Culture shift key to Glentoran's drastic improvement, says Mick McDermott
Glentoran manager Mick McDermott has revealed that changing the culture at the club and giving the players belief has moved the Oval outfit ahead of schedule this season.
'Time to climb' is the east Belfast outfit's motto. After so many difficult years on and off the pitch, supporters would have been content with steady progress but under McDermott, assistant Paul Millar and the ownership of Ali Pour, the Glens are flying up the mountain.
If they go on and win the title, or even qualify for Europe, it would feel like they had scaled Everest in record breaking time!
Fourth in the table, three points off the top and unbeaten in the League since the start of October, McDermott's side are on a roll.
Quizzed on why the Glens have gone from also rans to serious challengers, McDermott says: "We have tried to upgrade the environment. There are things we have had to do to create a better culture around the place.
"As opposed to the Tuesday and Thursday brigade coming in to training and getting out as soon as possible, we've tried to create a place where players want to be. We structure the week to try and get the best out of the players and they have been outstanding."
McDermott and Millar have used their vast array of contacts to recruit superbly.
Please log in or register with belfasttelegraph.co.uk for free access to this article.
The Glens boss is, however, quick to point out that, like the new signings, players who have been around for years have also been influential.
"We have tried to bring in quality players, upgrade the quality of the training and make the players believe they are professionals and that has had an impact on the performances," says McDermott.
"That's not just the new players, that's players who were already here like Willie Garrett and Calum Birney.
"Maybe that comes from us training more now than previously.
"Probably where the club is in terms of the off the field stuff is where we expected it to be. There is still to work to be done.
"On the pitch, we are slightly ahead of where we thought we would be going into a new year. When you get results, as we have, it can speed things up in terms of belief that the players have.
"Again, that's the new players and the players who were here and had suffered in the past and maybe thought they weren't good enough."
One experienced player who has inspired is captain Marcus Kane.
Last month, the Glens skipper and his partner Aimee suffered heartbreak when their baby son Harrie died.
"I'm sure Marcus has nights and days when things are dark but we are here to support him as much as we can," adds the Glentoran manager.
"Since we came here, I've seen Marcus do a lot of things for the club off the field and in the community, which says a lot about him as a person.
"As a player I feel he has improved a great deal since the start of the season. Defensively and going forward, he has got better.
"He has settled into the environment really well and I've seen him taking control of games from left back. He is a massive player for us and I don't think I would swap him for anyone in the League."