Cliftonville captain George McMullan ready to ‘go again’ following Tommy Breslin resignation

George McMullan and Tommy Breslin lift the League Cup last season
George McMullan and Tommy Breslin lift the League Cup last season

George McMullan admits Cliftonville have to regroup and prepare to “go again” following the shock resignation of Tommy Breslin.

Breslin stepped down on Tuesday night following four-and-a-half glorious years at Solitude.

The 54-year-old guided the Reds to eight trophies during that spell, including back-to-back titles in 2013 and ‘14.

It was the most successful era in the north Belfast club’s history.

The pressure of juggling commitments in his professional, personal and football life contributed to Breslin’s resignation, with the former boss admitting he was no longer able to fully commit to the role.

Club captain McMullan and chairman Gerard Lawlor both tried to convince Breslin to remain at the helm, but now the club is preparing to embark on a new era.

Gerard Lyttle – who was part of Breslin’s backroom team – has been appointed interim boss, with Mal Donaghy drafted in as assistant.

And McMullan admits the focus has now turned to Saturday’s visit of Glentoran to Solitude.

“We just have to regroup now and get ready to go again,” he said.

“We have a big game against Glentoran on Saturday so there is no time to pause and reflect.

“Everything with Tommy happened so quickly. I had an idea that he was considering his future after last week’s defeat to Ballymena.

“I tried talking to him, and the chairman obviously spoke with him. We tried to talk Tommy out of quitting.

“I was texting him to reassure him that the players were right behind him. We were ready to fight for Tommy and we didn’t want him to resign. But his mind was made up and now Skin (Lyttle) is in charge.

“Skin is the ideal person to come into the role as he knows the club and the players so well. He has also gone along the same route as Tommy. He is a fan, a former player and was on the backroom team.

“Now he has the chance to step up and we are looking forward to working with him. There was a buzz at training on Tuesday night, despite everything that happened.

“I don’t think Skin will be radically different to Tommy. He will have his own ideas, but I can’t see any major changes.

“Hopefully we can get back to winning ways and that Skin can go on a wee winning streak.”

McMullan admits time will tell who will take up the reins on a permament basis, but he says Breslin’s successor will have big boots to fill at Solitude.

“How do you follow Tommy?,” McMullan added.

“It is a big job to come in and succeed the most successful manager the club has ever had. But it is a great opportunity.

“There are a lot of targets for Skin and the team. We want to win the title again, and we would love to win the Irish Cup. Also qualifying for Europe is a major target for us.

“I believe we still have a squad capable of challenging for the title. We have quality players here, all we need is to get that belief back.

“We are third in the table and only five points behind Linfield. It isn’t as if we are languishing around the bottom.

“So it is all to play for.”