Jamie Mulgrew programme article

Posted : 12th April 2023

Legendary Linfield skipper Jamie Mulgrew believes the Blues’ general level of performances across the last two months can give them the confidence to end the season strongly, and he reckons winning the Bet McLean Cup last month gave the Blues a real shot in the arm.

“Some boys in our squad might take inspiration from our 2016-17 title and how we won it, but there’s been a big overhaul in our squad since then. I think if anything can give this squad belief, it will come from our level of performances over the last few months. We won the League Cup which gave us a taster of what success feels like, and I think that has kicked us on a wee bit. We looked ahead to our first two split games being at home and trying to see that as an opportunity to keep that form going, so that we could be going to Larne with all to play for. Let’s hope that can be the case.

“All the top six teams have beaten each-other this season, and are capable of beating one another in the split, so it’s vitally important that we are reaching our full potential, because if we aren’t doing that, then we won’t win games and that would mean we wouldn’t be challenging.”

And whilst there would be a natural temptation to be interested in the fate of your title rivals at this stage of the season, the ten-time Irish League winner wants his teammates to fully focus on the four tough matches ahead of them against Glentoran, Coleraine, Larne and Cliftonville.

“I think it’s important that we do our job and just focus on ourselves. That’s always been how we go about our business and it doesn’t change. You never know what can happen, but if we aren’t fully focused, then we could miss our opportunities to capitalise, if other teams do slip up. If we win all our games and fall short, then so be it, then the next best thing would be to finish second and secure the guarantee of European football.

“We want to be in Europe again after what happened to us in Europe at the start of this season, and everybody knows the finances it can bring in, so that’s also very important and it means every game is huge now, no matter where you sit in the table. If we come up short, then we will congratulate the winners, but we are fully focused on trying to maximise our points and in any case, we will do our very best.”

Linfield have won three and lost two of the five derby clashes with Glentoran this season to date, with the most recent derby a 3-0 defeat at The Oval on Valentines’ Day. The Blues bounced back from that with a great run of form and, ahead of tonight’s crunch ‘Big Two’ derby at Windsor Park, midfield maestro Mulgrew says the Blues will aim for a positive start and he wants the Linfield supporters to play their part.

“We would hope that with us being at home and with the crowd behind us, we could hopefully get the first goal, and if we could do that, then the fans could spur us on, especially with the stage of the season that we are at. It’s important that we are on the front foot from the start of the match and attacking.

“We put a good run of form together after losing to Glentoran in February and that’s what we needed to do, and that’s why we edged closer to Larne. If we are to have any chance of winning the League, I believe we have to take maximum points from here. If we don’t do that, then we’ll fall short, so the mentality is that we need to be flawless and that’s what we will all be striving for.”

With young strikers Chris McKee and Ethan Devine both amongst the goals recently, 36-year-old Mulgrew says the squad is well primed and he underlines the importance of every player playing to the best of their ability.

“We have a lot of players who are fit and available now. Stephen Fallon is back from injury and has been training with us for a number of weeks, which is another big plus to the squad. Robbie McDaid is out long term but the majority of the boys are ready to go, so we’ve a good squad now and it’s been good to see Chris McKee and Ethan Devine take their chance of late. It’s important at this stage that all of us continue to be in top form because that’s what it’s definitely going to take.

“It’s been a long season, but with four games left we’ll give it everything in the final stretch. It would be fantastic to finish with another title to show for a long campaign which we have put a lot into, but with Larne on top, we can just do our best and see what happens.”

With over 700 competitive first team games under his belt, Linfield will rely on the vast experience of their inspirational club captain, Jamie Mulgrew to drive the squad on, to try and secure what would be vital wins in these four remaining huge league games at the end of a long and demanding season
Next Match
Queen's University
League Cup
Kick-off : 3rd October @ 7:45pm
Venue : Windsor Park
Last Match
Newry City
Irish Premier League Match Report