By Neil McKnight
Glebe Rangers have boldly appointed a new young gun manager to fire them to safety.
Following the resignation of under-pressure boss Gary Scott just over a week ago, Rangers moved quickly to install Peter Cairns in the managerial hotseat last Tuesday night.
The 31-year-old faces a difficult task as Glebe have endured a horrid time this season.
Rangers currently lie second bottom of the Belfast Telegraph Championship One following a string of poor results but produced an impressive 4-1 win over HW Welders on Saturday.
They were also booted out of the Steel & Sons Cup and penalised in the league for fielding an ineligible player earlier this season.
But in his first interview with the Times, Cairns insisted he is the right man to turn Glebe’s campaign around.
He also dismissed fears over his age and his lack of managerial experience at Championship level.
He said: “Youth is not a problem, it’s not a disadvantage – and I think I’ve enough to make it.”
Despite his tender years Cairns has a strong footballing pedigree and was with Swindon Town as youth team player when they were riding high in the mid-1990s.
He displayed his managerial credentials with Riada Rangers in the Coleraine and District League, winning a league title and reaching a cup final.
Undaunted by the league position in which he takes over at Glebe, Cairns declared that his first goal is survival.
He said: “I’m going to give it a shot to keep us in the division.
“I know it’s an old cliche but we’ll take it one game at a time, stop conceding goals and make the team hard to beat, make us tight at the back.
“The first part is to get points on the board – that’s the goal.
“Obviously with the position we are in it will be difficult but it’s our priority.”
He added: “My number one passion is football and hopefully I can transfer that to the players and I would like to think I can bring enough to the club.
“Championship One is competitive a good league, it’s going to be a tough task.”
Cairns was offered the Glebe post after coming out on top of a shortlist of six other candidates.
The new role adds to a busy workload for Cairns who is a part-time postman and is also studying criminology at Queen’s University.
He said: “I have a lot to juggle but I enjoy it, it keeps me busy.”
The Ballymoney man, who now lives in Castlehill, added: “I’m over the moon that I got the post, I’m getting to step up a level.”
For the last four seasons Cairns has been at the helm of Riada Rangers and two years ago the club won the Coleraine and District League premier division for the first time in the club’s history.
Last year the club also got to a cup final.
Having lost a few players in the summer to more senior sides, Riada currently lie in the bottom half of the table but have games in hand.
Cairns left Dalriada High at 16 and moved to England where he spent nearly three years at Swindon Town on a YTS scheme.
He returned home and following a few offers at top clubs he then donned the shirt of Ballymoney United.
However his playing career became plagued by injuries and then he turned to helping out with coaching at Riada where he later became manager.
Cairns was introduced to Glebe’s players after Saturday’s match against fellow strugglers HW Welders and officially takes over at training on Tuesday night.
He said he has watched Glebe a few times this season and believes there is enough quality in the side to move the club forward.
Cairns said: “What I’ve seen from Glebe, they are not far away. I saw them at the Riada winning 2-0 against Limavady and they ended up losing 3-2.”
Cairns does not yet know if he will make any changes to the coaching staff at Glebe and added: “I’m just going to see what we’ve got.”
In appointing their young manager Glebe have joined a growing trend of injecting fresh managerial blood into the game.
Jackie Morrison, Glebe Rangers secretary, said: “He’s young and ambitious and something we are looking for – someone who wants to cut their teeth in Championship football.
“He ticked all the boxes and I’m 100% confident he can revive the club.”
When asked if Cairns had been set any targets in his first season, Morrison replied: “We are not expecting miracles, all he needs to do is a steadying of the ship.
“The January transfer will help and we know there are players out there who are capable.
“He’s 31, young, but I think it’s the way forward.
“A lot of clubs have older managers but I think it’s the way forward is to give young managers, who are ambitious and looking forward, a challenge.”
John Donnell, club president, and Peter Tweed, assistant to Gary Scott, took charge of Saturday’s game and Morrison hopes that Tweed has a future at the club.
He added: “We hope Peter will stay in some capacity.”
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Glebe take apart Welders