David Healy has admitted that negotiations with Linfield over his new contract have “dragged on” adding that he will find out in due course if the Windsor Park outfit wants him to take the club forward.
Given the numerous trophies and millions of pounds from European football Healy has delivered for the Blues since his appointment in 2015, it will be a disappointment to Linfield supporters and a shock that Northern Ireland’s record goalscorer has not yet been tied down with his current deal ending next May.
Two months ago Linfield chairman Roy McGivern said the club were determined to extend Healy’s contract to reward him for his outstanding work pointing out that with other teams in England and Scotland keeping an eye on the manager’s progress it was in their best interests to sign him on a long term deal.
Talks have taken place but no agreement has been reached so far with Healy, who has won four league titles in five years, the double last season and almost took the club to the Europa League group stages in 2019.
Healy said: “It’s in the club’s hands. Yes, it’s probably dragged on a little bit. I’m the manager until told otherwise.
“I’ll continue to do what I’ve always done and get my head down and work hard and if the people at Linfield feel as if they want me to take the club forward I’m sure I will find out in due course.”
Having been knocked out of the Champions League by Lithuanian outfit Zalgiris Vilnius on Tuesday, losing 2-1 in the second leg at Windsor and 5-2 on aggregate, Healy is now preparing for next Thursday’s Europa Conference League clash at home to Bosnian side Borac Banja Luka.
He said: “I enjoy the challenge at Linfield. It has been a challenge from day one that I feel I always wanted to try and embrace.
“The challenge certainly doesn’t get easier.
“At any normal environment or workplace the longer you are there the job should get easier but it certainly doesn’t get any easier at Linfield.
“There is always a challenge around the corner and the next one for me is to try and pick the players up for next week and try and get the right formation and have a go at the opposition.”
For the last couple of years some English and Scottish sides have been monitoring Healy’s work at Windsor.
There has been surprise in some quarters that a move has not been made for him though due to the Covid-19 pandemic there have not been as many managerial vacancies in the lower leagues across the water. That could change when normality begins to return.
Linfield are keen to keep Healy and he is keen to stay. For the good of the club, which is going through a period of transition in terms of playing personnel, the sooner the situation is sorted out the better. It’s worth noting that when the Blues announced earlier this year that they were going full-time Healy was put forward as a figurehead for the operation.
Meanwhile, though unhappy to be eliminated from the Champions League at the first hurdle this season, Healy thought his side played some fine football in the 2-1 defeat on Tuesday in front of a crowd of 980 against Vilnius who ended the game with nine men.
New recruit Chris Shields scored a penalty but overall the Blues lacked a cutting edge.
Perhaps striker Billy Chadwick and wide player Ahmed Salam, on loan from Hull City, can help provide it in the Europa Conference League next week.
The paperwork for both didn’t come through in time to feature earlier this week but they should be cleared for Linfield’s next outing in continental competition. “Both lads were unfortunate to miss out in the second leg but hopefully the Irish FA and English FA get the paperwork done which I would imagine will be concluded soon and that both lads will be available for next week,” said Healy.
“What are they going to give us? Hopefully a little bit of freshness and energy. I’ve had a good conversation with (Hull manager) Grant McCann about them and hopefully they will bring quality too.
“The TMS system when you are bringing someone in from outside your own FA can be a challenge. I know the English FA have been busy over the past number of days. Our paperwork was prepared and ready to go since Friday but we didn’t get the clearance we wanted before the deadline which was on Monday night.”
On being knocked out of the Champions League, the Killyleagh native stated: “It is disappointing to go out. I have to take the positives out of the tie and also remember the match at Windsor was our second game of the season.
“We played some really good football. Maybe we lacked a little bit in the final third but that will come.”
Linfield will face Stoke City in a behind closed doors training game at the QUB, Dub complex at 1pm on Saturday.