David Jeffrey prepares to bring curtain down on imperious reign at Linfield

Outgoing Linfield manager David Jeffrey
Outgoing Linfield manager David Jeffrey

With nothing but pride at stake, the spotlight will fall on David Jeffrey’s final game in charge of Linfield when he takes his team to Mourneview Park on Saturday to face Glenavon.

After 17 years of unprecedented success, the big man takes his final bow as the curtain comes down on another Premiership season.

With 31 trophies racked up, Jeffrey is certainly going to be a tough act to follow.

His swansong will focus on making sure his team leave Mid-Ulster with three points, even though all the celebrations and title winning frolics will be taking place in North Belfast when Cliftonville receive the Gibson Cup.

“We brought in so many players this season, it was always going to take them a bit of time to gel,” said Jeffrey.

“In the current process, second place in the league is a creditable performance.

“I’m leaving the club in a much better position than we were in last year when we were some 30 points off the pace at the end of the season.

“One of the things the boys must learn is to perform consistently well, especially in big games.

“We didn’t do that against Glentoran in midweek. They were depleted because of injury and suspension. Because of that, part of my fear was that my boys had simply to out onto the pitch to win the game. Suddenly, they found themselves in a tight contest. And, they couldn’t turn it back again.

“This is the greatest club to be at when things are going well. You are taken care of with all the professional trimmings – all the things that pleases your ego as a footballer.

“But the import important thing is that you have got to perform on the pitch.

“When you step over the white line, there is no hiding place. We talked about bravery. But bravery is in your own ability and a belief in that you can play at that level.

“Frankly, we just didn’t perform against Glentoran. We had a disappointing result in the previous game against Portadown and I reckon they just couldn’t cope with the position we were in.

“I certainly wanted to go out on a high, but it just didn’t happen.

“As a Blueman, or sportsman, I hate being beaten at anything. The over-riding emotion was the fact that my players, in front of a good crowd, didn’t do themselves justice. I told them, they didn’t let me down, they let themselves down.”

Jeffrey admits he’ll have a lump in his throat when he walks off the pitch for the final time. His association with Linfield as a player and manager spans almost 30 years.

He adds: “I finish Saturday and I understand a new boss takes charge on Monday and I wish him every success. There is a good platform for a new manager.

“I’ve had 17 years as boss – most of it has been outstanding.

“I thought it would last about three years, but for it to last 17, is an absolute dream.

“I’ve had some fantastic memories – the Setanta Cup win in 2005, the six league and cup double triumphs in seven years – it was unbelievable. I’ve also met some great people.

“But it is the right time.”