Belfast Telegraph

Irish League has a superb storyline thanks to Linfield

Huge challenge: David Healy must transform Linfield’s fortunes
Huge challenge: David Healy must transform Linfield’s fortunes

By Graham Luney and Stuart McKinley

David Healy's appointment as Linfield manager has got every Irish League supporter talking and the reaction ranges from genuine excitement to escalating fear.

There's the possibility of a swift return to the glory days while the glass half empty brigade are predicting an unfolding disaster.

No-one can be certain which direction this soap opera plot will travel in but we can all agree it will be fun watching.

Roy Coyle, the Irish League's most successful manager alongside former Blues boss David Jeffrey with 31 trophies, says it will be intriguing to discover whether Healy, the respected player can become Healy, the respected manager.

"It's David's first managerial job but everyone has to start somewhere and you can never know how things are going to go," said Coyle who was in the Windsor hotseat from November, 1975 to April, 1990 - a trophy-laden 14 and a half year spell.

"Everybody needs time and it's unfair to expect instant success as you have to allow for trial and error.

"I'm sure some of the players will be reinvigorated under David but things don't change overnight and we are always reminded of Sir Alex Ferguson's struggles in his early years at Manchester United.

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"We are into October and the season is well under way so he needs to assess the squad and determine how they operate from here.

"He needs to put his own stamp of authority on the position. Warren Feeney has moved on so he's part of the history of the club but it's David's reign now and he will be judged on results - not on his playing career.

"Linfield Football Club is about major success and it's how his teams are playing that will dictate his future at the club.

"The one thing David will have already got from his players is respect after his goalscoring exploits for Northern Ireland.

"He's played at the highest level in England and for his country so he has a wealth of knowledge gained over time, now he must familiarise himself with the changing room, the players, the facilities, the training, team selection and tactics. The bottom line of course is that success is demanded at the Big Two, Linfield and Glentoran."

Eric Bowyer, who succeeded Coyle as Linfield manager in 1990 and won the Ulster Cup in 1992, said: "Because of who he is I would expect that David Healy will get a reasonably long honeymoon period at Linfield.

"Like any manager though, if he doesn't get results the pressure will be on.

"At Linfield you can't be second best and he will have to get past Cliftonville and Crusaders - which won't be easy, but he will get time."

Trevor Anderson won back-to-back league titles in 1993 and 1994 after taking over from Bowyer.

He said: "I think David Healy is a very good appointment for Linfield. He supported the club, so he will know what he's in for and it's up to him what he makes of it.

"It's a great job when you are winning, but a very lonely place when you are losing - but that doesn't take away from how great a club Linfield is."

Billy Sinclair, who managed the Blues in the mid-1970s, said: "Managing Linfield is easy - you just have to win every game.

"I had a period where we went a lot of games undefeated, but lost 3-2 to Glentoran in the Irish Cup final. We did win three trophies along the way, but that didn't keep me in a job for long. As long as the team is winning David will be okay."

Belfast Telegraph


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