IRISH LEAGUE: Stephen Baxter not bothered by criticism of Crusaders’ style

Stephen Baxter
Stephen Baxter

Stephen Baxter insists Crusaders’ record speaks for itself despite some criticism of his team’s perceived style of play.

The Danske Bank Premiership champions have been derided as unsophisticated and physical by some observers.

But with the Gibson Cup safely tucked away in Seaview’s trophy cabinet, and with a glittering haul of other silverware having been claimed by the Shore Road club in recent years, Baxter admits he “doesn’t care” what his rivals think.

“It doesn’t irritate me when people criticise my team. Not at all,” Baxter said.

“Maybe those other teams should put a mirror up and take a look at their own style of play.

“They play similar to us, but without the same quality that we play it.

“So when criticism is levelled at your style, I think there is a level of jealously involved, so I don’t really care.”

Baxter believes Crusaders should be praised for their versatility in the Premiership.

The Crues won the title at a canter last season, and currently lead the way at the top of the table by a hefty eight points.

“We have shown we can be versatile. If we have to put wing wizards on, we will. If we have to stand tall and fight it out, we will,” he added.

“Richard Clarke produced a master class against Rathfriland in the Irish Cup, but he hasn’t played the last two games.

“Teams are trying to deal with us, and therefore I have to make sure I get the decisions right when looking at the opposition, the venue and player fitness. So a lot goes into it, and that’s why we have a squad.

“I focused on what we do, not what people think of us. They criticised out pitch, and now our style of play. Let them work away – we are playing in the Champions League.

“But we will just prepare for our next game which is Coleraine away. Another tough game.

“We got a good win against Portadown last week and we have to build on that. That late goal gave everyone that wee bit of an extra lift.”