Warren Feeney insists he doesn’t mind if critics continue taking pot shots at him this season.
The new Linfield boss is cutting his teeth in the Irish Premiership after being named as David Jeffrey’s successor back in May.
An unforgiving spotlight has fallen on Feeney this season after stepping into the shoes of a managerial legend who won all before him during 17 stellar years at the club.
But fast-forward to Christmas and Feeney’s Blues sit four points clear at the top of the Danske Bank Premiership.
Despite some doubts and barbed criticism being aimed at Feeney, the former Northern Ireland striker remains on course to return Linfield to the top step of local football.
“People were saying that I didn’t know what I was doing. Maybe I don’t. I have to pick lottery balls to select the team,” Feeney joked.
“I will let everyone else do the talking and all I will worry about is my changing room.
“I have a great bunch of lads who are buying into what I want to do.
“I have tied a few of them down to new contracts, and I want to build on this nucleus.”
Linfield’s positive campaign continue on Saturday with a spirited 3-2 win over title rivals Portadown.
Goalkeeper Ross Glendinning was the hero, saving Ross Redman’s 91st-minute penalty to help earn maximum points.
Jimmy Callacher gave Linfield an early lead that was cancelled out by Sean Mackle and Mark McAllister.
Two goals in six second-half minutes then had the Blues in front again.
Aaron Burns – playing his 150th game for the club – converted a penalty in the 50th minute after Redman had tripped Stephen Lowry inside the box.
Burns’ effort rattled the underside of the crossbar and bounced out, but referee Ray Hetherington’s assistant awarded the goal.
And six minutes later, Ivan Sproule crossed for Sammy Morrow to rifle an unstoppable shot past David Miskelly – a goal that would be the eventual winner.
Ports boss Ronnie McFall was left fuming at the performance of the match officials.
“In the second half they got the penalty kick, which I didn’t think crossed the line. Why did the referee play on for a few seconds after it hit the bar?” McFall said.
“Also we ended up with six players booked, and Linfield end up with just one. How do you explain these things?
“Referees are getting slaughtered every week, and when you judge them on this performance then it is justified. They are not up to the standard required.
“This was a crunch match today, with two teams at the top end of the league fighting for three points, and the officials had a nightmare of a match.”
He added: “That’s two defeats on the bounce, but we are still sitting joint second in the table. We just have to keep battling on.”