New Glentoran boss Warren Feeney will be hoping for a fast start to the season, when his side get their Sports Direct Premiership campaign underway against Glenavon this Saturday.
Feeney already has two competitive matches under his belt as Glentoran were defeated by Maltese side Gzira United in a dramatic penalty shoot-out in UEFA Europa Conference League Qualifying, but with league fixtures around the corner, he says that he’s excited for the challenges that lie ahead.
“I have been loving it so far to be fair; they are a good bunch of boys,” he said.
“It helps when you have the calibre of player that we do, and I suppose pre season came down to me implementing what I want to do.
“It’s a great club and it’s a big challenge, but it’s nothing that fazes me. I have had a good welcome since I got the start that I did, and I’m looking forward to it.”
Glentoran have seen important players Terry Devlin and Conor McMenamin depart for new ventures across the water, as they joined Portsmouth and St Mirren respectively, but Feeney will be encouraged by the singing of Larne defensive midfielder Fuad Sule and Linfield’s Cammy Palmer – as well as Patrick McClean coming out of retirement.
“I am very pleased,” he affirmed.
“There are good players who have left, but I want to bring in my core group of three or four players to add to what we have already got.
“Having Paddy McClean back is like a new signing for us as well, and I’m looking forward to working with him as well as the rest of the boys.”
Having already discussed how impressed he is with the strength of the squad at Glentoran, Feeney went on to discuss how hungry for success the Glens’ supporters are, having not won the Premiership title since 2009.
“I know what the fans in East Belfast want,” said Feeney.
“They want success, and I can’t wave a magic wand and say that I’m going to bring that, but we need to be competing at the very top.
“It’s a long time since they won the league, and the mentality needs to change, and that’s one thing that I’m trying to install in the players.”
If Glentoran are to usurp last year’s champions Larne, and the always favoured Linfield, and claim the title, they will be hoping to get off to a good start, beginning with Saturday’s away trip to Glenavon.
Feeney will also be hoping for a good start, with some supporters not keen on the board’s decision to appoint the former Linfield boss as manager, following Rodney McAree’s exit.
“I’m big enough in football to take it (criticism),” he said.
“I don’t look at that stuff, I don’t do social media, I don’t worry about it, and I can’t fault any outside noise. I just want to focus on the boys.
“There are going to be ups and downs in a season, but we have to make sure that we have more ups, and the boys are buying into the way I want to do things.
“When you have the players on your side, you always have half a chance.”