David Jeffrey still looking to the future after 16 glorious years at Linfield


When you take time to dissect David Jeffrey’s tenure at Windsor Park, it’s hard to fathom how the highly-decorated Linfield boss has come in for criticism this season.

Friday marked 16 years since the former defender embarked on the biggest job of his footballing career – at the then tender age of 34.

The excessive demands of being the boss at Windsor have witnessed more than a few managerial casualties in years gone by.

There is very little room for manoeuvre as far as success is concerned among the Blues faithful.

One defeat is a concern.

Two and the alarm bells are sounding.

Three and you are in a fully-fledged crisis.

But that’s life at Linfield, as Jeffrey would testify himself.

It has been a rollercoaster ride of emotive highs – and some depressing lows – for the 50-year-old.

But after claiming 30 trophies – including nine Irish League titles, seven Irish Cups and an all-Ireland Setanta Sports Cup – Jeffrey’s name has already been carved in Linfield Football Club’s folklore.

It can sit proudly in the pantheon of the club’s great managers.

But while such praise and adulation may sound like a eulogy to a former legend, Jeffrey is far from finished at Windsor.

The fire still burns brightly as far as silverware ambition is concerned, with Tuesday’s rousing victory over Cliftonville once again stoking the embers of Linfield’s ailing title defence in 2012/13.

The Blues sit 10 points adrift of the Reds following a stuttering first third to the season – a run that saw question marks raised over Jeffrey.

But in the face of adversity, Jeffrey is relishing another test of character – both for his team and himself.

“Every season is an acid test at Linfield. There is pressure on every game at this club. Fans demand success,” he said.

“But I relish the challenge. There have been times this season when I have been as low as I could possibly get.

“At the end of the day the club comes first, and I do everything I do to make Linfield successful.

“I just want to serve this club and the supporters.

“I never imagined I would be here so long. I feel blessed to have been manager of Linfield for 16 years, especially on a part-time basis.

“But I have a team around me who have worked hard. I have some great people here.”

Jeffrey admits he faces one of his biggest challenges to retain the Gibson Cup this season.

“We had a difficult start to the season and now we are playing catch-up,” he said.

“We will fight and battle, fight and battle. But it is a tough ask.

“We will have to go on the most incredible winning run, and Cliftonville will need the most incredible losing streak, if we are to pull it back.

“We have Coleraine next which is another massive test. They are a good side.”