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Pressure lifts as Ballymena United back David Jeffrey with new deal

 

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David Jeffrey

David Jeffrey

�INPHO/Brian Little

David Jeffrey

Supposedly under pressure David Jeffrey has agreed to prolong his stay at Ballymena United in a timely lift for the Sky Blues fans.

There has been no official confirmation from the club yet, but Showgrounds sources say the former Linfield boss has agreed a three-year deal. In June 2018, Jeffrey signed a two-year contract extension taking him up to the end of the 2020-21 season and it's clear he still has the appetite to bring more success to the Braid.

The new deal is also a mark of the respect United chiefs have in both Jeffrey and his assistant Bryan McLaughlin as they aim to keep the club on the right road, despite unrest among some fans over the club's league position, third from bottom when football stalled. Earlier this month, Jeffrey marked four years in charge and he was hoping to finish the season with a bang by steering United to Irish Cup glory.

The Sky Blues were scheduled to face Coleraine in the semi-final last night at The Oval. While it's been a difficult campaign for the Braidmen, there is no doubt the United board still have faith in the 57-year-old who guided the club to their first runners-up finish in the league in 39 years last season.

Jeffrey, the most successful manager currently working in the domestic game, doesn't need to show his CV to anyone and he has retained a special relationship with his players.

Their 2019-20 campaign, however, was badly disrupted by injury.

But the Balymena players have also accepted they have underperformed.

Watching the County Antrim Shield being cruelly snatched from their grasp by Cliftonville seemed to sum up their fortune this season.

While there will always be a few fans keen to express their frustration at the club’s form, Jeffrey and McLaughlin are keeping the faith.

As recently as a few weeks ago, Jeffrey indicated he was willing to stay on as boss for as long as the club hierarchy wanted him at the helm.

“I’m privileged and humbled to be manager of Ballymena United and Bryan McLaughlin and I will only be here as such times people don’t want us here,” he said.

“My mindset at the moment is that I am here to serve the club and I am here for as long as the club wants me. That’s the long and short of it.”

While the coronavirus has placed football firmly in perspective, it’s also true that within the game itself perspective is easily lost.

United lifted their first ever League Cup under Jeffrey in 2017 and ran Linfield close for the league title last season, securing a first runners-up finish since 1980.

The Sky Blues also progressed in Europe for the first time last summer, pocketing the club an estimated £400,000. They have also reached four other finals under the guidance of Jeffrey and McLaughlin.

And no one should need reminding that Jeffrey guided Linfield to a remarkable 31 trophies during his 17-year tenure as manager.

Jeffrey clearly believes United are sleeping giants worth fighting for and the new deal underlines his desire to battle on.

Belfast Telegraph