MAGAZINE ARCHIVE : NORTHERN IRELAND FOOTBALL – SPRING 2007

Dean Shiels is the cover star of Northern Ireland Football, as he has made a comeback after having an eye removed in early 2006.

In news, Mark Clyde of Wolves and Northern Ireland has had to announce his retirement at the age of 24 due to a succession of injuries.

At Burnley, Michael Duff and Kyle Lafferty have signed new deals that will keep them at the club until 2010.

Dean Shiels gets a full page interview, having made a comeback for both club and country, looking forward to a Scottish League Cup Final for Hibs against Kilmarnock.

Alan Shearer was recently in Belfast to present awards to Glenn Ferguson, Peter Thompson and Darren Kelly on behalf of Umbro.

Darren Murphy spills the beans on his Ballymena United team-mates, revealing that Mark Picking has the worst taste in music.

David Jeffrey gets a two page profile as he celebrates ten years as manager of Linfield.

The 2007 edition of the Setanta Cup has just kicked off, and a full page feature looks at the success of the competition so far.

Grant McCann gets profiled, as he hopes to get game time in Northern Ireland’s upcoming European Championship Qualifiers against Leichtenstein and Sweden.

The recent friendly against Wales, a 0-0 draw at Windsor Park, gets a full page picture special.

Meanwhile, the Irish Cup has announced a new sponsor, JJB Sports.

Northern Ireland’s Women are also in European Qualifying action, kicking off with an away game against England in May 2007.

Cliftonville get a double page profile, having just won the County Antrim Shield.

Across Belfast, there is a feature of Peter Thompson, Michael Gault and Paul McAreavey, who are settling into life as full-time professionals based in the Irish League, as they adjust to no longer having to combine playing with a full-time job.

McAreavey was selected for an Irish League Select XI who defeated the English Conference 3-1 at Mourneview Park.

Colin Murray and Neil Lennon were recently in Belfast to present the Football For All Awards.

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2014 IN PICTURES – APRIL

April began for me at The Limelight, seeing Miles Kane in concert. Fantastic concert and a fantastic performer. Was up at the front, so managed to get some good photos.

It wasn’t until the second Saturday of the month that I went to my first football match (there was no football for me on the first Saturday due to Irish Cup Semi-Finals) at Seaview, seeing Linfield win a thrilling game 3-2.

Within ten days, Linfield’s title hopes had ended with a draw (v Portadown) and a defeat (v Glentoran) over Easter.

The game against Glentoran was Linfield’s last at Windsor Park before refurbishment, so I took the opportunity to get some final shots of the South Stand.

Linfield’s season ended with a trip to Mourneview Park, David Jeffrey’s last game in charge. End of season stuff and an easy win for Linfield, and some nice photos.

The next day, I headed to North Street to get some photos of Street Art which had just appeared in the area.

Miles Kane Live At The Limelight

Miles Kane Live At The Limelight Photo Album

Crusaders v Linfield

Linfield v Portadown

Linfield v Glentoran

Glenavon v Linfield

North Street Art April 2014

North Street Art April 2014 Photo Album

PHOTO OF THE SEASON 2013-2014

So, another football season is over, time to look back. It’s taken in four countries and various stadiums, teams and levels. There was a lot of pictures, so here are my favourites. Feel free to vote for yours :

FUGLAFJORDUR

Taken just after the final whistle of Linfield’s match with Fuglafjordur as fans applauded, the composition and framing just works for me which is why I love the photo.

SKODA

Taken before Linfield’s match with Skoda Xanthi, again, the composition and the light works for me, as supporters walk to The Kop, ready for the 90 (well, in this match, it was 120) minutes that await.

JEFFREY

Like the other two, it’s all about the composition, as David Jeffrey observes the action during a pre-season match against Derriaghy CC

RICHMOND

Taken during my trip to Dublin, I took in a St Patrick’s Athletic game. The colours just make this photo for me, as is the fact you came see a rainbow over the stadium.

