Dunfermline Athletic

Management team post Queen of the South

Saturday, 15th Apr 2023

14/04/23: link to audio of James McPake and Dave Mackay post match comments

- - Listen to this management team interview

Both James McPake and Dave Mackay spoke to the media after securing Championship football next season for Dunfermline Athletic. James claimed that despite all that was going on in celebration that he was “still pretty calm”:-

“I don`t think it`s sunk in. I`m just delighted for the players. I`m delighted to see them with their families out on the pitch after the game. I`m delighted with the performance. I thought it was excellent, against a Queen of the South team that were the form team in the league.”

Dave Mackay took it up there:-

“They`re the form team in the league. They`ve been the best team recently, so it was so important that we were right at it today, and it`s probably our best overall home performance this season. We`ve had some really good performances away from home but, today, it finally clicked for us and we got the goals that some of our play`s deserved over the season that we`ve not quite converted. We`re delighted to go out on a bang like that.”

You were right at Queen of the South from the kick off?

“It`s so important, and I don`t think we`ve done it enough here, to start games on the front foot. We allow teams to settle, then at times crowds become edgy when the oppositon maybe get a chance. It`s so important we came out, and it`s something we`ve tried to emphasise. We`ve done it a wee bit better recently but, today is probably the best we`ve done it.

“I think it`s probably a mistake from the Queen of the South captain to turn the team round and had us shooting into our own crowd, because I think it made a difference. Shooting towards our own end, we got a lot of pressure, a lot of corners, stuff like that. It gets the crowd right on top of everything and I think played into our hands as well a little bit, so thanks to him!”

How tough a job to lift club?

James answered:-

“Probably the answer everyone thinks I`m going to say is it was really tough, we had to do a lot of work to lift them, but we didn`t. It was really important, and I`m not just saying it because Dave`s standing here, but the club were very quick to act on that and get Dave out of Dundee. That was pivotal in what we were trying to do, and then the players came in, and I`d love to sound like a genius and say we did this, we did that, to turn their confidence around, but we just worked hard. It`s as simple as that. I genuinely do mean that. We got them in, we worked hard, it was a clean slate for everyone.

“Obviously we lost some players, I think it was six or seven that went from the team that got relegated, maybe more, but I made six or seven phone calls.
We got that. I knew a lot of the players, they were a good group, and we believe in what we do as a coaching staff or as a management team.
We believe in what we do.

“You hope, it`s probably that - you hope the players believe in what you do and follow what you`re doing. I think, on the other side of that, if they don`t do it, then we`d have moved them on anyway. We were very lucky with the group we got. We added some key additions in Kyle Benedictus, Chris Hamilton and then some loan players that came in. That`s been pretty easy. Then, what follows that, is the wins, which builds confidence, breeds confidence.

“When we first came in, and Dave will say the same, the boys were great. They were great to work with. In pre-season, the way we do it is very demanding, but they kept doing it. I think we won all our friendlies apart from Kilmarnock as well, so we went in with a standard that we wanted to start winning games, because that was lost the season before. We did that, and it`s ended, seven or eight months later with a league winner`s medal for every single player in there, so we`re delighted.

The manner of the win over Queen of the South tops it off?

“It is fitting of that team. There has been times when we have been criticised for our football and we can accept that off our own fans who pay to come in. What we can’t do is to accept that off other people because we work with the players every single day, we see all the hard work that goes into training. A Saturday is the bit that everybody else sees but we see what they have done since 13th June.

“It was important that one, we won the game - we wanted to win it in a wee bit of style and they did that. They excited the fans, they excited themselves and they excited both of us standing on the side watching it so we are delighted for them.”

It has been eluded that there has been some noise from other clubs but you guys have kept it in house but that’s a fairly emphatic message to send out across the whole season?

James left Dave to answer this one:-

“It comes down to the players. I think the players should have earned a bit more respect for what we have done this season. I think we are thirteen points clear at the minute with three games still to go. We have had about nineteen clean sheets, we are twenty one (league) games unbeaten but it just looks at times although we don’t look too far into it, but I don’t think the players in there get enough respect for what they have achieved this season.

“That’s fine if you want to go under the radar to do that and let other people do the talking but we just show on the pitch on a Saturday with our football and more often than not we have got it right this season.

“Over the whole we have been the better team. There have been teams who have played some good stuff like Airdrie who have hit some great runs. They have had a couple of blips but we have been consistent all season. When we have had a draw or two we have followed that up with a few wins. Over the piece defensively we have been outstanding. Going on such a long unbeaten run, different class but we want to keep it going, we have three games to go.

“We will enjoy ourselves for a couple of days but we want to make sure that we finish with three wins at the end of the season. We have a wee chance of breaking a club record in the amount of points as well. We can break a record with clean sheets and we want to go the rest of the season unbeaten so yes we will enjoy it but we don’t want to rest up yet, we have plenty of time to do that in the summer.”

Is there a chance for some of the fringe players to get some minutes?

“Yes, that’s important. You can only pick eleven players on a Saturday but every single one of them has played a massive part this season whether they have played one or two games, whether they have played every game, they have all been a part of it and that includes training sessions where they have raised the standards.

“They come in every day, nobody complains and when people find themselves out of the team at times they might think it a bit unfair, it possibly is but they never show that. They way they show that is by continuing to work hard and yes there is a chance for some players to get some minutes towards the end of the season. Obviously there are contracts coming up so it is important that we do see a couple of other players getting some game time. The benefit that we have got is that when we do make changes, I don’t think it weakens us as a team so we will certainly be taking the last three games seriously. It is an opportunity for a couple of players to get a game.”

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