Glentoran Director of Football Roy Coyle believes Eddie Patterson has worked wonders since arriving at The Oval three years ago.
Since succeeding Scott Young back in February 2012, Patterson has progressed under a rigid policy of austerity that has forced him to invest in youth.
Young stars including Jordan Stewart, Kym Nelson, Stephen Gordon and Willie Garrett have all been handed their chance on the Premiership stage – and they are starting to deliver.
The Glens remain on course to claim a European qualification spot this season, and on Saturday they will face Crusaders in a massive Irish Cup semi-final showdown at Mourneview Park.
Patterson’s finest hour at the club came in May 2013 when Glentoran defeated his former club Cliftonville in the final of the blue riband competition.
A repeat dose this term would be another seismic achievement for the club, and for a manager whose frugal yet ambitious approach has earned plenty of praise.
“I think Eddie has done a fantastic job,” Coyle said.
“People say that he has been working with his hands tied behind his back, but you could argue that he has had his legs shackled, eyes blindfolded and thrown into the Atlantic and told to swim.
“What he has done, and the way he has introduced young talent, is fantastic. The level of expectation and demand at The Oval is always there.
“The next step will obviously be to compete in the Premiership. Glentoran haven’t really contested the league title since the late Alan McDonald was here.
“I am sure that is something Eddie will want to address. He will want to get the club back to where most of the supporters demand, and the board expect.”
Coyle believes fans are starting to buy into the club’s patient approach.
Following Glentoran’s Irish Cup success of 2013, Patterson lost Andy Waterworth and Sean Ward to Linfield, while Stephen Carson and Colin Nixon also parted company with the club.
Jimmy Callacher also made the move from The Oval to Windsor Park the following season, forcing Patterson to put his faith in inexperienced kids.
Many observers were quick to write off their chances before a ball was even kicked this season.
But the Glens have managed to defy the critics with an entertaining brand of football that has earned the plaudits.
“I think fans are aware of the financial situation the club is in,” Coyle added.
“The club was close to folding not that long ago, and it was close to going into administration.
“In fairness, people have supported the club financially, and the fans have stayed loyal.
“It is not expectation at Glentoran – it is demand. That comes with the history of the club.”
Meanwhile, Crusaders are confident Gavin Whyte will recover from illness to feature in Saturday’s Irish Cup semi-final.
The 19-year-old winger sat out last Saturday’s 3-1 Premiership win at Ballymena United with a flu bug.
“Gavin was feeling poorly with a flu bug, but we are hopeful he is now ready to return to action,” Crues boss Stephen Baxter said.
“The signs are he should be fit and ready for the Glentoran cup tie.
“As you can imagine everyone wants to be playing in big games like these.”