Captain's Column

Captain’s Column

SKIPPER Stephen O’Donnell admits he is excited by the appointment of Rodney McAree and has urged his team-mates to secure all three points tomorrow afternoon…

It’s been another busy week for us as a club. We’ve won a penalty shootout, we’ve lost a manager and now finally we welcome Rodney McAree to the club as the new gaffer. As I mentioned last week, it’s an exciting time for us as players and for you as fans. It’s an opportunity for us players to embrace new ideas and tactics, whilst it’s a chance for you as fans to build a relationship with someone who I have no doubt will work hard to bring success to our club. As players we have been just as eager to find out who the new manager would be as you have been. We too have been reading the papers and seeing the names linked to the post. As soon as we found out that the new gaffer had been confirmed, we were all excited to start working with a manager who has a fantastic reputation in the local game and has achieved great things down at Dungannon.  As I said last week, it’s a time to be optimistic and excited. The manager is coming into a fantastic group of players who are all hungry to work hard and be successful together. The manager is also coming into a fantastic group of people, both players and staff who will buy into his ideas and work together to ensure we can have a successful season. I feel that it’s just as important for you as fans to buy into the new manager and everything that he tries to do. It has been evident over the last 18 months at this club how the great relationship and support you gave to us as players and the manager really helped create momentum at the club week after week. So, with the big games coming thick and fast, let’s give the new gaffer a warm welcome and show him the full voice of the blue and white army in the next couple of games.

For the first couple of days there was that hangover effect that a manager leaving can have. Once the boys knew that Rodney McAree was in line to become the new manager, there was a real sense of excitement. The uncertainty has been replaced with anticipation and appreciation of the good work the manager has done at Dungannon, most notably winning last year’s League Cup Final. You’ll all be delighted to remember that it was Ballymena they beat that day. On that day Dungannon were excellent and the real thing that stood was there willingness to pass the ball and be creative in the final third. The new manager has a great reputation around the league and anyone who has worked with him or knows him, only has positive words to say about his work ethic and attention to detail. Playing against Dungannon last season, they were always well organised and hard to beat. They were particularly difficult to break down and moved the ball really well throughout the pitch. So, for us as a group it will be interesting to see how the manager integrates his own ideas and philosophies on the training ground and on matchdays. That’s the thing about having a new manager, things will change. Training changes, routines maybe change and ultimately relationships change. It’s important for us as a group to embrace the new manager’s ideas and be enthusiastic about moving forward. At the end of the day, we have an exciting new era about to begin at Coleraine, but the end goal will remain the same. We want to be successful this season. As a group of players and as a club we want to win another trophy.

Let’s give the new gaffer a warm welcome and show him the full voice of the blue and white army in the next couple of games.

To ensure we keep moving in the right direction, it’s important that we pick up three points away to Ards this week. There are a number of reasons this game will be important to us and to every other team in the league. Firstly, everyone will be looking to see how we react to Oran leaving. Will they still have the same hunger? Will they still be the same team? Other teams will be looking for us to slip up after the busy few weeks we’ve had. The only way to answer those questions is with three points on Saturday and I’m confident we can deliver that. Secondly, I feel it’s important to reward Winky, Trevor and Owensy for their hard work over the last week. It hasn’t been easy for them, they also lost a friend, but they have been first class this week and training has been really good. Last night in particular, the session was fantastic and the boys are chomping at the bit to play well and get three points for them. Finally, the new manager will be watching on and it’s important that we show him first-hand how hungry we are and that he is taking over a team of quality players who will work hard every single week, both for him and for the fans.

Amongst all the noise it can be easy to forget about what a good side Ards are and how difficult it will be on Saturday. Yes, I have just mentioned that I’m confident we can get three points, but that is not an arrogance or disregard for Ards’ quality, but a confidence in the ability of our team. Ards are coming off the back of two clean sheets. A good home win against Newry and a good performance away to Linfield. That means it won’t be easy for us to break them down and it will take an aggressive performance to win the battle and a patient display to go on and break them down. They also have some quality players in Gareth Tommons and Johnny Frazer, who can cause problems to any side. Whilst big Mark Kelly has come in and hit the ground running this season and has already scored a few goals. He can be a real handful on his day and we will have to be aggressive in how we deal with him. Recently we have seen Jamie find that goal scoring touch again and Josh Carson has already got himself up and running this season with a few goals. This along with Burnsy getting more minutes under his belt in the IRN BRU Cup last week and coming back into contention, I feel we have the firepower to score goals and win on Saturday in front of the new manager.

Finally, I think Jamie deserves a special mention. He played his part in a phenomenal victory for the Northern Ireland U21 side against Spain during the week. Coming on in games of that intensity are not easy and I think Jamie handled himself really well. That victory gives them a real chance of qualifying and for Jamie and Jackie and so many Irish league players to have been involved in that, is something special. It shows the quality we have in our league and I’m sure that result will live long in their memories.

This week it’s important for us all to get behind the new manager and welcome him into our club. Hopefully we can get a big away support down to Ards on Saturday and we can put in a quality performance and get three big points that will set us up nicely for the big games in the coming weeks.

C’mon the Bannsiders!

Stephen O’Donnell