Ballymena United: We have to put form in perspective - David Jeffrey

Steven McCullough and Andy McGrory celebrate
Ballymena's last victory in the league was a 2-1 win at home to Cliftonville at the end of September

Ballymena United manager David Jeffrey has called on players to "batten down the hatches and work harder than ever" after a disappointing run of form.

The Sky Blues, who finished second in the Irish Premiership last season, have not won a league game since September.

"This is a difficult time, but we have to put it in perspective," said Jeffrey on Sportsound Extra Time.

"If you put this little run up against what we have achieved so far, then there is always a way out."

After a winless run in the league which stretches back 11 games to the last weekend in September, Ballymena languish in eighth place in the table.

Jeffrey's outfit were also knocked out of the League Cup by Crusaders, however reaching the County Antrim Shield final does give a ray of optimism around the Showgrounds.

"Brian and I, since we moved to Ballymena, have been very blessed and we have enjoyed much success," added Jeffrey.

"A lot of it has gone very, very well and the answer for our difficult times is very simple, it's down to player unavailability and injury.

"It is a challenging period but when you are down and you are facing tough times, that's when you find out most about yourself and most about other people.

"Every time we take a training session or go to a game we want to give it our best.

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"Ballymena had a difficult run when we came into the club and we've built our success thus far on giving young men an opportunity they wouldn't get at the clubs they were already at.

"We promised that we would give them our best and look after them as if they were our own boys.

"Up until now, they have done tremendously well and progress has been made."

"You batten down the hatches and you work harder than ever. Brain and I will both be there until the folk at Ballymena no longer think that we are the right men for the job."

Criticism is fine, abuse is wrong

After the success of last season, Jeffrey admits he understands frustrations from supporters but has urged them to get behind his team.

"We know that criticism is part and parcel of the game when things are not going as you would like," said Jeffrey.

"When people have paid their money then they have the right to be critical when performances aren't up to standard.

"It isn't nice. I have been at the end of much abuse, from when I played to when I managed at Linfield.

David Jeffrey
David Jeffrey guided the Sky Blues to a best-ever league finish of second last season

"We're now at a stage where we have to have zero tolerance. Criticism is fine, abuse is wrong.

"The reason behind us not doing well isn't about the players not working hard or giving their best, it's just the situation where we haven't had a settled team.

"If you go back to the start of June. We got through the first round of Europe, which has never been done at Ballymena, and our season started well.

"But since then, we have had this incessant run of injuries which have led to frustrating and disappointing performances.

"We promised ourselves that we would give our best for Ballymena at all times."

Listen again to Sportsound Extra Time with Nikki Gregg, David Jeffrey, Marcell Coetzee and Daniel Hughes.