Belfast Telegraph

Windsor chiefs must give my old team-mate time says ex-Northern Ireland international Michael Hughes

By Graham Luney

Michael Hughes has backed his old Northern Ireland team-mate David Healy to taste success as Linfield manager - provided he gets the right support and is given time to deliver.

Hughes understands the importance of possessing Irish League knowledge from his time as Carrick Rangers boss and he feels Northern Ireland's record goalscorer is going to need some expert advice in his new role.

Healy has replaced his former international strike partner Warren Feeney as Linfield supremo in a deal that was first announced on the Belfast Telegraph website yesterday.

It is the 36-year-old's first managerial appointment since retiring in 2013 - and it failed to kick off with a victory after the Blues crashed to a 1-0 defeat to Ballinamallard United in the League Cup at Windsor Park last night with the new man taking over on the bench midway through the second-half.

Hughes, who won 71 Northern Ireland caps from 1991 to 2004, feels it's an exciting challenge for the former Rangers frontman.

"Linfield is a big job to take on whoever you are," said the former Manchester City and Wimbledon ace. "I learned from my time with Carrick Rangers in local football's top flight that local knowledge really does help you do your job efficiently and David is going to need that or work with the right people around him who have that knowledge.

"It probably took Warren (Feeney) a bit of time to gain that knowledge of players and the set-up and for that reason I hope David is given time to do a good job.

"It's going to be learning curve for him as it's his first job in management and Linfield are a massive club with a big budget and big expectations. I think he will do very well if given time and the right support."

Like Feeney, Healy was a boyhood Linfield supporter and Hughes expects his old comrade to be hungry to win over any doubters.

"A Linfield manager is always under the spotlight and pressure comes with every managers' job but I'm sure he will be aware of that and up for the challenge," added Hughes who is now cheering on Carrick after their return to the Danske Bank Premiership.

"I'm sure he will speak to the relevant people like Warren (Feeney) and David Jeffrey who will offer him advice. He will have thought long and hard about taking on this job - not overnight. It's an exciting opportunity at a big club and a great start to his managerial career.

"Your playing career is relatively short and David's achievements with Northern Ireland are special but now he won't have the support of the whole nation as a manager's allegiance is to one club and you have to put up with that but David is a smart boy and he'll do that.

"David obviously takes great enjoyment from the coaching work he does. I haven't seen him coaching but the feedback I get on him is very positive. A number of former Northern Ireland internationals have decided to manage in the Irish League like myself, Warren Feeney and the late Alan McDonald while Mal Donaghy is back coaching at Cliftonville. There is an opportunity for coaches to do well in the Irish League and then other opportunities can arise."

Northern Ireland and Wales must overcome the odds again at Euro 2016 after Uefa confirmed they would be among the bottom seeds in France next summer.

Northern Ireland won Group F with 21 points but have the lowest Uefa co-efficient of any team still involved and, like Wales, will be pulled from Pot Four.

Belfast Telegraph


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