PORTADOWN manager Ronnie McFall has described the performance levels of his players as “unacceptable” in the aftermath of back-to-back defeats by Dungannon Swifts and Drogheda United.
McFall maintains his overall belief in the quality of a squad assembled by the manager to compete for silverware but considers hard work as the only solution to the alarming decline in confidence and quality.
The Ports visit Windsor Park – the home of the defending Irish League champions, Linfield – this weekend aiming to arrest a slump in form and results which has led to anger from the stands.
Large groups of supporters opted to vote with their feet on Monday night – with Portadown’s Setanta Sports Cup second-leg tie attracting just 242 across the home turnstiles. Significantly, high numbers started to walk out of Shamrock Park with around 20 minutes remaining in Monday’s 5-0 defeat.
Concern at growing fan frustration – and the financial implications of stayaway supporters coupled with loss of revenue generators such as European qualification – led to a meeting between the manager and Ronnie Stinson, the board’s director of football, on Wednesday.
“I do not want to comment on specifics but can confirm a meeting was held this week with the manager,” said Stinson. “It was all positive and designed to discuss ways in which we can move forward to turn the season around.”
McFall is clear that the first – and most important – step must be an improvement in the attitude of his players.
“On Monday, we met a decent side in Drogheda United and had players missing, however, Saturday was unacceptable,” said McFall. “We are all hurting and now is the time for the players to stand up and be counted.
“They have all proven in the past they can win trophies and I have no doubts over the quality so need to consider the Dungannon performance as a one-off and put it behind us.
“Some of our displays from January have been decent, for example, we dominated Glentoran but had two men sent off.
“We lack aggression, especially in that central midfield area, although I did not want to spend money for the sake of it by bringing in players with less quality than those on the books.
“Neil McCafferty is at his best with that aggressive midfield partner, we will not see the best of Tim Mouncey until next season and the situations with Shane McCabe (walked out) and Richard Clarke (illness) were out of our control.
“A finish inside the top six is still an option but it will be hard.
“We also have the Irish Cup quarter-finals coming up next weekend and I will pick my strongest available side for every fixture.
“We are missing some big personalities from previous squads but still have very good players, certainly among the best in the league, around the defence and attack in particular.
“Hard work should be the starting point for every match and now is the time to stick together.
“We can only do so much in the management team as once they cross the white line on a matchday it is up to the individual to motivate himself and take pride in playing for himself and the jersey.”
Kick-off tomorrow (Saturday) against Linfield will be 3 o’clock.
PORTADOWN’S scheduled Danske Bank Premiership visit to Lisburn Distillery on Tuesday has been postponed due to the host club’s Irish Cup commitments. A fresh date has yet to be announced.