ALAN Blair would have wished for a better start to his managerial career, but the 31-year-old ‘dyed in the wool’ Institute man has no intention of throwing in the towel now that John Gregg has departed.
ARTHUR DUFFY reports
Photographs: PHIL GAMBLE
Assistant manager to the Coleraine man, Blair has been involved with the Riverside Stadium club for over a decade as both a player and coach and he made it clear last weekend that he’s ready to accept the vacant managerial position should it be offered to him.
Disappointed at Saturday’s poor defeat by Ballinamallard, Blair maintained that everything had been fine up until ‘Stute conceded the first goal.
“For quite a few of the players, heads seemed to drop once we conceded,” he noted.
“And that was very disappointing as we had prepared well despite John Gregg’s decision to resign. Training was good and we had hoped to end our disappointing run of results at home.”
But it certainly was not the result he had been hoping for. “It was a bad result as we can perform much better than we did in the second half.
“Once the first goal was conceded, boys’ heads dropped all over the pitch, I don’t know if it’s a hangover from what happened during the week but we had players who seemed to go into their shells,” added the former defender.
He believed the team had prepared well but admitted that it would be difficult to pick up the players after the controversies of the past few days.
“We did okay in the first half having created scoring chances but we failed to take them, but the second half was really disappointing.
“It’s not the first time that we’ve failed to take advantage of our scoring chances, but in any game the opposition will always get chances so it’s vitally important to score goals when such opportunities materialize.
“And I’m not being critical of the strikers, it’s down to everyone to play their part in attempting to score goals.”
Can’t use resignation
How much of an effect has Gregg’s resignation had in the dressing room?
“John has brought a lot of lads to the club and they are naturdally disappointed to see him leave.
“But he’s now left us and we can’t use that as an excuse for the performance against Ballinamallard.
“Players now must stand up and be counted and, of course, show their loyalty to any new manager coming in. I don’t believe players can use the former manager’s resignation as an excuse for the performance in the second half.
“There’s no doubt that confidence is low within the entire squad and until a new manager is appointed, it will be up to me to attempt to lift the spirits of the playing staff.”
Did he want the job on permanent basis?
“I’m a ‘Stute man, through and through. I’ve been involved with the club for 11 years, so I think that says quite a lot about my loyalty.
“Of course, I would love to get the job, but that decision will be made by others.
“I believe any new manager coming in will have a deent squad to work with. It’s my view that we have a very good group of players who are capable of finishing in the top half of the table.
“However, the decision to appoint the new manager is for others to decide but, yes, I would aspire to manage this football club at some stage after I opted to involve myself in a coaching role,” confirmed Blair.
Institute - Ryan, Ferguson, D. Curry, Wray, Browne, Lynch, Semple (Divin), McIntyre, McCready (Blackburn), Taylor, Nicell. Subs. Not used: S. Curry, Smith and Smyth.
Ballinamallard – Morrison, McConkey, Weir, Carter, Stafford, G. Hutchinson, S. Hutchinson, Kee, McGuigan, Crawford, Higgenbotham. Subs., Harper, Quinn, Crilly, Curran.
Referee – Mr. E. Ferguson.