CAMERAS

Taken during the Northern Ireland v Portugal match, the two cameras, focused on the action in sync does it for me, alongside the composition of the players, so small in comparison with their surroundings.

BRISBANE ROAD

I’m a sucker for arty pics of football stadiums. I took this during a trip to London, when I took in a match at Leyton Orient.

THE OVAL

Linfield fans looking on, under the floodlights, as their side has a free-kick against Glentoran at The Oval.

ROONEY

Manchester United fans looking on as Wayne Rooney prepares to take a free-kick against Olympiacos.

SEAVIEW

Linfield fans looking one at a match at Seaview. Seaview is always good for photos.

BLUE

Arty one, take of seats in the South Stand at Linfield’s last game at Windsor Park before redevelopment, which the South Stand will be one of the main areas getting redeveloped.

CLARKE

Taken on the last day of the league season, love the composition, especially of the two players, one with the ball, and one trying to win the ball back,

MUSICAL TASTES OF THE LINFIELD STARS

Have you ever wondered what music your favourite footballer listens to?

Well, if you support Linfield, today is your lucky day, unless of course, your favourite player didn’t get a profile feature in (Self-proclaimed) Ireland’s Biggest Soccer Magazine.

This season, Look At Linfield included a common feature of football programmes, a player profile asking players what their favourite thing of various subject matters are.

In the 1980s, all footballers listened to Phil Collins and watched Coronation Street, except when they went on a night out to the cinema to watch a movie starring Robert De Niro.

But football has moved on. Players no longer fight over controlling the Ghetto Blaster, the power struggles in dressing rooms at all levels are about who can plug their ipod into the Portable Speaker System.

So here, is a run down of the musical favourites of Linfield players and staff for your reference and/or pleasure :

COACHING/TECHNICAL STAFF

On the weekend of his 50th birthday in October, David Jeffrey was featured, stating that his favourite singer was Bruce “The Boss” Springsteen. Yep, The Boss is a fan of The Boss.

Given his past career, it’s a surprise that David Jeffrey didn’t list ‘The Model’ by Kraftwerk as his favourite song.

His favourite song, is ‘Born To Run’ by Bruce Springsteen. I’m not old enough to remember his playing career, so I can’t verify if he was.

Bryan McLaughlin’s favourite singer is George Michael. There have been times this season when you have needed to have Faith. McLaughlin is seen by many as a Father Figure to many young players.

He is also trusted by David Jeffrey and can be relied upon to share a secret as he will never have a Carelss Whisper.

Alfie Wylie stated that Roy Orbison is his favourite singer. When David Jeffrey issues and instruction to him, he can usually be heard to say “You Got It”

Terry Hayes has Lady Antebellum and David Bowie as his joint favourite acts. After a victory, Terry Hayes can usually be found Dancing In The Street, especially during Linfield’s Golden Years.

He does sun the limelight though, and doesn’t want Fame.

Even though he is responsible for the well being of Linfield’s players, he doesn’t feel Under Pressure.

PLAYERS

Ryan Henderson says his favourite band is Coldplay. Having spent a period on the treatment table, the rumours that he asked Terry Hayes to play ‘Fix You’ during treatment are unfounded, as he tried to get fit in order to make runs into the opposition penalty area at the Speed Of Sound.

Matthew Tipton’s favourite band is Stone Roses. After a disappointing 2012-2013 season, hopefully the 2013-2014 season will the his Second Coming as an Irish League goalscoring force.

After stating that his favourite band is The Wanted, i’d like to think Brian McCaul is kept well away from the stereo. He does say that his favourite song is ‘I Don’t Want To Miss A Thing’ by Aerosmith, which appears to be his motto when taking penalties.

Of the three teenagers featured, one of them sticks out for having a different taste.

Niall Quinn (Drake) and Ross Clarke (Sasha and Digweed) show me up for being and old fart by liking acts I have vaguely heard of but I guess are quite big wiv da kidz, while Ross Glendenning lists Snow Patrol as his favourite band.

