Paddy McLaughlin insists the lure of managing some of the top players in the Irish League was too big an opportunity to turn down after his appointment as the new Cliftonville manager was made official last night.
The 39 year-old resigned from his position as manager of Institute where he spent the last 18 months, to take the reins at the north Belfast club, taking with him his backroom team of Brian Donaghy and Conleth McCrudden.
He led ‘Stute to the Bluefin Championship title and promotion to the Danske Bank Premiership in his first managerial role and leaves the club with safety all but guaranteed as they currently sit in seventh position.
Speaking at last night’s press conference to unveil him as the new Red boss, McLaughlin said he’s excited about the opportunity and believes the club has huge potential.
With the likes of Rory Donnelly and Joe Gormley, not to mention new signings, ex-Institute players Niall Grace and Aaron Harkin to work with, McLaughlin believes he can help bring success to the club as they go in search of European qualification.
“As a player, a coach and a manager, it was a big decision for me to move on but it’s a fantastic opportunity to work with one of the biggest clubs in the country and some of the best players in the division,” he said. “So it was too good an opportunity to turn down. Cliftonville are a massive club and have huge potential and, like I said, some of the players in the dressing room are as good as you’ll get in the whole of Ireland.
“That was a massive incentive for me in deciding to move on from Institute and come to such a massive club.
“I believe I have a passion for what I do and if I can instil that in these players - a bit of passion for the club and passion for winning games then hopefully it will work well.”
It’s straight down to business for McLaughlin who will take charge of the Reds’ home clash with second from bottom, Newry City as he looks to do his old club, Institute a favour and put further distance between the two clubs.
He said: “It’s nice to be welcomed to the football club but we want to get straight down to work once we get the pleasantries out of the way. We’ll try and climb as high up the table as we can. Up until now they’ve done well enough but they could probably do better. That’s the target, to climb as many places as we can until the end of the season.”
McLaughlin explained his reasons behind taking his backroom team with him having installed Donaghy, who made 53 appearances for the Reds between 1998-2000 as his assistant boss.
“That was massively important,” he said. “We come as a team. We’ve worked well as a team over the last 18 months so it was vitally important for me to convince them to come along with me and I’m delighted to have them on board. Over the coming weeks we’ll work as hard as we can to improve. We’re not here on holiday mode, it’s important we get back to winning ways.”
Chairman Gerard Lawlor, who was also part of the evaluation procedure, explained: “I’m very pleased to welcome Paddy McLaughlin to Cliftonville and look forward to the team and club realising their potential under his guidance. Paddy has won a string of admirers across the Irish League, not only for the superb job he has done at Institute, but also the strong leadership qualities he displayed during both his playing career and since moving into coaching and management.”