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Linfield boss Warren Feeney can be a chip off Roy Coyle block


Warren Feeney declared at  his unveiling  yesterday that he wants to put an end to Cliftonville's dominance

Warren Feeney declared at his unveiling yesterday that he wants to put an end to Cliftonville's dominance

Confident: Warren Feeney

Confident: Warren Feeney

Warren Feeney declared at his unveiling yesterday that he wants to put an end to Cliftonville's dominance

The cynics – and where Linfield are concerned there are always plenty of them – have been having a field day.

The jibes have been thrown at Warren Feeney from the very day that he was linked with the Linfield job.

He's too young, said some.

He hasn't got the managerial experience needed to take a job as big as Linfield, said others.

No track record, not the right man for the job, not the right personality for Linfield, blah blah blah.

You get the drift.

Well, as far as those who were responsible for making the decision on David Jeffrey's successor are concerned Feeney, at 33-years-old, ISN'T too young and he IS the right man.

The fact that he has no experience in management – and therefore no record of success – wasn't a factor at all.

Neither Roy Coyle or David Jeffrey came with what you would call a glowing managerial CV and they did alright, didn't they?

As far as his personality is concerned, Feeney the joker is a different man behind the closed door of the dressing room – something which his players will find out very quickly.

"I think the biggest misconception about me is that I am easy going," said Feeney.

"I go back to the people that I have learned under.

"One manager said to me that if you give a player an inch he will take a mile and it has stayed in my head.

"I wouldn't have come in for this job if I didn't know what way to go about it and I will be ruthless."

There will be a time for fun, but only when the job is finished and Feeney and his men are having the last laugh.

That means wrestling the Irish League title out of Cliftonville's hands next season.

Given the way that the Reds have played over the last two seasons, they are now threatening to dominate the local scene for a few years.

Not if Feeney has anything to do with it though.

He's a Linfield fan himself and he knows that the Windsor Park faithful don't simply expect to win trophies, they demand them.

"The biggest challenge for me is to bring success to the club," said Feeney.

"Obviously we have lost the league to Cliftonville in the last two years, but now it's a new era for this club and hopefully I will bring success on the pitch.

"That's what Linfield's identity is about and that's why I want to bring it for myself, for the club, for the board and fans.

"I want to move this club forward to the next level and win trophies, because that's what Linfield's culture is about and that's what I hope to do.

"Cliftonville have won the trophies and they are number one for a reason. They are a good side, a strong side, but I want to talk about Linfield.

"I have to focus on my job, what I want to do at this club and that's my number one aim – to concentrate on what I can do and achieve at Linfield."

Feeney is younger than Jeffrey was when he became Linfield manager in 1997, although older than Roy Coyle, who was still in his 20s when he was installed at Windsor Park in 1975.

Previous experience and a track record isn't a prerequisite at Linfield, the main thing is handling the pressure that comes with the territory.

"I get up out of bed every morning and think of life's pressure," he said.

"It's how you want to deal with it and how you do things.

"You have to do it your way and believe in what you bring.

"Having four kids running around my house is pressure as well.

"I am well prepared, I have done my research and if I didn't think I was ready for this job I wouldn't have put myself in for it. One hundred per cent I will be focused on what I need to do here."

Feeney leaves his job as player-assistant manager at Conference Premier club Salisbury City to become only the fifth man in almost 40 years to manage Linfield.

And it took him seconds to decide to apply for the job.

"I wanted it straight away. It's the job for me," said Feeney.

"It's my boyhood club and I have a family history here and I was coming to Windsor Park as a kid.

"I went across the water and people were maybe Rangers, Celtic, Manchester United or Liverpool fans, but my first love was Linfield.

"Whenever the opportunity came along it was one that I couldn't say no to.

"It's the biggest club on this island and it's the only one I'd have come back from England for.

"It's in my blood, Linfield, and I want to take this club forward.

"I want to be here forever."

Warren's family are loyal Blues servants

The Feeney name is woven into the history of Linfield Football Club.

If any fan doubts the new manager's devotion to the club, they only have to look through his family tree.

New boss Warren hasn't yet decided if he will combine playing with his managerial duties – even though that is something he has dreamed of since he was a child standing on the Windsor Park terraces.

If he does pull on the famous jersey, it will see Feeney follow in the footsteps of his grandad Jim and father Warren snr (right).

The younger member of the trio has already maintained the family tradition of playing for Northern Ireland, indeed the Feeneys are the only family to have had three generations win international caps.

Warren jnr may have won more caps and scored more goals than his dad and grandad, but he has to go some way to match their achievements at Linfield.

Jim was a right-back at Windsor Park during the war, winning league titles and an Irish Cup before leaving for Swansea, where Warren jnr would also play during his career.

Warren snr won the league in his first season at the club after making a controversial move from Glentoran in 1978.

A year later the Blues won the double, with Warren scoring 19 goals along the way.

The family connections don't end there though.

In the late 1990s, a young striker by the name of Lee Feeney burst onto the scene at Windsor Park.

A cousin of Warren jnr, the man dubbed 'The Golden child' earned a £100,000 move to Rangers, where he spent three years.

Lee returned to Linfield, but failed to spark in his second spell at the club.

Nature of new boss convinced Wylie to stay

New Linfield manager Warren Feeney has maintained a key link with the David Jeffrey era.

Alfie Wylie, who is to remain in his position as first-team coach, believes the new boss is equipped for success.

Joining them to make up a three-man coaching staff will be Andy Todd, who played Premier League football for both Blackburn Rovers and Bolton Wanderers.

The son of former England international Colin, who is still in management at the age of 65 with Danish club Randers, Andy later dropped down the leagues, where he was a team-mate of Feeney's at Oldham Athletic.

And even before they get started, Feeney has already made an impression on Wylie.

"He is honest, he's direct and he's very enthusiastic," said Wylie.

"He knows his strengths and he knows his weaknesses too and I am a great believer in that if you know your weaknesses then they don't become a threat to you.

"Warren know his biggest attributes that makes him the best and he'll get us around him to make up in other areas and be the team behind the team.

"I met him officially for the first time last Thursday when he asked me to do the role.

"It was the first time that I had sat down opposite him. I've known him for years doing his coaching badges and knew him when he was a 16-year-old going over to Leeds when I was involved in the youth set up in 1998-99 and he was always very honest and passionate about his game no matter who he played for.

"His enthusiasm when he spoke to me about what he wants to bring to the club and what he wants to do to it made me think 'I definitely want to stay on'."

Getting the right mix on the pitch is essential for Feeney if he is to bring the kind of success that the Linfield fans crave.

Putting together the right backroom team is just as important and the new boss believes he has done that.

"Andy has a great pedigree in England. He has a great mentor in his father. He has played in the Premier League, he has played in the Championship, he's a winner, he's a thinker," said Feeney.

"With Alfie's experience in the Irish League, he knows Linfield, he knows the club, the players and he works for the Irish FA and has brought an international mentality to the club."

Like Feeney, Todd will now relocate to Belfast in order to put everything into the job.

"The one thing about Andy was when I asked him he didn't hesitate in agreeing to come along.

"That's a measure of the thing, when you have someone who is ready to buy into what you want to do and I am looking forward to working with him."

Belfast Telegraph