Caretaker-boss Joe aiming to steady ship at United

AS Ballymena United begin the task of finding a new manager, the man entrusted with looking after the first team in the interim period is aiming to steer the Sky Blues to some positive results over the festive period.

Tuesday, 20th December 2011, 9:49 am

Joe McCall has been named as caretaker manager following Roy Walker’s resignation last week, after three-and-a-half years in charge at the Showgrounds.

But Ahoghill man McCall, a former assistant to Kenny Shiels, has already intimated that he will not be throwing his hat into the ring for the vacant position.

“When the position has been filled, I will help that person with any advice they need and then I will return to my position as Head of Youth Development within the Youth Academy,” McCall confirmed to Times Sport.

“In the meantime, the most important thing is for the club to try to put some points on the board over the Christmas period.”

That sequence of matches starts tonight (Tuesday) as United travel to Stangmore Park to take on Dungannon Swifts in the Carling Premiership (7.45pm).

That is followed by the annual Boxing Day ‘derby’ meeting with rivals Coleraine which takes place at the Ballycastle Road Showgrounds next Monday (3pm).

“They are two really tough away fixtures – Dungannon will be wanting to get a first win for their new manager Rodney McAree and they always give us a difficult game down there.

“As for Boxing Day, we’ve produced two of our most disappointing performances this season in the two games against Coleraine so the players will be anxious to perform better for the supporters this time around – it’s always a massive game.”

With Saturday’s match against Glentoran called off due to icy conditions in the immediate vicinity of the Showgrounds complex, McCall gathered the players together for indoor training.

“It was disappointing not to get started but it allowed us all to regroup and I was very pleased with the players’ attitude and application.

“For me personally, I’m going into this with my eyes wide open – I want to do well for the club and the players want to do well, too,” added McCall.

The timing of Walker’s departure is not ideal in terms of getting a new manager into post as quickly as possible, with Christmas holidays holding up the process.

The club has advertised for a new manager or player/manager and the process should begin in earnest when applications close tomorrow (Wednesday) at 5pm.

Chairman Robert Cupples said the matter will be discussed further at a Board meeting but has given his backing to McCall, who will be assisted by Colin Sewell, who was first team coach under the Walker regime.

“Joe knows the club inside out and Colin has been at the club for several years so we’re in safe hands.

“I have asked all the players to be united and I would ask the fans to get behind the team, they way they did in the match against Crusaders last week,” added Robert.