CLIFTONVILLE manager Paddy McLaughlin doesn’t believe it is time to panic and has backed his players to dust themselves down and focus ahead of another difficult assessment on Friday evening.
The Reds head to Inver Park to take on County Antrim Shield winners Larne (7.45pm kick-off) hoping to put the disappointment of Monday evening’s defeat to Glentoran behind them.
The 2-1 comeback win for the Glens saw them leapfrog the Solitude side into second place and make it back-to-back home defeats in the process, but speaking in the immediate aftermath of the defeat, McLaughlin describes their recent setbacks as a bump in the road and feels their fans will appreciate their recent endeavours.
“The boys have been superb all year,” McLaughlin believes.
“We’ve had a couple of bumps recently for the first time in the season, so I don’t think there is any crisis or anything to get too down about.
“The fans will understand that they saw how well we played here tonight again, and they appreciate their efforts, desire for the club and their quality of their play.
“I don’t think there is any need to panic or get too down on ourselves. It’s another tough game against Larne who are a really good side.
“We dust ourselves down after tonight and go again. It’s disappointing now at the minute because emotions are a wee bit raw, but I think tomorrow when we wake up it will be a new day and the focus will go to Larne.”
McLaughlin revealed the players were disappointed and hard on themselves after the defeat but insists that they can take some positives when the heads clear and is adamant the disappointment is a sign of how well they have progressed this season.
“The players were disappointed straight after the game,” McLaughlin confirmed.
“We’re disappointed in any defeat at any level and we’re no different, I think they’ll be alright. I think in a day or two when the heads are cleared, and they remembered how well they played- especially in the second half- the last 20 minutes I thought they were excellent.
“They moved the ball a lot quicker and created a lot more chances than we had and for the majority of the game we were well in control.
“We’re playing against one of the top teams in the country and a team that is well fancied to win the league. It’s no shame getting beat, but it says a lot when we’re coming away from the pitch disappointed that we didn’t get a draw.
“Our boys have come a long way this year and I’m sure our fans understand that and people watching the game will understand that. They’ll be disappointed tonight but we’ve another big game on Friday night and we’ll roll our sleeves up and get back to work.”
With two weeks of the transfer window remaining, the Reds’ boss admits he would like to add a player or two to improve his squad and freshen things up, but if that doesn’t happen, he is happy with what he has at his disposal if the squad has an injury crisis.
“You’re always on the look-out to improve the squad no matter whether you’re top, middle or bottom in any division,” he insists.
“Our boys have been superb, but we probably could be doing with one or two just to freshen things up and one or two reinforcements gives the players a lift as well as the supporters. If it doesn’t happen, we’re delighted with what we have as long as they stay fit and healthy.
“If we can add to it, so be it. We’ll be glad to see new faces come in and give everybody a kick up the backside more than anything because they’ll be coming into play, not to sit on the bench or sit in the stand. When you see a new player coming in, somebody is going to obviously have to make room for him.
“It mightn’t be a bad thing to bring in one or two but like I say, if it doesn’t happen, we’ve got a good squad and we’ve done really well until this point, but we’ve got to remember there’s still a lot of football to be played and we’ve got to get back on the horse as soon as possible.”
Reflecting on his transfer business last January, McLaughlin thinks it gave his side a shot in the arm but doesn’t feel major surgery is needed 12 months on.
“We did well last January and had a good window,” McLaughlin reflected.
“We moved one or two on and we brought in five or six that gave us a real shot in the arm this time last year. You never know, things can change quickly in football, but I don’t think we’re in need for major surgery.
“I don’t think we’re in the need for five or six. I think one or two new faces and a bit of life and brightness coming in gives everybody a lift.
“We’ll target one or two maybe, but I don’t think there is any need for major surgery in the squad because we’ve been excellent up until this point. We’ll see what happens over the next couple of weeks.”