Former midfield genius Pat Fenlon admits he’s thrilled to be back at Linfield!
The 40-year-old was yesterday unveiled as the club’s first ever General Manager – a role that will hand the little Dubliner the responsibility of overseeing off-field activities at Windsor Park and the recently refurbished Midgley Park.
Fenlon was the fans’ favourite in his playing days in a blue shirt, being a League title and Irish Cup winner.
Having admitted his football management days are over – he was formerly in charge at Shamrock Rovers, Shelbourne and Bohemians along with Scottish side Hibernian – Fenlon is now tasked with challenge of leading the Blues into a new era, with full-time football the ultimate goal.
“It’s a new venture for me at club I know well. I’m excited by the challenge,” he said. “I’ve made the decision to step away from team management.
“I started managing when I was 32. I’ve been fortunate to have good jobs with great clubs – but I’ve now got a fantastic job.
“I’ll initially come in and see how the club works. I’ll then try to maximise what’s here now . . . what Linfield have here in terms of facilities is something no other club has in the whole of Ireland.
“It’s a fantastic opportunity for the club because the facilities here are fantastic. It’s important we maximise what is here and then see where we can develop the club – take it forward.
“I’ll obviously put a plan together with the Board to develop things on and off the pitch.”
Fenlon, who topped a total of 70 applicants for the post, will take up his new appointment next week with club’s financial development high on his agenda.
“Yes, the remit is to make the club financially lucrative – every football club wants to make money, that’s just the way it is,” he added. “But we’ll be putting structures in place in terms of where we want to take the club to.
“Sometimes clubs can be a bit ad-hoc the way things are done regarding reverting to full time football. So, it’s important to have a plan in place over a period of time.
“The development process is really important -- everything will go through the Board.
“We want to get fans back to football . . . we’ll be working on enhancing the match-day experience.
“The main people are the ones who come through the turnstile on a Saturday.
“We want to make the match-day experience better for them – we want to make it an enjoyable day out for the supporters.”
Fenlon, who will be on an open-contract, admits he’ll have no problems computing from his Dublin home on a daily basis.
“I’ll be starting early next week, I’ll travel every day – it’s not that far,” he smiled.
“When I was at Waterford, I travelled there every day. Windsor is probably a little bit closer because I live in the north side of Dublin.”
“When I managed in Scotland I had to travel to places like Ross County and Inverness, so it will not be a problem – it will not be an issue.”
Linfield chairman Roy McGivern admits it’s a great move for the club.
“The position of general manager is a key strategic appointment,” he said. “Pat’s extensive experience in football will be a great asset.
“He will be working closely with the Board to maximise the great facilities we have here at the club to hopefully strengthen our position in the local game.”