DECLAN O’Hara believes that a massive summer lies ahead at Solitude.
Saturday’s Playoff defeat to Glentoran saw Cliftonville miss out on European football and the financial benefits associated.
The Reds will also announce a new manager to replace Paddy McLaughlin in the coming weeks, but the interim boss believes that there is enough talent within the dressing room to become challengers once again.
“It’s a massive summer ahead,” believes O’Hara.
“To be honest, I don’t know what is going on. Maybe in the next couple of days I will. It’s massive for the club. Let’s call it, we’re a good team. We went the last two years challenging part-time. The boys in there, I feel for them because they work their socks off, every single training session.
“Now it is down to the new manager whoever it is, I don’t know. It is down to them to know to make them challengers again.
“There are a lot of bodies to be picked up in there and they’ll go away and have a break. They deserve a break because it has almost been a year since we’ve been back in. That is a long time in football. Our boys will get their holidays and whatever happens, happens because I genuinely don’t know myself.”
☘️ A very disappointing way to end our season but thank you so much for your support.— Cliftonville FC (@cliftonvillefc) May 13, 2023
Take care of yourselves during the break and, after a rest and regroup, we'll be back. pic.twitter.com/SznsvrxcKP
O’Hara is uncertain if the added break might be a blessing in the long run for the players when weighing up against the positives that European adventures bring to the club.
“I don’t know if it is a blessing because we loved last year going away and playing in Europe,” he added.
“It was quality, and the club did everything they could to make it as professional as possible.
“That extra break might help them for next year. We might stay in the race next year. if we’d have qualified for Europe, we’d probably be back in two weeks' time. Now, the club can have four or five weeks.”
The 40-year-old is unsure of his own future at the club, amid speculation of who might take the job on a full-time basis, but O’Hara says he will understand if he isn’t part of the new plans.
“Everybody that knows me, knows what I am,” he said.
“Again, that isn’t up to me. It’s down to whoever the new manager is, and I’ve always said this, if the new manager comes in and doesn’t want me, I totally understand. It’s football and it happens.
“I’m big enough and ugly enough to look after myself and to go and take it on the chin. Yes, it will be hard. I know what way football works and whatever happens in the next day or two, happens. I don’t know anything and that is the truth.”
Reflecting upon his four games in charge, O’Hara admits he did enjoy his time in charge and thanked former team-mate David McAlindan as well as Marc Smyth and Brendan Lynch for coming in and giving him a hand in recent weeks.
“`Honestly, I loved it to be quite honest,” O’Hara admitted.
“Could I do it for a long time? I don’t know how other managers in the league do it, because it is constantly a full-time job.
“I’ve loved every minute of it and I’ve loved bringing Davy McAlindan, Marc Smyth and Brendy Lynch in with me to help me out. They’ve been excellent to me, and the staff have been top-notch.”