Tommy Breslin has talked down talk of a crisis enveloping Solitude following Cliftonville’s festive malaise.
The Reds have gone four games without a win as their Danske Bank Premiership title defence has suddenly swerved into a mire.
Defeats to Glentoran and Crusaders were followed by successive 1-1 draws with Ballinamallard United and Dungannon Swifts.
The poor run has left the champions trailing seven points adrift of leaders Crusaders with 13 games remaining.
Breslin is hoping his players can rediscover their form when they take a step away from the rigours of the title race tomorrow.
Amateur League minnows Ards Rangers are the opponents in an Irish Cup fifth round tie at Solitude – a hurdle the Reds will be expected to clear with ease.
January is destined to be a massive month for the North Belfast giants, with two cup finals lurking on the horizon including next week’s County Antrim Shield and the Wasp Solutions League Cup (January 24).
“I keep hearing people talking about ‘crisis’ and ‘where did it all go wrong?’. We are fourth in the league and in two cup finals,” Breslin said. “That’s not a bad position to be in.
“Obviously the recent run of results has been disappointing, but every team is going to have a blip during the season, and maybe this is ours.
“If we can come out of it and string some results together, then I am confident we will start climbing the table.
“It wasn’t that long ago that Crusaders were four or five points off the lead, and now they are top.
“Things can change so quickly, so there is certainly no chance of the club panicking.”
Breslin hopes victory over Ards Rangers tomorrow can be the catalyst behind a New Year revival.
But he is refusing to take the Amateur League side lightly ahead of the clash at Solitude.
“Ards Rangers are a good side, and they are having a decent season,” he added.
“I also noticed from the stats that they don’t concede many goals, so we know it will be difficult.
“They are probably thinking this is a good time to play Cliftonville, while we are looking at it as a chance to get a win on the board.
“So it should be an entertaining game, but one we are confident of winning and getting our name in the hat.
“I have every faith in the players, and for a lot of them this is a steep learning curve for them. Players like Jay Donnelly, Jude Winchester, Johnny Flynn, Tomas Cosgrove, this is their first proper season in the first team.
“We have also had injuries to key personnel, so we have to just dig in and keep working hard.”