Manager Previews FC EdinburghThursday, 16th Mar 2023
16/03/23: JM- “There is still a really big carrot for them in terms of the playoffs and over the season they deserve to be where they are.
Reflecting on the postponement of last weekend’s game at Peterhead, manager James McPake said:-
“We are used to that particularly in the last couple of years with games being off, it is something that I’m pretty experienced with for a pretty inexperienced manager. Of course you want the game to go ahead, you prepare for the game, but such is life at times when the weather throws a curveball. We trained as normal.
“It is not a problem, the boys have been great. They have trained really well and they are used to games being off. In another season we could’ve had a free weekend anyway due to the Scottish Cup, they have been great.”
“The games against Edinburgh have been interesting to say the least. The one here was a really tough game. At Edinburgh particularly in the first one, we were excellent on the day and I thought were really good when we were last through there as well, although we only won one nil.
“They are still fighting for third place in the league. Maybe when Alan Maybury does look at the gap he will be thinking we might be too far away for them. But there is still a really big carrot for them in terms of the playoffs and over the season they deserve to be where they are.
“It is incredible really considering where they are after coming up. They had a fantastic start and I think in two of the three games we played against them, they could’ve gone top of the league as well. They are a dangerous side and they will be disappointed with their result last week against Alloa. They had two really good wins before that so they will be coming here hoping to get back on track.
The manager agreed that he enjoys the challenge provided when playing different teams and teams of different managers:-
“It’s not as much enjoy it, it is part of your job. I am very lucky here with the staff that I have got, they know everything about every other club and the way they play. You can work on a team all week and the game can be off or you can work on a team all week and they can come and be different. You need to be consistent and mainly focus on yourself. We know their dangers and where they can really hurt us, we need to stop that but ultimately it’s about what we do on the day.
“The players have been excellent recently, they have been excellent all season but performance wise recently, it has been really good. We are making chances creating goal scoring opportunities and our use of the ball has been excellent over the last four or five games. We want to continue that.
“We are at home, this will be our third home game in a row with the Peterhead game being off so we are delighted with that. We love playing here, we love having the crowd behind us and we can do that on Saturday by starting in the right way. That’s what we want to do.”
Big crowd at home
“They have been excellent, and I have spoken about that in my programme notes which I did today, whether it’s for four, five or 10,000 they are right behind us. That is credit to the players as I’ve said with what they do on the pitch and how hard they work. Supporters can get that, they can see that and that’s what they want.
“I have been a fan myself at football. You just want to see players coming out and giving everything for the football club. That is what this group has done in every single game whether it is a pre-season friendly, the Falkirk, game, Betfred Cup, Scottish Cup, SPFL Trust Trophy, it doesn’t matter what we are playing in or who are playing they just give everything. Supporters can relate to that, they want to see players on the pitch, just leaving nothing out there and we have a group that do that.”
Reserve League Cup
James was delighted to watch his reserve team defeat Queen of the South on Tuesday afternoon at Ainslie Park to progress into the final of the Reserve League Cup. He added:-
“It was a really good performance and it’s great for the young kids who have played in a lot of the group games and played really well to come through the group. All the way through it there has been senior players in it, and we use that, for that reason. It is a great learning curve for the younger ones to play like the other day alongside Paul McGowan who has over 500 career appearances, Paul Allan, who is the first team player, Kevin, Todorov. Ewan Otoo played so there was a good mix the other day. That is part of the development and it is a step up from under 18 level.
“When you see the attitudes of the senior players when they play in the reserves, you wouldn’t think it was a reserve game, but that is the culture here that is the drive for everybody because they are all playing either for a place in the team or to get fitness up after injury. I am delighted with their application, I wouldn’t be slow in telling them if they weren’t doing it because with Monty (Gary Montignani) and Shieldsie (Greg Shields) there they have got to go out and treat that like they would any first team again. They have certainly done that but the important thing is the development of the younger ones playing in that.
