IRISH LEAGUE: David Healy promises steely edge as he looks to guide Linfield to glory

David Healy and Linfield director Jack Grundie
David Healy and Linfield director Jack Grundie

Northern Ireland’s record goalscorer David Healy may be a nice guy, but he believes he has the steel to become a great manager for Linfield.

Healy – whose 36 international goals made him the darling of the nation – is known for his softly spoken tones, but he assured the media at his first press conference as Linfield manager that he has a dark side.

“People see the soft side of me on television, but I’m really not that soft natured. You can knock that one on the head, straight away,” he said.

“The team is going to reflect my personality and I don’t want this Linfield team to be soft.

“I didn’t play for the clubs I’ve played for and win so many Northern Ireland caps if I didn’t have an edge. I want my players to have that edge, whether it’s at training or on matchday.

“The players can’t think, ‘well, Healy is a nice guy, I can just turn up here’.

“That’s not going to happen and the players will be made fully aware of that. I will be highly critical of them at times.”

The 36-year-old will take charge of Linfield for the first time on Saturday when the Blues travel to Warrenpoint Town.

Healy, who has signed a two-and-a-half-year deal, is relishing the challenge.

“I’ve a passion for this football club. When I stepped out as a player, especially at Windsor Park, I played with a desire and a passion,” he added.

“I know what this football club means to people.

“I don’t want a bedding in period. I don’t want a honeymoon period. I’m not going to put pressure on myself but we are still in three competitions this season, so I want to win all three.”

The Blues are currently level on points with champions Crusaders at the top of the Danske Bank Premiership, with Cliftonville and Coleraine within touching distance.

Healy accepts that winning the title in his first season will be a tough challenge, but he believes it’s one he can conquer.

“It’s going to be tough. There are good teams in this league. You can go right down the division and still find quality. Look at Ballinamallard. They were very well organised against us. They all knew their jobs and they came to Windsor and got the result,” he said.

“There’s always pressure at Linfield. The longer the club goes without a title the bigger that pressure becomes.

“The last thing I want, or the fans, and particularly the board want is for this to become a run that stretches four, five, six seasons. The rot has got to stop, and I’m hoping it stops this year.”

Although Healy’s appointment has been broadly welcomed by the Linfield support, some have expressed concerns that he might not possess enough knowledge of the Irish League to manage the country’s biggest club. Healy dismissed that suggested out of hand.

“People have asked the question, ‘do you know enough about the Irish League?’ Yeah, I do.

“I’ve been in and around the division all my life. I know a lot of the players and I’ve always kept on top of things. I spoke to (predecessor and former international team-mate) Warren Feeney briefly about the players, and he’s assured me this is a good team.”