Coleraine: Past and present together as Rodney McAree tackles old club Dungannon Swifts under new manager Kris Lindsay
Rodney McAree has experienced every conceivable vantage point of life for Dungannon Swifts - but Saturday's fixture list presents a fresh perspective.
Family ties left McAree a fixture around the Stangmore Park clubhouse from childhood before going on to play and manage his local club.
Now he takes on the team as opposition manager for the first time when the Swifts visit Coleraine. Between the first and final whistles on Saturday there will be no room for sentiment from McAree in pursuit of points for Coleraine.
Inconsistency has disrupted his early progress with the Bannsiders since swapping familiar territory for the Coleraine challenge. And McAree identifies similarities in his initial work with both clubs, alongside the contrasts.
“At Dungannon it was about staying in the top flight but with Coleraine we aim to be competing for the major honours,” said McAree. “However, when I started ut at the Swifts it needed to be built up again by lifting players and working hard over a transitional period.
“That is similar to what we now face at Coleraine, so experience helps but we realise key here will be achieving consistency.
“That comes from competition for places, either due to players returning from injury or additions, on top of the step-by-step work on the training pitch and in games until the ideas click.”
The lifelong links between the McAree family and Dungannon may serve as a backdrop but current Swifts boss Kris Lindsay only has his focus on the future.
Lindsay stepped up from a Glenavon coaching role into the Dungannon manager’s hot-seat in September following McAree’s departure.
A forward-thinking approach has produced positive progress by the first-time boss and, as he prepares for a first transfer window in management, Lindsay is keen to build on early foundations.
“It is a busy time of the season due to the run of games and transfer window so you continue to assess your existing players in training and games, plus aim to identify talent to improve and implement your ideas,” said Lindsay, who last night celebrated extended deals for Chris Hegarty and Seanan Clucas. “It’s never personal when it comes down to these decisions but you have to make them to move the club forward and, ideally, you aim to hit January looking to freshen up a squad having gained momentum with the right results.
“Since I’ve come in, everyone has worked hard to integrate an approach so you have the benefits of that close-hand view of how players have adapted to the system and situations.
“This is about securing existing players to fresh terms or building around some who maybe have surprised you, on top of adding others capable of delivering.
“Ultimately, we need to get results right on the pitch and for games like facing Coleraine it comes down to knowing your limitations and planning for the opposition but also showing confidence to cause problems.
“One win is obviously the same points return as three draws so you have to now be brave and go beyond a safety-first approach designed not to lose games.
“When I first came in it was about stabilising and early steps together but now is the time to really start pushing forward.”