“We are delighted to be through it and it’s another game for us that will use in terms of minutes or who needs to play in it and it is the chance for the youngsters to go and play in a final which is great for them.”
“Aaron Comrie is back, Joe Chalmers trained and did a bit today, he will train again tomorrow and we will assess that rib later on in the week, other than that everybody is fit. It’s the first time I have been able to say that this season.
“It causes selection dreams! It is a team game, I don’t think anyone can complain apart from maybe wee Robbie Mahon. I keep going back to Robbie, he trained excellent today. Robbie will get a run because he is a really effective player. I think everybody has played and I think everybody has been left out.
“I have a player in Paul McGowan, who I rate very highly. I read this article, and I really don’t believe it, he says out of all his managers that I probably have left him out more than anybody. I think he got mixed up I played him more than anybody. Paul McGowan knows, a bit like Charlie Adam at Dundee, it doesn’t matter what are the player’s name is or what they’ve done done, we will pick a team that we believe can beat Edinburgh. It’s as simple as that.
“The important thing is that we have players in the side, who can come on and affect a game or help us see out a game, whatever it may be. When you look at Kevin O’Hara as well, he has been excellent, Lewis McCann has been excellent and at times they sit on the bench and at times they come on. Put it this way, no one is chapping my door saying they are not playing.”
Starting places are not guaranteed
“I think I said the other week, I want them to be disappointed because I’ve been a player and when you’re not playing you want to be in the team but now when we do look at it and we go over what myself and Dave have done at other clubs and in our coaching careers, you strip everything back and you look at it. We decided pretty early that we were going to pick a team that can win a game every week. I don’t think we have a best eleven. The best eleven is the eleven that we feel can play against Edinburgh and then next week when we play Montrose it will be a different eleven.
“I can say that because we picked the team on the Friday, it was a different eleven that was going to be playing against Peterhead, not the one that started against Falkirk after a great result. None of it was down to injury although Joe was injured. It wasn’t down to that Joe would’ve played had he not been injured, but there were four changes, including Joe that we were making that we decided to be a better option against Peterhead to get us a positive performance and result. We will continue with that and if people are unhappy, then they make me unhappy when they don’t win games so now they know how I feel.”
Buy in from players because they know the team can change from week to week based on the opponent. They still have the right attitude going into it?
“Thankfully for us here everyone has got a great attitude. I am not just saying that there has not been any mumping or moaning. I love that because they all want to play.
“Look at Breeny, he started the season brilliantly. He got an injury and Sam Fisher came in and it took Breeny a wee while to come in. Flip that when Sam came hoping to play coming from a team in the league above and played in the Premier League. He played in the Championship but couldn’t get into the Dunfermline team in League One. He kept working away that’s fine.
“A year ago I was picking Paul McGowan in the Premier League but since he has come here, he has not started a game. He moans a lot but he has never moaned about never playing. He just keeps working.
“I think they know that. It’s not been threatening or saying look at us as the coaching staff, it’s the way we were when we first came in. It is not laying it down to the players, it is just working hard in training every day. If you play five minutes you give everything that you’ve got, if you play 90 minutes you give everything that you have got.
“Lewis has scored important goals, Paul Allan was one of our most important players at the start of the season when we went on a decent run. We know all the positives everybody has got. We don’t look at it in a negative way, we look at it and see which is the best team to go and handle away to Falkirk or handle playing away to Peterhead or against Alloa here. We look at what is the best team that we can pick on that day.
“We have a group now with everybody being fit, close to twenty one senior players. We don’t agree on the best team every week, that’s when we sit down and we go over it with the what ifs of doing this and doing that. In the end sometimes to go with what Dave‘s best thoughts are, sometimes we go with mine. Then we back each other with whatever team we pick.
“There is never a finger pointing from me or Dave. If he thinks Matty Todd should play before Chris Hamilton or I think Chris Hamilton should play before Matty Todd. If something goes wrong, that’s not the case we work together as a team along with the other coaches, we all have an input. Thats the way we will continue to work if the players don’t buy into it then that’s fine, not a problem.”
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