Belfast Telegraph

My commitment to Linfield is unquestioned, insists Healy after unfounded Grimsby link

By Steven Beacom

Linfield manager David Healy has outlined his desire and determination to achieve more success at the club and hit out at suggestions that he was considering jumping ship.

In a frank interview with the Belfast Telegraph, Northern Ireland's greatest ever goalscorer has opened up about his side's 'disappointing' season, his understanding of the frustration felt by the fans and his positive relationship with the board.

In Healy's first full season in charge at Windsor Park, he led the Blues to a treble, winning the Irish League title, Irish Cup and County Antrim Shield.

It was a stunning effort from the Linfield manager and his players as they surged to trophy after trophy after trophy with a magnificent run of form.

Pipping Crusaders to the championship was the highlight for the club, who had not finished top of the table since 2012.

For Healy, a lifelong Linfield fan appointed as boss in late 2015, it was a dream scenario, but this term has brought the Blues back down with a bump.

Knocked out of the League Cup and County Antrim Shield early on, they have watched Crusaders and Coleraine pull away in the race to claim the Danske Bank Premiership.

Healy insists there is still much to play for with the Irish Cup and European football up for grabs, but does not hide his pain when speaking about his team's title defence.

The ex-Manchester United, Leeds and Rangers striker is intent on bringing more silverware to Windsor.

That's why he was so shocked and angered by a weekend report on Radio Ulster's Saturday Sportsound show suggesting he had applied to manage struggling English League Two outfit Grimsby Town. Later the programme admitted their error, stating that after Healy had clarified there was nothing in the Grimsby link, they did so too.

Healy was not amused.

"I was bitterly disappointed when I heard about the story. I also felt it was embarrassing, not on my behalf but for those who put it out because there was absolutely nothing to it," said the 38-year-old from Killyleagh.

"I couldn't believe it when I started getting calls and messages about it.

"My commitment to Linfield is unquestioned. When I was appointed manager in 2015 it was an extremely proud moment for me because I grew up supporting the club and always followed the team during my time as a player in England and Scotland.

"I was totally committed to the task then and I am totally committed to the task now.

"In fact, I would say my commitment to make Linfield succeed is stronger than ever because since becoming manager I now appreciate even more what the club means to so many people.

"In my job I look at every aspect so that I can help the club from Academy level to Linfield Swifts, as well as doing my job with the first team.

"I go to as many Linfield matches as I can at every level in a bid to support the teams we have and look at ways we can improve every one in order for us to be stronger now and in the future."

Asked about this season, with the Blues in fourth and 18 points behind league leaders Crusaders, Healy said: "It has been hugely disappointing. Sometimes clubs can get away with an average season but not Linfield.

"The attitude at our club is that first is first and anything below that is a disappointment.

"There are different factors behind it, such as the Paul Smyth sale to QPR meaning we lost a high-quality player who was very important to us.

"We have also had injuries at different times to key men like Jamie Mulgrew, Andy Waterworth and Roy Carroll.

"These are not excuses. They are facts which have not helped us. Going out of two cup competitions early on knocked our confidence, but even so we know our results should have been better.

"Crusaders have remained very strong, Coleraine have improved greatly over the past year and Glenavon have also improved. Do we need to improve? Yes we do, and I'm committed to helping us do just that.

"I know of the demands at Linfield. I'm very demanding of myself and the players. There are standards at this football club and I'm aware when results don't go our way questions are asked by our fans. I understand their frustrations because I feel them myself.

"I want all Linfield fans to know that everyone at the club is working hard to make our team successful. We still have the Irish Cup and European football to fight for this season and need their support."

On his relationship with the board, Healy said: "The Linfield committee have been very good with me. They have put no pressure on me and they know how much determination I have to deliver for them and our supporters. They want the same as me, success for our football club and I'll work 24/7 to achieve that."

Belfast Telegraph

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