When offered a new contract earlier in the season, Glendenning was advised to Just Say Yes.

Johnny Black’s favourite band is Matchbox Twenty and his favourite song ‘3AM’, although ‘Mad Season’ would have been more apt.

Stephen Douglas is a player who divides opinion within Linfield’s support. Some Might Say his legend will Live Forever, All Around The World. His favourite band, is Oasis and his favourite song is Wonderwall.

Ironically, at training, they were working on a routine where he received the ball from a throw-in, and he would build an attack.

David Jeffrey could be heard to shout “Today is gonna be the day that they’re gonna throw it back to you. By now you should have somehow, realised what you’ve got to do”

If you’re wondering why there are so few entries, it’s because the series ended in January. At least it lasted longer than Linfield’s title challenge.

MUSICAL FAVOURITES IN FULL

Johnny Black – Matchbox Twenty
Ross Clarke – Sasha and Digweed
Steven Douglas – Oasis
Ross Glendenning – Snow Patrol
Terry Hayes – Lady Antebellum/David Bowie
Ryan Henderson – Coldplay
David Jeffrey – Bruce Springsteen
Brian McCaul – The Wanted
Brian McLaughlin – George Michael
Niall Quinn – Drake
Matthew Tipton – Stone Roses
Alfie Wylie – Roy Orbison

TWENTY QUESTIONS

Tonight, Linfield suffered their heaviest ever Setanta Cup aggregate defeat. Thankfully, I missed the second leg. I had the misfortune to be at the first leg.

On Saturday, I had the misfortune to witness a 1-1 draw at home to the team bottom of the league. It wasn’t a smash and grab. Distillery deserved a point.

I could just about tolerate finishing second, or just coming short. We’re not even competing. Our domestic season finished in January. We can’t even, nor should we, use the excuse of a tough draw.

The tie was in our control. Twice. When we went 2-1 down at Seaview, there was an inevitability about the result. No fight, no urgency, it was a comfortable 2-1 win for Crusaders.

Now with the Setanta Cup exit, our hunt for silverware is now over this season. In March.

There is still something to play for, UEFA Cup football. That is far from guaranteed. If Glentoran win their game in hand, they are only 5 points behind us, and they play us in the run-in.

Considering the 6 points thrown away against Ballymena, Glentoran and Distillery in recent weeks, this consolation prize should have been sewn up by now.

I have 20 questions I want to be asked of manager David Jeffrey. I want them asked, and I want them answered. Comprehensively.

1. Linfield have failed to score in 12 of the last 14 European games. Does the manager believe this is good enough?

2. Linfield have won only 1 of the last 15 Setanta Cup games. Linfield have failed to win a knock out game in the competition since 2007. Does the manager believe this is good enough?

3. Linfield haven’t won a Setanta Cup game in the Republic of Ireland since 2007. Does the manager believe this is good enough?

4. Linfield haven’t won away in the Setanta Cup anywhere since 2008. Does the manager believe this is good enough?

5. Why have Linfield gone from being a Setanta Cup benchmark, not just for the Irish League, to being a soft touch in the space of five years?

6. Why have Linfield bottled it (Cliftonville away, Crusaders in the Irish Cup, Crusaders in the League Cup, Shamrock Rovers away) in big matches this season? Does the manager believe this is good enough?

7. Linfield have kept 2 clean sheets in the last 23 games, stretching back 4 months. Does the manager believe this is good enough?

8. Linfield have dropped 17 points at home this season, compared with 8 by Crusaders and 5 by Cliftonville. Does the manager believe this is good enough?

9. Linfield have now gone 6 years without winning the League Cup. Does the manager believe this is good enough?

10. Linfield have now gone 8 years without winning the County Antrim Shield. Does the manager believe this is good enough?

11. Why have we gone from 8 wins in 10 v Crusaders (2010-2012), to 1 win in 5 (including 3 defeats) against Crusaders. Does the manager believe this is good enough?

