Dunfermline Athletic

Assistant manager previews Airdrieonians

Thursday, 16th Feb 2023

16/02/23: DM - “We need to make sure that we are ready from the first minute which I am positive we will be.”

After James McPake gave his thoughts on Airdrieonians before and after last Saturday’s match it was his assistant Dave Mackay who gave his thoughts on this Saturday’s re-match.

“We have watched it back individually as a staff on the Sunday and we prepared a video to show the players on Monday. It was important to show them because it was so below standard. There was stuff that we saw within the game that was so unlike us. The first half especially and up to 50 minutes, to go down 3-0 and deservedly so, it was a mile off where we had been.”

Dave speculated whether it might have been an excellent performance from Airdrieonians that took them so far ahead before Dunfermline could respond but felt that there were other factors:-

“Airdrie were excellent, you have to give them credit for how they performed but a lot of it came down to our mistakes, not working hard enough and players not being in the right positions. We all take responsibility for it. As a staff we pick the team to go out there and perform and we certainly didn’t get it right.

“Thankfully we managed to turn the game around and normally when you do these sort of videos it is on the back of a defeat so it was actually a bit strange doing it on the back of a victory but I think that it’s a wake up call for everyone that we have a helluva lot of work still to do this season and we can’t get complacent.”

Earlier this season Dunfermline played back to back home games against Alloa Athletic and this weekend Airdrieonians are the opponents for the second fixture running. Dave Mackay warned that if his team turn up and play like they did for the first 50 minutes last weekend then they will lose but he is confident that won’t happen:-

“Airdrie are a very good team, they have good individuals, they work extremely hard and they are well drilled. You can see by way that the boys have trained this week that we have got right back into it, working on the things that we felt went wrong on Saturday and hopefully we will see a completely different team again.”

Dave Mackay and James McPake made five substitutions last Saturday and they all took the opportunity to perform well and make their case for a starting place. He continued:-

“Selection wise it has given us a bit of a headache. Sometimes you get lucky with substitutions but we just felt that things were going so wrong in that first half or first half hour. Even at 1-0 down it is probably unusual to make subs but we just felt that we had to do something to shake it all up a little bit.

“We then conceded five minutes later to go 2-0 down and go in at half time, made another substitution and changed the shape. Sometimes you get a little fortunate and obviously the red card helped us to an extent but the flip side of that is it is never easy playing against ten men. It can be difficult, teams just become defensive especially when you have a lead like Airdrie had to hold on to.

“I thought that we moved the ball much better, we played at a high tempo and it was night and day the performance when you compare the second half with the first. You get a little lucky, you are putting players on in the hope that it will change the flow of the game and the way that it was going. Thankfully on Saturday it happened to work.”

Ewan Otoo and Robbie Mahon were the first substitutions made after just 32 minutes and both made a significant difference. Dave accepted that it was a difficult one for Ewan to be thrown on when the team was playing as poorly:-

“It was our worst performance by a distance this season and very unlike us. Hard for Ewan to go on and try and build himself into a game at a new club. The first ten minutes or were probably difficult for him but he certainly grew into the game as it went on. He was shuffled back into defence and I thought that he had an excellent second half.

“Robbie is the player who can feel a little hard done by in terms of the minutes that he has had recently because he has trainings so well. A lot of that comes down to how the guys in front of him have been playing. They have been playing extremely well but Robbie came on and did himself no harm for this Saturday with his performance.”

The same could be said about Nikolay Todorov and Dave added:-

“Tody has been brilliant and he has been a little bit limited in terms of minutes but Craig Wighton has been in really good form recently. The way that we have been playing, we have been creating a lot of chances but Tody might have done himself a bit of harm because he has become more of an impact player. Every time he comes on he looks like scoring, he has chances or he does score a goal. Thankfully when you get a chance in the middle of the box, he is the one guy that you do want it to fall to. He took his chance really well.”

The assistant manager confirmed everyone had come through last week’s game unscathed and has a full squad to go into the game. In addition he had good news on Paul Allan:-

“We hope tomorrow goes fine and we are looking strong. Paul Allan trained today for the full session without any hiccups so it is great to have him back involved. Again it will take him a little bit of time to get up to speed in terms of match fitness and get a couple of good weeks training before he plays in potentially a reserve game. It is great to have him back and he fitted in today like he had never been away.

“He is a quality player and he has worked hard on his fitness as well, it is not just a case of being in the gym. Rory and the physios have done a great job with him to get him back looking in great shape.

“We have eighteen first team players available at the minute including Paul Allan and everyone of them is pushing each other. Nobody can get complacent and think that they are guaranteed places in the team because if we let our standards drop then we will make changes.”

Dave Mackay felt that if his side are going to earn the three points on Saturday they have to start the game much better:-

“Although in the first half we had a couple of really good chances and good passages of play in possession, the focus has been more on what we have done off the ball because Saturday was nowhere near good enough.

“We just hope that it was one of those days. Everybody seemed to have a bit of an off day and we were maybe a little bit spooked because it is the first time that we have really been a couple of goals behind in a game apart from at Montrose where it was late in the game. To happen early on, we looked a little bit spooked by that but again it shows great character to turn around and finally go and win that game and create that seven point gap again which we had lost a couple of weeks previous against Clyde.

“To be honest I don’t think that there is too much wrong, it genuinely was that we weren’t happy with the work rate. It seemed to dip below our standards. The work rate from the players all season has been incredible.

“Stats don’t lie but as much as it is important to look at stats from the GPS vests that they wear, I think sometimes that you can see just see it with the eye and we could tell early on that we just looked a little bit off it on Saturday. That can happen at times but Airdrie exposed that and really took advantage.

“If we start as sloppy and as slowly as we did last Saturday then Airdrie will win the game on Saturday. We need to make sure that we are ready from the first minute which I am positive we will be.”

Asked if there were signs of any further loans, Dave closed:-

“There is nothing imminent but that can change, we still have a couple of weeks or so to go with that. If the right one becomes available we will go with that and definitely try and bring someone in.

“We have a strong squad, we have got in terms of first team players excluding the younger kids who obviously help to bulk up that squad, we have eighteen outfield players that we feel are all genuine first team players. You can change as many of them as you like and there won’t be any drop in the standards.

“As we always say, we have to make sure that any ones that we do bring in have to improve us. We don’t want to bring in someone just to fill a jersey on the bench and not really make an impact. We need players who are either going to come in and either improve us or be at least at the same standard as what we have got.”

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