One of the favourites of all the habitually-used football managers’ clichés is that the league table doesn’t lie. That may be true, but it can distort the picture because, despite producing their best two results of the season, Larne have dropped to the foot of the Championship 1 table for the first time.
But, as much as he doesn’t like his side occupying bottom spot, Inver manager Graham McConnell is satisfied his own team is finally showing that, on the pitch, they are heading in the right direction.
There’s not a solitary Larne supporter who would have declined four points from their last two outings before the games. And it’s an absolute certainty that none of them would have believed their team would be propping up the table if they had achieved that target.
The reason behind Larne’s slide is that Tobermore United have suddenly discovered rich vein of form, with shock victories over Carrick Rangers and Bangor - a mini-run which has coincided with the resurgence of McConnell’s men.
“I told the players on Saturday after hearing their (Tobermore’s) result that we can’t control what others do, so we can just be content with what we have done ourselves,” said McConnell.
“I am not very happy at all, if I am telling the truth because when I took over six weeks ago, we were one from bottom and now we are bottom. That’s not where I want us to be. I don’t like lifting the papers and see us down there. But... I am content with the last two performances and I believe we are turning the corner a wee bit, even though there is still a long way to go.”
This Saturday it’s a six-pointer as Larne travel to face fellow strugglers Tobermore.
“It’s a huge tie,” admitted McConnell. “It’s three big league points on offer. They have beaten Carrick (4-3) and Bangor (3-1), so that suggests our defence is going to have to be up to the mark. But we haven’t conceded a goal from open play in our last two games; Saturday’s equaliser was the result of a harsh penalty.
“This weekend, for the first time since I got the job, I will have to pick the team. Until now a combination of injuries, work commitments or suspensions has meant the side virtually picked itself. But now I have a full squad to choose from and I must get my thinking cap on.
“It’s a bit of a luxury for me and it’s exactly how any manager wants it to be – a great position for the club to be in, although the players not selected might not quite view it that way.”
McConnell also called on the club’s fans to give their backing to a special match taking place at Inver on Sunday (2pm) in memory of former Larne Olympic player-coach Gary Critchley, who passed away last year.
“I’d appeal to the supporters to come along as all the proceeds will go to the PIPS Project,” said McConnell.