12. Linfield have gone from 3 league wins in 4 v Cliftonville last season, to 2 defeats in 3 this season. Why have we failed to stand up to the North Belfast Challenge this season?

13. Why does David Jeffrey persist with a defender approaching 40, who is actively targeted by opposition as a weakness?

14. When it was glaringly obvious that Linfield were a central defender short, why was one not signed last summer?

15. When it was obvious that a central defender was needed, why was a left back (Johnny Black) signed, when there were already four players (Niall Quinn, Aaron Burns, Nathan Hanley, Damien Curran) in the squad to play that position?

16 . Already a defender light, with Albert Watson giving three weeks notice, and Steven Douglas injured for most of the season, why was a central defender not signed during the January Transfer Window, even on a short-term/loan deal?

17. When Johnny Black was sent-off against Crusaders, why was a midfielder moved to full-back, when Jim Ervin was on the bench?

18. Why was the team set up to defend in the second-half of the Crusaders Irish Cup tie at home, only changing tactics too late, after Crusaders made it 2-2?

19. Why was there no substitutions made in the home cup tie against Crusaders, as it was clear that fresh faces were needed, as players were tiring?

20. Why is there a lack of variation at set pieces, especially corners?

LINFIELD 1-0 PORTADOWN 27.10.2012

Was at Windsor Park today and witnessed a shock result. Yes ……. Linfield won a home match.

As I entered, there was a fun day event happening for younger supporters. The Citybeat DJ booth played a George Michael song. You the one, the one that goes “You gotta have faith”

I guess you do. Talking of musical mockery, I opened the Player Profile page to see this week’s subject was David Jeffrey, as it’s his 50th birthday. His favourite singer is Bruce Springsteen, known as ‘The Boss’, and song is ‘Born to Run’

I never saw David Jeffrey play for Linfield, so I can’t comment on that one.

At least he didn’t say ‘Rock DJ’ by Robbie Williams or ‘The Model’ by Kraftwerk was his favourite song.

Talking of which, i’m toying with the idea of doing a blog about the musical tastes of Linfield players. No clear leader, though Matthew Tipton (Stone Roses) and Ryan Henderson (Coldplay) are tolerable. Brian McCaul (The Wanted) is a clear leader for worst taste.

Onto the match, and it was a match Linfield deserved to win, but made it a lot more nervous than it should have been. Having seen a red card, and a missed penalty, a Portadown equaliser just seemed inevitable, so it was a welcome relief when it didn’t come.

Linfield dominated possession in the first-half and had ‘Situations’ rather than chances. The main talking point came just before half-time when Mark McAllister and Chris Ramsey were sent-off after a clash. I only saw Ramsey striking out, but after viewing footage on Final Score, it was hard to argue.

Despite that, referee Mark Courtney still had a shocker, missing a clear penalty when Peter Thompson was pushed in the penalty area. Linfield might well have missed (like Michael Carvill when we did get a penalty late in the game) but we might have scored from the resulting corner.

A corner, is where Linfield’s goal came from. Unfortunately, I missed it, as I was making my way to my seat. Though, it wasn’t the only major incident of the game, so at least I got to see two red cards and a missed penalty. Yay!

It’s great that Linfield are now able to score from set pieces (In previous seasons, the crowd didn’t even bother getting excited when Linfield had an attacking set piece), though slightly worrying as it would be nice to see a goal in open play, instead of being so reliant on set plays.

I guess you have to take a win, even if it’s more nervous than it should be. Now moved up from 8th to 7th. You never know, win next week and we might be up to the heady heights of 6th. Small steps I guess.

Photo Album

YOOCHOOB VOLUME 3

Well, after posting up a slection of the best classic football clips and the best news coverage of historical events, this week’s Youtube round-up focuses on Irish League/Northern Ireland football related related video miscellany.

The first video is from a show called ‘Super 8 Stories’ which was broadcast on BBC Northern Ireland between 2005 and 2006.

