Dunfermline Athletic

Fridays are tough for Stevie

Wednesday, 28th Oct 2020

27/10/20: SC - news they don’t want to hear - ‘Look you are going to be disappointed, I am not starting you this week’

Dunfermline manager Stevie Crawford has revealed that he finds it tough telling players that they are not starting but stresses that in a team game, those coming off the bench to finish the job can be the most important to him. Kevin O’Hara made a dramatic appearance coming off the bench midway through the second half away to Alloa on Saturday and his manager says:-

“I never envisaged putting him on and then scoring with his first touch of the ball. I knew by his reaction when I spoke to him on the Friday that he was disappointed but a big part in trying to sign Kevin was the way that I saw him as a person.

“I think everybody saw that he was hurting but at the same time he has gone out and proved it on the pitch. Not because of his hattrick, he could have gone on and possibly not scored.

“I knew he was hurting, as was Fraser Murray when we left him out after the Kilmarnock game, but I just think that we have attacking options that we need to use to get the best out of them on a weekly basis. If that means sometimes boys are going to miss out then so be it because it is great competition that we have got at the club now.”

Stevie is pleased that the reaction so far from dropped players remains very positive especially when they have prepared all week for a match on Saturday only to be let down on a Friday when setplays and shape are worked on without them.

“It is a manager’s nightmare because if you are going to make a couple of changes, the worst thing that you can do is not to tell the player before you name the team.

“It is always hard as a player if you have played the previous week. It is avoiding the embarrassment that they know before you tell the boys. I want to treat my players right to the extent that I have even spoken to them this year during pre season and told them that I am just going to name the team on a Friday - ‘if you are not in it, come and chap the door on a Monday and I will explain my reasons’ - but I can’t do it.

“Jason and Greg have told me that it is not that I am going out of my way to upset players. I spoke to Kevin on Friday before I named the team and I went and spoke to Kyle (Turner) on Friday before I named the team.”

The previous week it had been Cammy Gill and Fraser Murray who had to receive the news that nobody wants to hear. Stevie continued:-

“You don’t need to go into any depth, it is just giving them their place. ‘Look you are going to be disappointed, I am not starting you this week’ and then it is out of the way. I could tell looking in the eyes of Kevin and Kyle that they were hurting but then look at the performance and the energy that both them brought to the team when we needed it.

“It will maybe not be Kevin and Kyle in weeks to come. I think that you eventually get it back from the players because we now have a squad that is going to be challenging at the top end of the league. If you are down the bottom end chopping and changing or leaving boys out, that is when the difficulties come because they lose belief in the focus and objective of what you are trying to do at the club.

“It has been very pleasing and that is a credit to the character traits of the boys that we have signed at the club.”

The gaffer is convinced that the side that finishes a match should feel as valued as the team that starts and that is not patronising a player.

“Kevin O’Hara played against Inverness the week before and came off maybe an hour into the game. Then with a couple of changes that we make it is seen that they have brought the game to life when really the work that Kevin has had a big part in doing earlier tires the opposition out.

“What happened on Saturday there, boys who had done a lot of the ‘donkey’ work in the earlier part of the game allowed Kevin and Kyle to come on with fresh impetus. They have brought the game alive and given the boys that spark.

“In modern day sport and team games it is equally important that the eleven finishers allow you to go on and possibly win games or at least take a point from a game when the going gets tough.”

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