Belfast Telegraph

Sunday Life

Liam Beckett: Ballymena fans have got to stay united behind David Jeffrey

David Jeffrey
David Jeffrey

By Liam Beckett

Roy Keane once told me that what he considered to be a proper football supporter was someone who continued to support their side through the bad times and that it's actually when your team are struggling that they need your support more than ever - and he's 100% correct.

That's why I was somewhat taken aback this week when I learned Ballymena United manager David Jeffrey and his team had to run the gauntlet and the wrath of some United fans, some of whom I gather would even welcome a change of gaffer - which I found to be just about the most ludicrous suggestion I've heard all season.

Of course it has been a disappointing campaign to date for the Sky Blues, particularly after the fantastic one they had last year, but, if we're perfectly honest, most of us know United punched well above their weight last term.

As most of us know, an impressive campaign only serves to raise expectancy levels, which immediately brings with it a pressure cooker situation for the manager, his staff and the players and sometimes, for a variety of reasons, those previous standards are nigh on impossible to emulate.

I am equally well aware that all of the other clubs also have injury and suspension problems to deal with which can seriously impact on the manager's first-choice team selection.

Nevertheless, if you lose some of your more authoritative pivotal team members, it can become really difficult to replicate last season's achievements - particularly if you are not in a position to replace like for like although, in truth, very few clubs have the luxury of that scenario.

However, I have just one short message of advice I'd like to offer those disgruntled and disappointed Ballymena supporters - admission money at the turnstiles entitles you to criticise if you so wish, but it doesn't give you the right to abuse and you should be careful what you wish for.

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Take off those rose-tinted glasses and reflect for a moment on all of those other seasons of under-achievement, doom and gloom that the club have had to endure and then perhaps you will realise that the man currently steering the ship is without doubt still the best in the business.

DJ was appointed in March 2016 and, in the following season, won the League Cup and qualified for Europe.

The year after that, they were runners-up in both the County Antrim Shield and League Cup, while last season's second-place finish was the first time United had finished in the top three for 38 years.

They also reached the League Cup Final for the third year in a row and, although their Premiership form this season has been disappointing, let's not forget the club are already in the County Antrim Shield decider - that's not a bad record by anybody's standard.

So for goodness sake would those doubters just get a grip of themselves and get things into perspective.

The progress at Warden Street over the last three years in particular has been exceptional and it's probably the envy and admiration of many.

Believe me, there will be nobody who is hurting any more at this season's League results than David Jeffrey himself so, once again, let me remind you to be careful what you wish for!

Belfast Telegraph


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