blues retained his services.
Swifts supremo Rodney McAree, who worked with Murphy at Stangmore Park, tipped his former managerial partner to be a big hit at Linfield.
"I'm looking forward to seeing him on the touchline again next season and, while it's disappointing to see Alfie (Wylie) leave the club, I'm sure Darren can do a great job for Linfield," said McAree.
"He won a lot of trophies at the Blues and will know what it takes to win. He's an experienced coach and I'm sure he's buzzing to be involved again at such a big club in the Premiership.
"It's a great opportunity for Darren and he was obviously looking to get back into coaching as this is an exciting role for him.
"Darren is one of the more respected and highly thought of characters in the Irish League and Linfield have given him the chance to return to the Premiership in a coaching capacity. It will be exciting for him to be part of the dressing room again and, being the winner he is, although he's not the manager I'm sure he will still take defeat badly."
Murphy's Windsor reunion will be welcomed by the fans but Healy is well aware he needs to greatly strengthen his squad or the Blues risk falling further behind Premiership sides including champions Crusaders, who finished 24 points ahead of Linfield.
The Blues finished fourth last season and failed to qualify for European football for the first time in 15 years.
The 43-year-old's move to Linfield further limits the managerial options for Glentoran as they keep searching for a successor to Gary Haveron.
The former Linfield defender held talks with the Glens board but no deal was done, and the Blues convinced him to return to Windsor Park.
Since Haveron was removed from his position in February the hunt for a manager has proved to be a difficult process. Murphy was understood to be a leading contender along with former Rangers player Bob Malcolm.
Legendary Irish League figure Ronnie McFall returned on an interim basis but he insisted he would not be prolonging his stay into next season.
Along with assistant Kieran Harding, he guided the team into the Europa League play-off final against Cliftonville at Solitude, which they lost 3-2.
During McFall's time in charge, the Glens approached Dungannon Swifts boss McAree and Ards supremo Colin Nixon.
McAree opted to remain with the League Cup winners, while Nixon also remained in his post - both signing new deals.
Malcolm would appear to still be in the running for The Oval job, but former Glentoran favourite Gary Smyth, who is currently H&W Welders boss, and ex-Sierra Leone and Rwanda boss Johnny McKinstry may come into the equation.