Dunfermline Athletic

In with the new

Friday, 31st Dec 2021

“My whole focus in coming in here has been on what I know needs done. I am really trying to concentrate on what I have got and get the best out of these guys.

Pars manager John Hughes is not one to reveal his team selections ahead of matches but he made it clear that his new signing is very likely to feature in the Fife Derby come Sunday:-

“Steven Lawless will need to be in the starting eleven. When he came in on Monday to do his medical and fitness tests, his running stats and numbers were right up there. All credit to him for looking after himself while training at Livingston.

“He has that wee ‘see you later’ which to my amusement, he can have a bit of fun with the defender that he is doing it to. He is a good player and he is right in amongst it. He has a sweet left foot and hopefully he will be a big player from now until the end of the season.”

John Hughes has experienced the atmosphere of a Fife derby before but from the other side. He was the Rovers manager back in April 2017 when Dunfermline registered a 1-0 win in front of 4865 fans at East End Park so he stressed the disappointment of there not going to be a crowd there for the derby game:-

“I think the game deserves a crowd. I have so much respect for Raith Rovers having managed there although it was one of the biggest disappointments in my career. It really hurt when they got relegated.

“I am old school feeling that supporters should support the local club in their community. That’s what I call real supporters. It easy to jump on a bus and go and watch the Old Firm and be that kind of glory hunter. They are a well supported club Raith Rovers and I have great respect for the job that John McGlynn has done.

“I know that they have signed Sam Stanton, he was one that I tried to sign when I was up at Ross County but he decided to go to Ireland. Raith Rovers look like they are in a right good place. We know what we are up against, I have seen them two or three times this year - I saw them against Celtic and against Inverness and I have been very impressed.

“It is going to be a difficult match but every game in this league is difficult. They are all different styles and different kind of players but we need to be more resolute than we were against Arbroath. Although the luck went against us we need to start being more determined to keep a clean sheet.

“I thought that I had rectified that over the last few weeks but when you look back at the numbers against Queen of the South and Arbroath, it is not acceptable so hopefully we can work on the training pitch to put that right and implement it against Raith Rovers.”

It is a well repeated opinion that form and league positions don’t matter when it comes to a derby. It will be fourth v ninth on Sunday afternoon but Hughes reflected on how competitive the Championship is always regarded:-

“Right through the Championship - Kilmarnock drew with Morton on Wednesday night and Ayr United got a good win over Raith Rovers as well. I think every team on their day is capable of beating each other. That is why it is wide open and if you ask me who is going to win it, I couldn’t tell you.”

After being manager of Falkirk, Hibs, Livingston and Inverness Caley Thistle, John Hughes was appointed Raith Rovers manager in February 2017. The club finished ninth in the Championship, and were relegated to League One after they lost in the play-offs to Brechin City. John Hughes and his assistant Kevin McBride then left the club, he recalled:-

“I got the job at Raith Rovers because of their results and it was my job to go in there to try and turn it around. It hurts, I am a very proud man and no matter which club that I’m at, I give it my best shot.

“There were a lot of good players at Raith Rovers and I have never hidden the fact, that I take full responsibility and that maybe let everyone else off the hook but I was the manager. There were a couple of things that could have been better but we were riddled with injury and the window was closed so you couldn’t get one or two players in to help them. Raith Rovers have got themselves in a good place and I’m absolutely delighted for them.”

The January transfer window is just opening and thirty year old Steven Lawless is John Hughes first signing. Everyone is watching to see what other business the Pars gaffer will do:-

“It is not easy, you think that you are close to one or two but then you get a spanner in the works. The agent gets involved, I’d like to have one or two in but I wouldn’t count my chickens.

“My whole focus in coming in here has been on what I know needs done. I am really trying to concentrate on what I have got and get the best out of these guys. I have seen them playing some right good stuff and taking the game to teams. We need to do that with more consistency.

“We need to do it against Raith Rovers, they are a good footballing side, they have a lot going for them. Come the end of the season they will be there or thereabouts for promotion.”

Asked if there would be many outgoings, John replied:-

“Initially, no and that is all credit to the Board of Directors for saying that they are not going to put that stranglehold on you if one or two had to go out. We have brought Steven Lawless in and there is probably room for another one maybe two and then after that we are spinning the plates.

“There are plenty phone calls coming and going and it is all a matter of timing. It is part of a manager’s job. I am working more at night to see who is or is not available. There has to be an understanding of where we are in the Scottish Championship that we are fighting for our lives and some players will not want to come in to that battle.

“Some players see themselves maybe in the top half of the Championship, in the SPL or in the leagues in England. It is my job to try to convince them and twist their arm to come here. ‘It is a great club and we need your hand’ to take us where we want to go.

“I am very very lucky to be working with my chairman and the two of us are in constant dialogue. Everybody wants the best team for their club and it is important that we just don’t roll over and get our bellies tickled, we are not here to do anybody favours, we try to do the best that we can for Dunfermline. If me and the chairman feel that it is the right decision, the best for Dunfermline, then we will do it.”

08/04/17: Dunfermline 1 Raith Rovers 0

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