Gary Hamilton has responded with surprise at claims by opposite number David Healy that Glenavon host Linfield tonight as the side under greater pressure.
The defending champions come to Lurgan to tackle Glenavon aiming to cut the six-point gap on Hamilton’s squad sitting in second.
Healy views Glenavon and Danske Bank Premiership leaders Coleraine as the sides in the spotlight compared to his Linfield panel.
It is a logic questioned by Hamilton.
“Anyone who knows will realise that all the pressure’s on Linfield Football Club and not ourselves or Coleraine,” said the Glenavon boss in an interview with the club’s official website. “Linfield Football Club, the size that they are and the budget that they have and the players that they have are expected to finish above Glenavon and Coleraine every year, it’s as simple as that.
“Whenever I played for the Glens it was the same for the Glens – you were expected, as a ‘Big Two’ team, to finish above the rest every year and anything else was a failure.
“Everyone’s got their opinions but, for him to come out and say there’s pressure on us, there’s certainly no pressure on me anyway or on my players.
“They’ve done tremendously well so far and obviously they want to keep the run going but in terms of pressure, there’s no pressure on them to win a league title. “At the end of the year the only pressure will be on David or Stephen (Baxter, Crusaders manager) if they don’t win it.
“In every league in the world it’s expected that the ‘big clubs’ like Barcelona or Real Madrid are expected to win the league or challenge for league titles. “When Leicester won the English Premier League it was a massive, massive story.
“Europe’s always going to be our aim.”
Healy had praise for the start to the season enjoyed by the division’s top-two teams but was keen to see Linfield utilise greater experience gained from past title success.
“Glenavon are playing well and scoring goals, and like Coleraine they are riding on the crest of a wave,” said Healy. “The pressure though will start mounting on Glenavon somewhere along the line.
“Crusaders are right in there too, it’s all to play for.
“Coleraine are miles ahead of us at the minute.
“The good thing for me as the Linfield manager is the pressure isn’t on us this year.
“The pressure is on Coleraine, they’ve not been there, we have come from behind before, so we are capable of doing it.
“Is the lead catchable? We’ll see.
“It’s a different pressure for these other clubs, can they sustain it, have they got good enough squads to sustain it?
“I know deep down in our dressing room we are capable.
“It’s going to be a good game down at Mourneview.”
Hamilton also had a view on the aftermath of Linfield releasing a statement calling for a review of referee standards.
“I would hope that NIFL would appoint a set of officials from out of the country so there’d be no pressure on them in a big game,” said Hamilton on the club’s official website. “That’s what should happen after statements like that are made because, if there’s a decision that goes against Glenavon, it could be perceived as due to the pressure that Linfield have created with their statements, and if Linfield get a decision given against them, it’ll be seen in that context as well so the referee’s in a no-win situation.”