IRISH LEAGUE: Five man midfield the '˜secret' to Glens' success
Any Glentoran fans hoping to see an quick end to their five man midfield could well be frustrated.
While the supporters may be used to seeing a more attacking set-up, new manager Gary Haveron says their 4-5-1 formation has been the key to their recent successes.
And perhaps, given that Haveron has now guided the Glens to three successive league wins for the first time since March, the supporters will trust his judgement.
“We’re still playing with an extra midfielder rather than an extra striker. That’s something I want to do,” said Haveron. “I know the fans obviously want us to score goals but at the end of the day, we have to be hard to beat and organised first and foremost. That’s what we’ve been and that’s been the secret behind our success.”
Haveron’s Glens were made to graft for their 2-1 win at his former club Carrick on Saturday. Stevie Gordon blasted a header home on 10 minutes from a superb Ciaran Caldwell cross, then Curtis Allen’s third goal of the season made it two shortly after the break.
Carrick rallied and a looping Paddy McNally header halved the deficit but Haveron’s Glens missed opportunities to embellish the scoreline.
“Not a great deal has changed. The players are still very much the same,” said Haveron, who has seen a swift upturn in form.
“We adapted training a little more to what I think they needed. The intensity has gone up a little more.
“There’s nothing I’m doing that’s unbelievable, it’s just hard work. The players want to work hard, they want to be successful.
“The boys believed they could win the game and that’s maybe the biggest difference.
“I think they were feeling a bit sorry for themselves, as they would admit. You get that after a run of bad results. It was important to stop that bad run. We did that with the point against Ballinamallard. The last three wins have been hard-fought and hard-earned.”
Meanwhile, new Carrick boss Aaron Callaghan is still waiting for a similar revival in results, just a point from his opening three league games.
“We were chasing the game in the second half and I think with a bit of luck, we might have nicked something,” he said.
“I don’t think there was any quality between the teams. We could have had an early goal (in the second half) and then the Achilles heal for some of these players - they switched off at a set-piece. You cannot concede goals like that.
“The response was absolutely brilliant. We laid seige to their goal for the last 25 minutes. We just need that little bit of luck.
“With the response, attitude and determination - I was delighted.”
The players are trying to buying into what we want from them. They want to work hard, they want to be successful.
We were workmanlike rather than spectacular. There was a wee bit of creativity, early in the game I thought we could score at will but then we got caught a bit on our heels.
That’s decent enough form.
The boys believed they could win the game and that’s maybe the biggest difference. We’re going into games believing we can win them whereas before, there was always that feeling of when are we going to get hurt or when are we going to concede a goal and lose the match. Now they’re going in with that real grit about them.
I think we played some lovely football, particularly during the first half down the right side. The goal we scored at the end was a great sweeping move - from being strong and resolute in defence, we break. One pass releases the midfielder, one pass sprays it wide, one pass cuts into the box and we nearly put the ball into the net because a midfielder, Ciaran Caldwell, is willing to make that run. He’s broken himself to get in there and just fluffed it which was disappointing because if he scored that goal, you’d be talking about it for some time to come. We were always the team more likely to win the game, as much as Carrick fought.
There’s no such thing in this league. If you don’t prepare properly and show the teams the respect they deserve, you can come unstuck to anybody. We’ve got to go there and be confident in what we’ve down over the past few weeks and build on this result.
For about 15 or 20 minutes of the second half against Crusaders, we had a chance to go 2-2 and a little bit of quality shone through.
“I don’t think there was any quality between the two teams. They were the better team in the first half. They definitely started a lot quicker than we did but we went in at half-time and had a little chat. We came out in the second half and started off like a house on fire. We could have had an early goal and then the Achilles heal for some of these players - they switched off at a set-piece. You cannot conceded goals like that at any level, let alone this level.
The response after the second goal was absolutely brilliant. We laid seige to their goal I thought for the last 25 minutes - they defended well to be fair. We just need that little bit of luck, maybe a ball bouncing off the centre-half or a ball ricocheting off someone. With the response, attitude and determination - I was delighted.
I’m bringing my experience of 25 years in the game, as a player, coach and manager. I’m trying to get the lads to believe and understand that they’ve got to play as a unit. The sum of the parts has to be better than the indiv iduals and that’s the only way we’re going to get out of this mess. They’ve gone in disappointed and they’re arguing amongst themselves - that shows me that they care. Once I see that, I can work with that, particularly on the training ground. We’ve increased the intensity of the training - we’re getting one or two of the injured players back which is going to help us and we’re trying to get them to believe and to be confident that if you put a shift in on a weekly basis, you might not get your rewards every week but you will certainly pick up points along the way.
We’re not looking over our shoulders at Portadown, we’re looking at the team above us. That’s going to be a difficult task particularly because of the nature of the league. It’s a tough league, every game is a different story but if the lads are putting in shifts like that, I think we’ll definitely turn the corner.