Belfast Telegraph

Title challenge hasn't been mentioned in Glentoran changing room, insists manager of the month McDermott

 

Form rewarded: Glentoran boss Mick McDermott has been named NIFWA’s Manager of the Month for November
Form rewarded: Glentoran boss Mick McDermott has been named NIFWA’s Manager of the Month for November

By Steven Beacom

Glentoran boss Mick McDermott is enjoying the feelgood factor surrounding the club right now but has warned it can quickly disappear if results go awry.

McDermott is determined that the Glens maintain their excellent recent form and knows big tests lie ahead this month, starting tomorrow at Coleraine.

The east Belfast club's players will go to the Showgrounds in confident mood having collected 19 league points out of a possible 21.

Goals are coming from all over the pitch and McDermott's canny tactics were crucial in the team's best win of the campaign to date last weekend - a 2-0 success at Cliftonville.

McDermott has been rewarded for his efforts with the Northern Ireland Football Writers' Association Manager of the Month award for November.

The victory over the Reds was Glentoran's first this term against a title contender and lifted them to within five points of the top of the table - with a game in hand over three of the four teams above them.

Supporters will also have noticed they are just three points behind fierce rivals Linfield, though the Blues have a match to spare.

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The interest for Glens followers in the Big Two Boxing Day game at the Oval is becoming more intense by the day.

McDermott acknowledges this is a big month for his blossoming side with mouthwatering contests against Coleraine, Crusaders and the champions on the horizon.

He is also aware his own side are being talked about as title contenders, which was not thought possible at the start of the season.

"It's nice to hear that people think we could be title contenders but we haven't mentioned it amongst the players or the staff," said McDermott.

"It's not on the radar at the moment but if we get through this month picking up points and others drop points and we are still close come January then it will be interesting.

"We always said we wanted to stay attached to that top group. Linfield will strengthen in January because they have the money to do it. Cliftonville will have a go at it, Crusaders always strengthen and Coleraine will too."

Glentoran snapped up Ciaran O'Connor this week following his departure from Warrenpoint. Some in the game have questioned if the playmaker is what the Glens need to push on but what is in no doubt is O'Connor's ability. Cavalier and unpredictable footballers like him have been cherished at the Oval in the past.

Amid controversy and consternation from the Glentoran faithful, McDermott took over from club legend Gary Smyth last season. Along with assistant boss Paul Millar, he was a key figure in the multi-million pound takeover which has poured much needed investment into the club with new signings having positive impacts.

On the transformation, McDermott says: "From where we have been in the past and where we are now it's great but goodwill can disappear in three weeks if you don't get results."

It's a fair point though, with Marcus Kane, Conor Pepper and Robbie McDaid around the dressing room, he has demanding characters which will be key moving forward.

On facing Coleraine, who reached the Bet McLean League Cup final with a 3-0 win at Linfield in midweek, McDermott said: "It's a massive game. What they've done this season is outstanding. It shows the belief they have when they have beaten Linfield three times this season.

"They are up there for a reason. They score goals and don't concede a lot. They've had a lot of penalties this season, which we hope does not continue on Saturday.

"We are going to have to be on top of our game. We have Crusaders after that and Linfield on Boxing Day so it shows what a massive month it is going to be for everyone. We are moving in the right direction and want that to continue."

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