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Belfast Live
Belfast Live
Gareth Fullerton

Paddy McLaughlin's Cliftonville remind former coach of Tommy Breslin's title winners

Gerard Lyttle says Paddy McLaughlin's high-flying Cliftonville remind him of the glory days under the late, great Tommy Breslin.

Legendary former boss Breslin guided the Reds to successive Premiership titles in 2013 and '14, with his team becoming revered for their fluid, attacking style of football.

They also knew how to win games with their game management, and Lyttle believes McLaughlin's Class of 2023 are showing similar traits of champions.

Read more: Stephen Baxter says star man will not be rushed back as holders progress in cup

Lyttle was part of Breslin's backroom team when they dominated the Irish League landscape for those back-to-back seasons.

And he believes the current squad housed at Solitude could end a decade of hurt by winning a first Gibson Cup since 2014.

He told Belfast Live's That's What I Call Football podcast: "I watched the game last week against Ballymena United. It is the first I have been at Solitude this year to Cliftonville them but I have watched them on TV.

"I was really impressed with them. Their performance, their game intelligence. How they played, and they completely dominated Ballymena who are a good team on paper.

"But Ballymena couldn't get near the Reds players. The interchanging between the midfield, the full-backs, the decision-making.

"Cliftonville even had Colin Coates stepping in, nearly as a left-back and high up the pitch. And comfortable in possession."

Cliftonville continue to lead the way in the Irish Premiership, sitting top of the table with 12 games remaining.

They finished runners-up last season, just one point behind eventual champions Linfield.

Lyttle believes they have the squad, and manager, to take them all the way this term, and emulate club legend Breslin.

Lyttle added: "The way Paddy had them set-up and how they played, I was really impressed, and it is as close as I have seen to Tommy's team. And that's taking nothing away from Paddy, Decky (O'Hara) or Marty (McCann).

"But in terms of performance and the levels, and the style of play, it was really pleasing to watch.

"Normally I would jump out 10-15 minutes before the end to beat the traffic, but I stayed on to watch because they were that good."


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