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Belfast Live
Gareth Fullerton

'Wide awake' Glentoran moving in right direction as pundits predict title scrap

Jim Magilton believes Glentoran have woken from their slumber and helping deliver a red-hot title race this season.

Ali Pour's investment has catapulted the Glens back into contention for a first Premiership success since 2009.

Since Pour's arrival in 2019 the East Belfast club has cleared its debt, become fully professional and had a massive turnover in players.

Read more: Cliftonville's modest teen star praised for ice-cool finish in Shield shootout

An Irish Cup win followed in 2020 alongside successive European qualifications, but the one trophy that remains elusive is the Premiership crown.

On this week's That's What I Call Football podcast, former Northern Ireland midfielder Magilton, NI Under 17 and 19 boss Gerard Lyttle and Lisburn Distillery manager Barry Johnston assessed Pour's impact at the Oval, and how far the Glens can go this season.

Here's what they had to say...

Jim Magilton

"There have been massive changes since Ali Pour came in, and it's been for the better.

"Glentoran were slumbering for a few years, and they are a sleeping giant. I wouldn't even say they are sleeping to be honest, they are wide awake.

"Now they are competitive, and an Irish League needs a competitive Glentoran. One, because of the gates and what the fans bring to the part.

"And also because the league needs that competitive nature. The Linfields, Glentorans, Cliftonvilles, Crusaders, Larnes and others.

"It is always about the product, and if you are selling the product because it is worth watching and the quality is there, then an Irish League club could become an attractive proposition for another Ali Pour."

Gerard Lyttle

"You could argue that you have to define the success. Obviously investors have a plan in terms of when they put their money in and what they want back in terms of Europe and winning leagues and cups.

"Larne and Glentoran have both qualified for Europe in that 4-5 year plan. That would probably be the early goal for them, to get Europe as quickly as possible because you want a return in investment.

"But the ultimate goal will be to win the league and be up there every year, and winning Irish Cups. Glentoran are flying at the minute, and Larne are top of the league.

"So it will be an interesting season, and you can see one of those two teams maybe winning the league this season.

"And if they do, it might attract other investors into the Irish League."

Barry Johnston

"We saw last season how frustrated fans got with Mick McDermott after a couple of bad results. Two bad results for Glentoran is a nightmare scenario for fans. But they have to be realistic.

"The investment hasn't just been in new players. They have a new gym at the Oval and done inside the changing rooms. I went to the Oval with Distillery this season and I couldn't get over the work that had been done in the changing areas.

"They need to improve the pitch obviously, and there is a lot to be done. But they seem to be moving in the right direction and Ali Pour is putting his money where his mouth is.

"It is good for Glentoran and our league. The better the infrastructure, then when games are on TV the product looks better and it doesn't give people an excuse to criticise our league.

"The standard has gone up in our league with better technical players, and tactically games are set up differently now.

"It is moving along nicely, and Ali seems to be doing all the right things at Glentoran."


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