The show is a compilation of videos filmed on Super 8 and the person who filmed it narrates the story.

One such feature was filmed by a Linfield fan during the 1960s, with unlimited access on matchday and training sessions.

Players from that era then spoke over the clips of their memories from that era, including Tommy Stewart (no relation to, and not to be confused with the current Shamrock Rovers player of the same name, who played for Linfield from 2006-2008), who sadly died soon after the show was broadcast.

It’s amazing how little the street leading up to Windsor Park has changed (For shame, I don’t actually know what it’s called)

The next clip is from ‘Sportsnight’ in 1989, a network BBC production broadcast on Wednesday nights (Like a Midweek version of Grandstand, for those who don’t know) previewing Derry City’s European Cup tie against Benfica, managed by Sven Goran Eriksson (Making his second visit to Northern Ireland as a manager, his third would prove to be memorable), who went on to reach the final that season.

Keep an eye out 2 minutes in for Felix Healy singing. I won’t spoil it, but his singing is as good as his punditry.

The next video is the greatest end to a league season in British football history, far more dramatic than Liverpool-Arsenal in 1989.

Portadown top, level on points with Glenavon and Linfield, with Portadown and Glenavon playing each other.

The ultimate winner takes all showdown, with a draw doing neither side a favour.

I was at Windsor Park that day, and it was a day i’ll never forget, the intense atmosphere, and the tension of waiting for the score from Mourneview Park.

If it happened this season, i’d have spent those agonising 6 minutes on Twitter, hitting refresh and possibly breaking my phone.

No matter how many times I watch this, I still think Portadown are going to score a last-minute winner.

With all the recent chat about Matty Burrows becoming an internet sensation, though not as sensational as the Leave Britney Alone Guy and Tron Guy, enjoy this far superior goal by Lee Feeney against Crusaders in 1998, stealing the headlines of Irish League record signing Glenn Ferguson, who made his Linfield debut that day.

Talking of spectacular goals, enjoy this compilation from a show broadcast on UTV reviewing the 94/95 Irish League season (Champions Crusaders, Cup Winners Linfield)

Prefer not to dwell too much on the Zeke Rowe in Bangor’s 5-0 win at Windsor Park. I turned down the chance to go to that match, instead going to see the Lion King, which turned out to be a good choice. Hakuna Matata.

I can vaguely remember that goal by Judas Bastard Haylock, even though I wasn’t at that match. There was a brief time in the 90s when Linfield would face Portadown as underdogs, and turn them over.

Now we face them as favourites, and turn them over.

Fucking hell, they even got Sir Stanley Matthews to choose the winner, proper footballing royalty.

The video is also notable for two things, Stephen Watson with hair, and Stephen Watson giving a shit about football.

Whatever happened to Joey Cunningham?

No Irish League Youtube compilation would be complete without this. No words are needed.

As classic Boxing Days go, 1995 takes some beating. Snow, White Ball, the stuff of legend.

The next league fixture between the two took place at Windsor Park in February. I remember this game as it was a few days after my 13th birthday, on which Take That had split up.

Linfield won the match 2-0 with two goals from Paul Millar.

Ten years exactly to the day, Paul Millar would be taking charge of his first game as Glentoran manager, and Take That would be three months into their reformation. It’s a funny old life.

One more video, a reminder of how depressing European Football has become for Irish League Clubs in recent years.

Nowadays, the likes of Dynamo Borat, Bjorksportacus and BK Morten Harket visit our shores during July, but there was once a time, when big-name and exotic opposition used to come and play our teams.

