Interim boss Gerard Lyttle confident Cliftonville can hit back following Tommy Breslin exit

Caretaker Cliftonville boss Gerard Lyttle (right) pictured with Tommy Breslin last month
Caretaker Cliftonville boss Gerard Lyttle (right) pictured with Tommy Breslin last month

Interim Cliftonville boss Gerard Lyttle expects the club’s players to put sentiment to one side as they prepare to kick-off a new era on Saturday.

Shockwaves are still reverberating around Solitude following the resignation of Tommy Breslin on Tuesday.

Breslin – who won eight trophies in four-and-a-half years with the Reds – called time on his tenure after admitting he could no longer fully commit to the role.

The 54-year-old – whose glittering CV included back-to-back titles in 2013 and ‘14 – stepped down citing pressures of handling professional, personal and football life.

Lyttle – who was part of Breslin’s backroom team – has been named as caretaker boss by the north Belfast club.

He will be assisted by former Northern Ireland defender Mal Donaghy.

And Lyttle insists the focus must now turn to reviving Cliftonville’s Premiership fortunes following Saturday’s 6-1 hammering to Ballymena United.

“Tommy’s resignation was a surprise, and I was saddened to see him stand down,” Lyttle said.

“It is a blow for the club, losing a manager who won so much. But football moves on very quickly.

“When Tommy stepped down on Tuesday night, everyone was gutted, but when I was asked to take the reins, I knew I had to start focusing on Saturday’s game with Glentoran.

“It is the same with the players. It was a sad time when Tommy told them of his decision, but within minutes they were back out on the training pitch preparing for Glentoran. That’s the way the game is.”

Cliftonville currently lie third in the Danske Bank Premiership – five points behind leaders Linfield.

The Reds won their opening four Premiership games without conceding a single goal, but haven’t won in their last three league outings – including defeats to Crusaders and Ballymena.

“I have 100 per cent faith in the players,” added Lyttle.

“The players are professional and they know we have to look ahead now. I have spoken to them as a group and also individually to some of the senior players.

“I have a good relationship with the group and the players are definitely behind me. They will be mentally ready for Saturday. I have no worries about that. They’re a determined bunch and will be fully focused to face Glentoran.”

With Lyttle in temporary charge, Cliftonville will look to appoint a permanent successor in the coming weeks.

Chairman Gerard Lawlor says the club will not be rushed into making an appointment.

“Gerard Lyttle is now in temporary charge and we’ve brought in Mal Donaghy to work alongside him in the interim,” Lawlor said.

“We’ll not make a rushed decision on a new manager. We will search high and low for the right candidate.”

Lawlor added: “Tommy’s resignation was a shock and eventually we had to accept it because he had his mind made up.

“The players were fully behind him, but he said he could no longer give it 100 per cent.”