IRISH LEAGUE: Gerard Lyttle relishing ‘big challenge’ at Solitude as he takes up Cliftonville reins

Gerard Lyttle has been handed the reins at Cliftonville
Gerard Lyttle has been handed the reins at Cliftonville

Gerard Lyttle yesterday admitted he was “lucky” to inherit such a talented squad of players after being appointed manager of Cliftonville on a permanent basis.

The 37-year-old took over on a temporary arrangement when Tommy Breslin quit the club last month.

But after an impressive sequence of results in which the Reds have won five of their six matches, Lyttle was given the nod by chairman Gerard Lawlor, who stated that the new boss “ticked all the right boxes”.

Former Northern Ireland defender Mal Donaghy will remain as his assistant with ex-Carrick Rangers manager Stephen Small installed in a role as a scout and analyst.

“I’ve never made any secret of the fact that I wanted the job,” said Lyttle, whose team face a difficult Danske Bank Premiership outing against Portadown at Solitude on Saturday.

“I’ve confidence in my own ability and I want to get the club back to where it belongs.

“Yes, the results have been positive over the past few weeks – I just don’t know whether that swayed the job in my favour. It’s a big challenge, but I think there is more to come from this team.

“To be honest, I’ve been lucky because I’ve a great squad of boys in the dressing room. They work tirelessly, both on the training pitch and on match days.”

Lyttle believes his boys face another demanding test against Ronnie McFall’s Portadown, who slipped to a shock JBE League Cup defeat to Warrenpoint Town in midweek.

“They are a top team with some of the league’s top players,” added Lyttle.

“With the lads they have you would think they should be up there challenging, but it just hasn’t happened for them.

“Hopefully, it will stay like that until after Saturday’s game.

“We have a pretty good record against them.

“Our main objective is to take three points from the game to keep us on the tails of the leaders.”