Linfield FC have unveiled former Northern Ireland striker Warren Feeney as their new manager, with the 33-year-old following in the footsteps of David Jeffrey, who stepped down at the weekend after 17 years in charge of the Belfast club.
Feeney, who won 46 international caps during a playing career that included spells with Stockport County FC and Plymouth Argyle FC, knows he has big shoes to fill. Jeffrey won 31 trophies during his tenure, including nine league titles, six of them domestic doubles and a clean sweep of all four domestic trophies in 2005/06.
"I plan to speak with David and what he achieved here was phenomenal," said Feeney. "This is a new era for Linfield and the club is under my guidance now. When I heard David was stepping down, I knew immediately I wanted to apply for the post. I am a boyhood Linfield fan and this is the only job I would return home for. I am relishing the challenge of bringing success and silverware to Linfield."
The Blues, who last won the Northern Irish title in 2011/12, have watched Belfast rivals Cliftonville FC dominate the league the past two seasons. The Reds celebrated a second successive championship on Saturday, the first back-to-back titles in the Solitude club's 135-year history.
"Cliftonville have won the title the past two seasons and they are a good side, but my primary focus is on Linfield and helping the club get back to where it belongs," said Feeney. "I have fresh ideas and I want to bring the best players possible here to strengthen the team. I have contacts in England I will be tapping into and I am already speaking with agents. The biggest misconception people have of me is that I'm easygoing. I will be honest and straight, but I will also be ruthless if I have to."
Feeney, who is considering registering himself as a player for the new Irish League season in August, has appointed former Blackburn Rovers FC defender Andy Todd as his assistant. "Andy has a great pedigree and didn't hesitate to come on board," he said. "He has bought into what I want to do here and I'm looking forward to working with him." Linfield chairman Jim Kerr noted: "Warren Feeney has a lot of experience in the game. He is a young, ambitious manager and we will back him fully within the budget laid out by the club."
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