Linfield manager David Healy believes there is extra pressure heaped on Linfield ahead of Saturday’s Tennent’s Irish Cup final against Glenavon at Windsor Park.
The former Northern Ireland striker succeeded Warren Feeney back in October and, for the second time in six months, he has taken the Blues to the brink of their first trophy success in two years.
Healy’s boys fell in the final furlong of an intriguing long, hard, league campaign. Crusaders put their foot on the gas when it mattered, which the catalyst in them retaining the Gibson Cup.
But now only Glenavon stand between the Blues and a significant trophy breakthrough.
Gary Hamilton’s team have been down this road two years ago – they know what it takes to win important games.
Taking into account that Linfield have failed to win a ‘major’ since David Jeffrey was in the Windsor Park hot-seat, it’s becoming more of a issue – and it's something the fans need no reminding of.
“If Linfield had won the treble last season, there would still be huge demand on us winning the Irish Cup,” admitted Healy.
“It doesn’t matter if you win leagues and trophies. When Linfield turn up in an Irish Cup final, they are expected to win it.
“The simple fact is, it doesn’t matter who they are playing – Glenavon, Crusaders or Cliftonville, the expectation levels of our supporters is vast. They expect us to win it.
“For me, it’s another game. For the club and the players, it’s a huge game. We haven’t been in an Irish Cup final since 2012.
“We probably should have won the County Antrim Shield in January, but we didn’t. After the game I told the players to be hurt after seeing another team win a trophy on our stadium.
“It was then I put the date, May 7, into their heads. It told them it was something to aim at – cup final day. I want the players to say ‘he was right’.
“Hopefully, they can now come into this final with a point to prove. They have given themselves that opportunity.
"They bounced back after that disappointment, so I hope and pray they can go on and do it.”
Losing out on the league title was obviously a big disappointment, but would an Irish Cup win help the healing process?
“I think it would,” adds Healy. “You can think back to the games we lost or under performed in – probably around the time I came into the job. But the response has been fabulous.
“Jimmy (Callacher) scored a massive goal against Coleraine (in early December). We were not at our best – and it certainly wasn’t pretty. It wasn’t the best goal you’ll see, but it was a vital one. It helped give us that little bit of belief.
“From December onwards, we have only lost a few games. Everyone is on a high at the minute, so it would be great to finish with a trophy. It would certainly erase the disappointment of losing out on the title.
“I can’t wait for the final. I am privileged manage this club. To lead these boys out in a cup final will be special for me.
“But it will only be special if we win it."