Dunfermline Athletic

Dunfermline is great shakes for Stevie

Friday, 26th Oct 2018

“Whatever happens in the future will happen but my personal feelings for this club definitely made it easier for me to turn round to the chairman and say that I was going to honour his handshake.

When Dunfermline face Dundee United on Saturday Stevie Crawford will be able to welcome new United boss, Robbie Neilson to East End Park. The two know each other very well, especially when working together as the management team at Falkirk from October 2011, at Hearts from May 2014 and at MK Dons from December 2014 through to January 2016.

Stevie spoke about their times together and started by saying how pleased he was that after eight or nine months out of the game, Robbie has managed to find himself at a club like Dundee United.

“He is a hard worker, an honest boy and that is what he will demand from his players. I am really happy for him.

“I enjoyed working with him, beside him, for him. He is a great boy but come Saturday though we won’t be head to head in the dugout my responsibility is to watch the game from the main stand and see if there is anything that I can pick up that can maybe help the gaffer and Sandy (Clark) in the slightest wee bit.

“I am desperate that we get three points on Saturday and when there is a phone call between us on Saturday night or on Sunday, maybe I have got that edge on him!”

Everyone expected Robbie Neilson to be back in a management role before too long and Stevie agreed that his former management partner was intelligent and prepared for when an opportunity like Dundee United came along.

“He will not be any different in terms of the work he puts into the job, what he demands from the players, what he demands from his coaches and what he demands from himself. I think a club like Dundee United is a good fit for him. Robbie will have a lot of drive and ambition. He will have reflected on things we did at Hearts and what we did at MK and he will be better for it.”

On Robbie Neilson’s appointment at Tannadice there were understandably questions about the partnership with Stevie Crawford resuming. The Pars coach explained his view of that suggestion:-

“Robbie was probably keen for me to try and join up with him but he was understanding because even after I joined Dunfermline there was regular communication with each other. It was not just a working arrangement but a friendship was built on that. So he knew my situation at the club.

“When I joined (Dunfermline) I said that one of my responsibilities when John (Potter) moved down to Sunderland, after speaking to the chairman one of the big decisions that I had to make was committing as a minimum for the season. It would not be fair to the kids first and foremost so I felt that it was right to see that out at Dunfermline.

“People then add two and two and says ‘is Stevie going to leave at the end of the season?’ Football is football and you never know what is going to happen.

“I loved working with Robbie but I am enjoying my role at Dunfermline at the moment and that will be 100% my focus. Whatever happens in the future will happen but my personal feelings for this club definitely made it easier for me to turn round to the chairman and say that I was going to honour his handshake.

“Robbie possibly wanted me to go and work with him but it wasn’t like it was a done deal or anything like that. It is not all my handshake, I came to be involved in coaching and management side. I am doing my Pro licence at the moment and when I shook Ross (McArthur)’s hand, I know something could happen tomorrow that the handshake is broken, but when I looked Ross in the eye what he was trying to do here was the right thing. It was my duty to make sure I committed for those kids.”

Stevie enjoyed working with Robbie, “he asked the question and moved on from it. He knew my answer anyway and said in a back handed complimentary way that is why he liked me being his right hand man. He had that trust in me.

“The friendship is still there. Football being the game that it is, you never know what is going to happen in six months, a year, three years time. I am enjoying my role, I have really strong feelings for the club and Allan, Sandy and the chairman have been great since I came.”

Given the past working relationship, did Stevie have any insider information to pass on to his Pars management team?

“He will be trying to build on them winning down at Partick. They drew last week against Inverness and he will be wanting to keep that run going.

“Knowing Robbie and the way that was when he played at Hearts, Robbie is a winner through and through. You don’t play at Tynecastle for that amount of time without knowing how to grind out a result. That is a massive quality that he has got.

“We all talk about football in a way that on your day it is nice to win games and absolutely dominate teams. If they come down on Saturday and it is a tight game going into the last twenty minutes, Robbie will get his team to go that extra wee bit.

“That is nothing that Allan and Sandy don’t know if they have done their homework on him without my contribution. It is a great game for us, our boys will be up for it after the disappointment against Queen of the South last week and it is a good one for us. Our fans will get right behind us if they see us getting in about Dundee United and a chance to then catch up with them and nearer the play off positions.”

Given the difficulties in scoring at Dunfermline had Stevie, a scorer of 82 goals in 260 Dunfermline appearances given the strikers any tips?

“The responsibility there lies in part with the coaching team. I am not going to hide from that. Allan and Sandy likewise have no magic wand. Having played as a striker the only advice that you can continue giving boys, who all have different qualities - they are different types of finishers - just be brave enough to keep getting yourselves in those kind of positions.

“There is a responsibility on the strikers yes, to score goals and attacking midfield players to score goals and make chances. Equally if you look at our goals against record at the moment, it has got better since we went to a back four. As a team we look more solid but what it has done, is have an effect on the opportunities that we are getting at the other end of the pitch.

“It is easy for a striker to say ‘by the way, I am not getting chances. He is not putting in crosses. The defence aren’t getting passes up to us’. You just have to stay strong and be a good team player. Make sure that you get yourself into the box. If that ball goes across the face of goal and you think I should have made that run, that is when you are in trouble.”

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