IRISH LEAGUE: New Glentoran boss Alan Kernaghan ready for baptism of fire against Crusaders

New Glentoran manager Alan Kernaghan at The Oval on Monday following his unveiling
New Glentoran manager Alan Kernaghan at The Oval on Monday following his unveiling

Alan Kernaghan admits Saturday’s trip to champions Crusaders will be like “diving off the top board” for the new Glentoran boss.

Kernaghan was unveiled as the Glens’ new manager on Monday, little over three weeks after The Oval club sacked Eddie Patterson.

The east Belfast giants – under the guidance of Director of Football Roy Coyle – have gone on a four-game unbeaten run since the departure of Patterson.

New permanent boss Kernaghan is determined to continue building momentum, but to do that he will have to outfox Crusaders in their own back yard.

It is the latest acid test for the Glens, and a massive debut for new boss Kernaghan.

But the former Manchester City and Republic of Ireland defender is relishing the challenge.

“Crusaders is a great game to start off with. I suppose it is like diving off the top board,” the ??-year-old said.

“It is a big challenge for us, but it is one we are looking forward to.

“I have been working with the players this week, and I have been impressed with what I have seen so far.

“They all responded to what I wanted and they are up for the challenge.

“My message to the players was to be hungry for success. Go out and give your all.

“I had watched them play three times before my appointment was made. There is a solid platform there to build on, and they have been on a decent run of results.”

While it would be unfair to expect a dramatic transformation from the Glens on Saturday, Kernaghan is demanding to see progress from his players.

“There is only so much the players will get from a couple of training sessions, so it will take time,” he added.

“But you always want to see progress, and that the players are taking on board what we want.

“You want to continue making positive steps in the right direction, and hopefully on Saturday we will see that happening.

“I want to see a good level of performance at Seaview. We want to threaten Crusaders’ defence and be positive in attack.”

Glentoran sit sixth in the table, 13 points adrift of Crusaders who sit ominously at the summit.

“It is a sizeable gap, but it is one we want to try and eat into,” Kernaghan said.

“If we can claw our way nearer the top over the next few weeks then that will be progress.

“We have some big games coming up, and we want to be competitive in whatever competition we play in.

“There is no reason why we can’t close in on the teams above us, but we have to work hard. This set of players has proved they can win silverware, it is about getting that level of performance on a consistent basis, especially in the Premiership.

“This is a fresh start for me, but also for the players. I am relishing the challenge. Glentoran is a great club with a great tradition and history.

“We now have to create our own history by being successful and winning trophies.

“That’s the aim.”