Healy wants to banish bad memories and complete 'full house' of medals

David Healy replaced Warren Feeney as Linfield boss in 2015
David Healy replaced Warren Feeney as Linfield boss in 2015
Bet McLean League Cup Final: Ballymena United v Linfield
Venue: Windsor Park, Belfast Date: Saturday, 16 February Kick-off: 17:30 GMT
Coverage: Live commentary on BBC Radio Ulster; report and highlights on BBC Sport website

David Healy got off to a bad start with the League Cup.

The night he was introduced to the Windsor Park crowd as Linfield manager in October 2015, he watched on from the stands as his new players suffered a shock third-round defeat by Ballinamallard United.

The Blues didn't fare much better the following year, hammered 4-1 away to Ballymena United in the same round, while last season they made it to the quarter-finals before going out to Crusaders.

It leaves the League Cup as the only piece of silverware missing from Healy's medal collection as Linfield boss - something he is determined to put right in Saturday's final against Ballymena United at Windsor Park.

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'It's not about beating Linfield' - Jeffrey seeking more League Cup glory for Ballymena

"The League Cup has certainly not been too kind to me as a manager," said the former Fulham and Rangers striker, who remembers that introductory defeat by the Mallards clearly.

"There are quite a few boys in the dressing room who have been at the club for a number of years, but Jamie Mulgrew is the only player with a League Cup winner's medal.

"I wouldn't say it makes this cup final more significant, but it's certainly one that I'd love to win - it'd be nice to have the full house of medals."

'The pressure's on to win games, not trophies'

Healy was relaxed as he spoke to media ahead of the cup final
Healy was relaxed as he spoke to the media ahead of the cup final

While Linfield hold the record for the most League Cup victories, with nine in the competition's 32-year history, it is 11 years since they have reached a final.

"You have to go back 11 years to when Glenn Ferguson came off the bench to score two dramatic late goals to beat Crusaders," Healy recalled.

Given how aware he is of the history, does Northern Ireland's record goalscorer feel any extra pressure to win the trophy?

"It isn't pressure to win trophies at Linfield - it's pressure to win games," he explained.

"The size of the game doesn't really matter, every time you pull the shirt on for Linfield you're expected to win the game.

"Pressure is pressure. You get used to it as a manager and it helps that we have players in the dressing room who understand 'the Linfield way' as people call it."

Chance for players to 'create own history'

The Linfield boss has praised his players for their recent performances
The Linfield boss has praised his players for their recent performances

While Healy insists he will not be adding extra pressure on to his players' shoulders, he did stress that his squad have a chance to etch their names further into the club's history books.

"Everybody talks about the great Linfield teams of old and the legends and whatever else.

"But I keep asking this group of players if they can go and make their own piece of history, and they are certainly more than capable of that.

"They have been immense for me right from when they walked through the door for pre-season. We all took a bit of criticism for how we performed last season, and rightly so, but we have responded well so far."

To create that history, they will have to improve on what Healy describes as a "50-50 record" in cup finals during his reign.

"We always talk in the dressing room about how you don't get any second chances in cup football," Healy revealed.

"We lost to Ballymena in the Co Antrim Shield final in my first season, but we've also won an Irish Cup final at Windsor, so we know what it takes."

Total respect for Jeffrey 'The Godfather'

Healy will go up against former Linfield boss David Jeffrey in Saturday's final
Healy will go up against former Linfield boss David Jeffrey in Saturday's final

One of the most intriguing sub-plots to Saturday's League Cup final is former Linfield captain and manager David Jeffrey leading a team against the Blues in a cup final for the first time.

If Healy is at all daunted at the prospect of going head-to-head with a man who won 31 trophies during 17 years in the Windsor Park dug-out, he isn't showing it. Indeed, the boyhood Linfield fan was happy to reflect on Jeffrey's mammoth contribution to the club.

"David's a legend at this football club and rightly so, given the amount of success. trophies and authority he brought to Linfield," the 39-year-old remarked.

"He's the Godfather, the most experienced manager in the league and is warmly appreciated by the Linfield fans.

"But that won't make it any more significant in this final, it certainly won't for me personally. We'd be wanting to win no matter who the Ballymena manager was."

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