Well, Tottenham Hotspur, but it’s all relative (Talking of which, it was a game against Coleraine, in the European Cup Winners Cup)

See Also

Coleraine Specific Account

Linfield Sepcific Account 1

Linfield Specific Account 2

1997 Irish Cup Final

Glenavon v Ballymena Unied, 1992 Irish Cup Semi-Final

There’s a fucking pig on the pitch

Northern Ireland, Road to Mexico 1986 (Four parter)

England v Northern Ireland 1985

(PS: If there are any videos i’ve missed, or if you want to suggest a ‘theme’ for Yoochoob, comment on this, or via Twitter – see right hand side of homepage)

CREDIT WHERE IT’S DUE

I said it in January that if Linfield turn their season around and win the league, manager David Jeffrey will deserve praise that will come his way, and so, now that the title has been won, congratulations are in order.

Every league title win, is usually followed with a ‘but’. It’s either a ‘but’, ‘But’ or ‘BUT’, depending on how much work needs done before the start of the following season.

In December, the chances of David Jeffrey being in charge at this point, never mind celebrating the title looked bleak. It wasn’t the fact that the team was losing matches, but losing matches in an unacceptable manner.

There was a point in November/December when going a goal down meant game over. That was it, no belief, no fight, no spirit, and the calls for him to go were getting louder, but most importantly, more credible.

That’s the telling point, as the fickle nature of football fans means that there will always be people who complain and want a change of manager.

These people are usually a minority and are generally ignored by the key decision makers at the club because their case for can be easily contested.

If you suggested after leaving the Ballymena game in late December or at half-time in the re-arranged Boxing Day game, nobody could have argued against it. There was nothing, not even a slight glimmer of hope that things would improve.

In late 2003, when he was supposedly one game away from the sack against Dungannon Swifts, the players ran straight to him after going 1-0 with less than 10 minutes to go. In December or January, if we went 1-0 up woth less than 10 minutes to go, I have my doubts if the goalscorer would have ran to him.

The turning point came at The Oval in January at half-time. 1-0 down, outplayed, with Glentoran players mocking their opponents by showboating, to the delight of their fans, the game looked up for Jeffrey.

It’s bad enough to not turn up, but to not turn up in a game of that magnitude is simply unforgivable.

Sometimes, when backed into a corner, you just go for broke and take risks you wouldn’t normally take.

It was a different team, who should have won, but ended up having to settle for a point. Most satisfactorally of all, after Gary Hamilton’s equaliser, the players merely dusted themselves down, to look for a winner, which ultimately never came.

As much as I detest “moral victories”, the fact that the players kept their heads up, whereas a month earlier, they might have lost 3-2 was something to build on, just a glimmer of hope.

Why did it come to this?

Why did the season start in late-January?

After routine victories over Newry and Distillery, the next summit meeting, at home to Crusaders, proved to be a pointer that the 2010 Linfield model could just be the real deal.

It wasn’t an exhibition of total football, but it was one of the best performances of the season. It was everything that had been missing over the past 18 months – Heart, Fight, Passion.

1-0 up at half-time but down to 10 men, perhaps the 2009 could have got nervous, got tired, and dropped the points, the 2010 version took the game to Crusaders and laid down the gauntlet.

If you want an attritional warfare, we’ll stand up and be counted and beat you. If you want a football match, we’ll beat you. Either way, we’ll beat you.

This came a week after a 4-2 defeat to Coleraine. Previously in the season, a disapponting result could have triggered 3 or 4 succesive such results, it was merely a case of dusting themselves down and just getting on with it.

The following week against Portadown, it all came together. Portadown actually started well in the game and were on top for the first 10-15 minutes.

Crucially, not only did Linfield score when on top, they score a second whilst still on top. Before Portadown could get a chance to get back into the game at the start of the second-half, a third goal was scored to kill the game, with a nother two for icing.

Just when things looked set to be coming together, things come to bite you in the ass, as droped points to Glenavon and Cliftonville allowed Glentoran to go into the Easter Tuesday clash at Windsor Park 2 points behind.

After going 1-0 down early on, it could have been a case of “same old, same old” but tonight was different. No feeling sorry for themselves, just a case of getting on with it, a belief that they were better than the opposition, and that the goals to get the win would come.

Following this up with the Irish Cup Semi-Final win over Coleraine, the fear of failure and the crippling fear of not being able to come back from behind was truly put to bed.

