Belfast Telegraph

David Healy is backing Linfield to weather the storm

By Stuart McKinley

Linfield aren't going soft. That is the conclusion that David Healy has drawn after he searched for the positives from last Saturday's defeat to Cliftonville.

And now the Blues boss wants his team to prove it to everyone else.

Healy had a pop at his players after losing to Crusaders the week before when he said: "I can't have people thinking we're soft centred. If it means making changes, I'll do it."

Although he made four changes in personnel last weekend, the transfer window system dictates that he can't make wholesale alterations to his team with January still over a month away.

Expect there to be new faces at Windsor Park in the New Year, though.

That means changing the attitude of the players that he already has - or the players taking on the responsibility to change themselves.

Whatever the finer points may be, Healy believes that something has changed - and for the better.

Although they lost 2-1 to the Reds last Saturday, the performance of his team prompted Healy to say: "I saw a lot more characters in the dressing room.

"This club demands a response after disappointing results and I got that.

"We've a couple of big games coming up, going to Glenavon and Portadown in the next couple of weeks, and I'm looking forward to them."

Even though Healy is only in the job a matter of weeks after taking over from Warren Feeney, the honeymoon period has been a short one.

The defeats to the Crues and Reds brought early criticism of Healy. Slipping from the top of the Danske Bank Premiership table to third hasn't helped.

Criticism is something he is used to, however. Even though Northern Ireland's record goalscorer netted more than twice as many goals for his country than anyone else, he still didn't escape the critics, who claimed he should have scored more than the 36 he did get.

He took the flak then and Healy is going to take it again now as boss, rather than piling it on to his players.

"I was critical of the players after losing to Crusaders, but I can't be critical of them after the Crusaders game," said Healy.

"They worked hard, we walked through little things during the week trying to get a better performance than we had against Crusaders.

"I think we got that and the crowd clapped us off the pitch because I think they appreciated it.

"I thought we were more than a match for Cliftonville."

The challenge of facing Glenavon, who are fifth in the table, will be every bit as tough as that of taking on the two north-Belfast clubs.

The only defeat they have suffered since losing to the Blues at Windsor Park in mid-September came via the only goal against Crusaders at Seaview.

Since then they have added the talent of former Republic of Ireland Under-21 international Daniel Kearns, who has already earned rave reviews for his early displays, and although 11 points separate the Lurgan Blues from leaders Crusaders, they can at least have a big say in the title race between now and April.

"Glenavon are in good form, it's always a tough place to go, it's always a battle," added Healy as he prepares to face his former Northern Ireland team-mate Gary Hamilton for the first time.

FORMER Premier League referee Jeff Winter will be the guest speaker at Jamie Mulgrew's Testimonial Dinner on Saturday, February 27.

Tickets for the event at Belfast's Ramada Hotel are priced at £45 and are available by contacting Roy McGivern on 07824 770394.

Carl Frampton's World title fight with Scott Quigg will be shown on a big screen during the evening.

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph