Belfast Telegraph

Linfield won't need firing up after last year's woe, insists Healy


Special feeling: Linfield manager David Healy roars with delight after beating Glentoran at The Oval in October
Special feeling: Linfield manager David Healy roars with delight after beating Glentoran at The Oval in October

By Alex Mills

Linfield boss David Healy insists there will be no team talk required for today's Big Two showdown with rivals Glentoran at Windsor Park.

Although the teams are separated by a whopping 20 points in the Danske Bank Premiership table, form usually takes a back seat when the Belfast giants collide.

Although the Blues have won both encounters this season - a 1-0 league win and a Shield success that went to extra-time - it was the Glentoran fans who enjoyed the bragging rights in the corresponding fixture 12 months ago when Robbie McDaid's last-minute strike gave the east Belfast boys a rare Boxing Day victory.

With the Blues losing ground on high-flying Ballymena United at the weekend after being held to a scoreless draw by Gary Hamilton's Glenavon, Healy believes his team can give the fans a belated Christmas gift in the form of three points.

"It's still the biggest game in the local calendar," said the former Northern Ireland striker.

"I love it and I always have done.

"Last year left a bitter, sour taste in my mouth. It was the first Boxing Day game that I lost as a manager.

"To see the Glentoran fans celebrate the way they did showed what it meant to them.

"They stayed behind and rocked our bus on the way out of the ground, bearing in mind they were a long way off a league challenging position at the time.

"It's a derby match and it meant a lot to them.

"We held the upper hand in these derby fixtures for a long time, so hopefully we can get back to that starting this Boxing Day.

"I've already spoken to the players.

"I'll not need a team talk. I'll not need to super-charge everyone up in training.

"I shouldn't need to super-charge anyone. If they are not ready and don't understand what a derby match means - the Boxing Day match in particular - then they might as well pack it in."

Healy is also aware of the pitfalls of a Belfast derby.

Even though the Glens are languishing back in eighth place in the table, he is expecting another blood and thunder 90 minutes at Windsor Park.

"Derby games can work in mysterious ways," he added.

"Both teams will have a big crowd behind them.

"The old saying is that we must play with fire in our belly and ice in our veins in these games. That's what it's going to take. I would imagine it will be another blood and thunder 90 minutes.

"But it's important we get the ball down and do what we are good at."

Although Ronnie McFall's (right, with Healy) boys haven't played since drawing 3-3 with Institute at the Brandywell, Healy will be taking nothing for granted, even though the Glens will be missing Ross Redman, Calum Birney, John McGuigan and Joe Crowe because of suspension.

"To be honest, I thought having our last two games (at Newry and Ballymena) postponed would have helped us," said Healy.

"I'd been doing a bit of whinging about the run of fixtures we had coming up over the month.

"Having not played since the Dungannon cup tie, it probably took a little bit of the sting out of us against Glenavon on Saturday. If anything, we looked a bit leggy.

"I don't know whether it will help or hinder Glentoran. But it's nothing to do with us, we have to look after ourselves and put in the performance we need to get three points."

With the transfer window about to open, Healy insists he will not be trading just for the sake of it.

"It's alright wanting and hoping and wishing," he went on. "But if there is nothing out there that can come in and complement or improve on what we already have, we'll not be interested.

"I'll just not be making signings for the sake of it. Come the end of January if we don't have anyone in, I'll not be too concerned.

"We still have players out missing at the minute. Lorcan Forde, Ryan McGivern and Mark Haughey haven't kicked a ball for this club as yet.

"If we get to January with a fully fit squad and we don't sign anyone new, I'll still be more than happy.

"I'll certainly not go down a route to sign someone just because the other clubs are doing business. We have plenty of good players at this club.

"If we get those boys back, it will be like three new players for us."

Linfield v Glentoran

Danske Bank Premiership

Windsor Park, Today, 3.00pm

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