Crucially, the squad was proving their worth. The first choice strike partnership for most of 2010 of Peter Thompson and Curtis Allen hit a barren run in front of goal.

Nobody noticed, as other players (in defence and midfield) were standing up to be counted and scoring crucial goals when it mattered, and Paul Munster hitting form in April and Mark McAllister contributing goals, really emphasising the importance of having 4 top quality strikers.

No reliance on the strikers to get the goals. They could be nullified, but a midfielder could take the game by the scruff of the neck and get the decisive goal, or even a defender coming up from the back.

Concern must be raised at the number of defeats, as winning the league with 7 defeats is an unacceptably high amount.

The future of Peter Thompson, currently on loan from Stockport County, needs to resolved one way or the other.

10 cleansheets since alan Blayney returned to the team is a foundation which should be built on. The age of our central defenders is a cause for concern though.

This summer it wouldn’t be a surprise to say farewell to Conor Hagan, Johnny Harkness and Aiden O’Kane.

Before Kris Lindsay got injured, I would have had William Murphy on this list, but he’s taken advantage of his new opportunity and has re-established himself in the team.

Paul Munster looked to be on the fringes, then suddenly scored the goal that virtually clinched the title.

Michael Gault is slowly getting back to his best form, inspired by the lurking shadow of Jamie Mulgre getting back to fitness to take his place.

That’s the importance of a squad, where players are desperate to make the most of any opportunity that comes their way.

The ever decreasing average age of the squad gives hope that success is not just now, but the future.

We are now in a position of strength, the importane thing is to stay there and avoid a repeat of the mistakes of 2008.

There’s pressure every season at Linfield, but next season is the club’s 125th anniversary. Don’t cock this one up Davy.

ANOTHER FALSE DAWN – WHERE NOW FROM HERE?

Just when you think things are going well, THUMP!!!!, there’s always something to bring you back down to earth. Alongside “Hopefully this result can kickstart our season” has been one of the two cliches of Linfield’s season.

Tonight’s defeat against Coleraine was a strange one. It’s not as if the team was outclassed, it was just one of those games where Coleraine took more of their chances and got a better bounce of the ball than Linfield.

The only two highpoints were the immediate responses to Coleraine’s second-half goals, scoring immediately on each occasion. However, both tonight’s positives were also the negatives.

Why should a team start playing at 0-3 and 1-4? Why not at 0-0?

You may think by reading previous blogs that I get a perverse thrill out of criticising Jeffrey. I don’t. I’m only saying what I see. When he gets things right, i’ll praise him, when he gets things wrong, i’ll criticise him.

Tonight, he got things wrong from the start, with his decision to have Chris Casement, rather than Damien Curran to replace the injured JP Gallagher.

There’s a significant difference between a player who can adapt to a new position, and a player who can’t.

With Damien Curran having previously served at left-back, he was the obvious choice, rather than a central defender, who doesn’t even use his left foot on a regular basis.

Serious concern must be noted as to the management of Mark McAllister. A player with ability, but sadly, no confidence.

His problem is a strange one, he thinks too much. When he gets the ball, he thinks about where to hit it and who to hit it to. By the time he makes his mind up, he’s made the wrong decision.

Look at every goal he’s scored. All insitinctive goals. Goals where you just have to stuck your body onto the ball, or just put your foot through it.

Sometimes, you just have to smack the ball, and worry about where it ends up on a later date.

Somebody should be channeling this in training. Take the ability, take the positional sense, and teach him to be an utter bastard. Like Paul Munster.

After just over a year at the club, why hasn’t this been rectified?

One problem that still hasn’t been rectified is the mope culture that has emerged this season when falling a goal behind. To allow Coleraine to score two goals in quick succession was simply criminal. It was late Groundhog Day (or night) of the Ballymena game. Go 1-0 down, mope, before you know it, 2-0 down, game over.

