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Decadent: The Managers

When Paddy McLaughlin was unveiled as Cliftonville Manager on February 4 this year, he became the Club’s 28th full-time boss – and fifth of the decade.

Concluding our mini-series of reflections on the Reds’ record between 2010-2019, today reflects on the men in the dugout and the trophies that have taken up residence in the Solitude boardroom.

Having been at the helm since 2005, it was Eddie Patterson who led the Reds into the decade and, following his departure towards the end of the 2010/11 season, the late, great Tommy Breslin took temporary charge ahead of his appointment heralding the most successful era in the history of Ireland’s Oldest Football Club.

The first of eight trophies collected during his tenure came when Glentoran were beaten 2-1 in the County Antrim Shield Final in November 2011, while the League Cup success of January 13 provided the catalyst for the Danske Bank Premiership title which would follow a few months later.

Both of those trophies were won again the following term – the League Cup triumph over Crusaders in 2014 being the first time the Reds had successfully defended an honour since the Belfast Charities Cup wins in 1908 and 1909 – with the Charity Shield also pocketed before the County Antrim Shield and League Cup were each picked up again during a memorable 11-day spell in January 2015.

Breslin (pictured) had moved on to be replaced by Gerard Lyttle by the time Cliftonville clinched a record-breaking fourth consecutive League Cup in early 2016 – with current incumbent McLaughlin hoping to conclude the ongoing four-year stint without silverware when he leads his team into next month’s Shield decider with Ballymena United.

After Mal Donaghy and George McMullan briefly took charge of team affairs in the aftermath of Lyttle’s move to Sligo Rovers in April 2017, Breslin returned to the role to oversee the final two games of a disappointing season.

Barry Gray’s was the next name on the Manager’s Office door and, though his tenure did not yield any trophies, he joined Breslin in guiding the team to an Irish Cup Final and also secured coveted European qualification during his one full campaign at the helm.

Michael Press – who had previously enjoyed a hugely successful spell as boss of Cliftonville Olympic – took charge of a single game early last year prior to McLaughlin’s arrival from Institute.

While Paddy became the first ever Reds gaffer to pick up a yellow card when he was booked in the recent Danske Bank Premiership encounter with Linfield at Windsor Park, he joins Gray in being the only two of the decade’s five Managers not to have been dismissed from the touchline – with a total of 41 players having been sent off during the same period.

Outside of the recognised senior honours, Cliftonville also laid claim to four Bob Larmour Memorial Cup successes courtesy of pre-season victories over Banbridge Town, while the Ladbrokes Supporters Cup took up residence in the Solitude trophy cabinet after the Reds saw off FC United of Manchester, Stirling Albion and Swansea City between 2010-2012.

2005-2011: Eddie Patterson
2011-2015: Tommy Breslin
2015-2017: Gerard Lyttle
2017: Mal Donaghy and George McMullan (Caretakers)
2017: Tommy Breslin (Caretaker)
2017-2019: Barry Gray
2019: Michael Press (Caretaker)
2019-Present: Paddy McLaughlin

Premiership: 2013, 2014
League Cup: 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016
County Antrim Shield: 2011, 2015
Charity Shield: 2014
Ladbrokes Supporters Cup: 2010, 2011, 2012
Bob Larmour Memorial Cup: 2010, 2011, 2012, 2014