Belfast Telegraph

'Settle down': Linfield legend Lee Doherty tells 'sack David Healy' critics to get real

Lee Doherty says David Healy (inset) should not be under immediate job pressure at Linfield.
Lee Doherty says David Healy (inset) should not be under immediate job pressure at Linfield.

By Graham Luney

David Healy's position as Linfield manager should not be questioned despite the embarrassing Irish Cup loss to Queen's University, according to Blues legend Lee Doherty.

Former Linfield and Glenavon captain Doherty, who won the title eight times with the Blues, understands the fans' frustration, but he believes anyone calling for the manager to be sacked needs a reality check.

Although the shock 2-1 fifth-round defeat at The Dub last Saturday will haunt the players and management for a long time, the champions remain on course to retain the Gibson Cup and will go clear at the top of the Danske Bank Premiership if they win their game in hand over leaders Cliftonville.

Both title chasers meet in a tasty Solitude showdown on Monday and Healy will expect a response from his men after their pride was shattered by Championship side Queen's.

Criticism is never far away when you're a Linfield manager, and Healy will understand the fans' anger, but there are now no distractions as his men go all guns blazing for the league championship.

There have even been suggestions that Healy is under pressure to hold onto his job but Doherty says that talk is well wide of the mark.

"I've heard these rumours David Healy is under pressure," said the former Northern Ireland international. "Why should he be? He won the league championship as well as the League Cup last season.

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"You need to look at that record and understand where he has taken Linfield. When he came in as manager, the Blues were not in a good place, they weren't winning trophies.

"If they win their game in hand, they go top, and if that's not someone being successful, I don't know what is. We just get a bit hysterical sometimes and people can say things on social media, but they are one game away from being top of the league so there's your answer."

Doherty added: “I wouldn’t think he’s under pressure and he shouldn’t be for the job he has done. I think they need to settle down, realise shocks happen and go for the league title.”

Healy is stepping up his search for fresh faces this month and Doherty feels the Windsor Park men need to find a lethal target man.

“David is putting his stamp on the team but for me he is just lacking that Martin McGaughey-type player who will get 30 goals a year,” added Doherty, who spent four years as assistant manager to Glenn Ferguson at Ballymena United.

“I know Andy (Waterworth) is still there and doing his best, but you need new, exciting talent to come through. The young lad Shayne Lavery started very well but he’s still very young. I feel they need a prolific goalscorer and I don’t think Shayne is that. He’s great going forward, has plenty of energy, but I still feel they need a regular goalscorer.”

While Queen’s are looking forward to a sixth-round clash with Glentoran, the Blues must regroup and go again — but shaking off the memory of the loss will be impossible.

“I was surprised but shocks do happen in cup competitions,” added Doherty. “You can look back to before when I played when Carrick beat Linfield in the final of the Irish Cup.

“I’m still in contact with a lot of the guys who played in the 1980s teams but I can’t remember a big shock like this one.

“It happens in cup competitions and I think Linfield have been a bit jaded recently.

“It will focus their minds on the league title. The Irish Cup is the big cup competition, a blue riband event, and it’s disappointing to go out, but they can now concentrate on their title defence.”

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