If the score was 0-1 at half-time, I have no doubt that if would have been turned around. 0-2, was always too much to ask.

But less of the negatives, there are still positives to be gained. Only 2 points off the top of the league with a game in hand, the best striker in the league on our books and into the last eight of the Irish Cup.

The only positive in any defeat, is that there is always another game to put it right. Football, as David Mitchell once famously quoted, will literally go on forever.

So forget about tonight, and get ready for Dungannon Swifts on Saturday.

There are two ways to react to tonight’s result. We can react like we did to the Cliftonville defeat in September and go on an unbeaten run, including convincing victories over our main rivals.

Or we can react like we did after defeat to Portadown in November, by feeling sorry for ourselves. If history was to repeat itself in this way, it will be too late to rectify the situation.

Over to you Jeffrey.

SO, WHAT NOW FOR THE SPECIAL IN HIS OWN MIND ONE?

I hate draws on derby day. It’s that numbing middling feeling. It’s not the despair of defeat, or the ecstacy of victory, nowhere in the middle. We didn’t lose, but we didn’t win.

No doubt the headline writers are feeling the same. The ‘JEFFREY SAFE’ and ‘JEFFREY A GONER’ headlines scrapped for um……?

Credit where it’s due for the second-half performance tonight, but, it should never have got to that situation.

Performances like that are a basic expectation, not a response to a backs against the wall situation.

Whatever he said at half-time, he should say it again at 2.55pm on Saturday, and every other Saturday (and a few midweeks) from now until May.

However, it doesn’t, and should not gloss over the ineptitude of the first-half perfomance. Outfought, outplayed and second to every ball. What made it worse was the fact that nobody seemed bothered about it.

A Glentoran player started ripping the piss whilst waiting to take a corner, doing fancy flicks and keepie-ups, and nobody seemed wound up about it.

The home crowed cheered and ole’d a succession of passes, and not one player felt wound up about to take the game by the scruff of the neck, just like in other recent matches, most notably against Cliftonville.

In park football, if the opposition ripped the piss like that, the opposition wouldn’t stand for that, they’d get stuck in and do something about it. The reaction from Linfield players – nothing.

Sadly, there were people hiding off the pitch as well, as David Jeffrey, was nowhere to be seen, slouched in his dugout, resigned to it all.

That’s what makes the second-half performance all the more frustrating, that it takes something like a shocking first-half display to inspire action which should be there from the start.

No doubt the inevitable quotes in the build-up to the visit of Newry will be of using The Oval game as a springboard and a stepping stone to lift the title.

It should be remembered, that we should be ready to go from the start, not stumbling along before realising the severity of the situation half-way through, very much like tonight’s performance.

I’ve already made my opinions on David Jeffrey’s position before. I think a parting of the ways is inevitable, and when it does happen i’ll be glad, because it’s the right decision.

But, i’ll also be sad about it, because it’s the right decision. There’s no doubt that history will be kind to David Jeffrey. The primary concern for Linfield is not what historians will write in 20/30/40 years time, but who will grab the trophy winning headlines in May.

Sadly, I can’t see Linfield winning the league under David Jeffrey this season. Saying that, I will be more than happy to be proved wrong in May. I don’t buy into this “Hope we lose to get rid of him” lark, so it’s a Chicken/Egg situation.

If he does, he’ll get credit from me where it’s due, just like I mentioned about how vast improvement in the second-half performance, just like when he deservedly won the manager of the month award for October.

But credit has to be earnt, and not a given on past glories.

Managers live and die by their signings. All managers make good signings and bad signings.

The trick, is to make more good singings than bad signings, and make sure the successes are more spectacular than the failures.

Sadly, the last eighteen months have been the reverse.

The second-half performance no doubt got a lot of people out of jail. There are only so many times you can get away with it.

There’s two ways the season can go. The positive aspects of tonight can be used as a springboard to rectofy and unbelievably still retrievable situation, or it can be another false dawn in a season of false dawns.

Over to you Mr Jeffrey.