Manager ahead of FalkirkSunday, 1st Jan 2023
01/01/23: JMc- “I don`t think I can be disrespectful to any club and say we just turn up and play.”
The rivalry between Dunfermline Athletic and Falkirk Football Club is something of a new experience to James McPake and his assistant Dave Mackay but even with the usual ‘it’s only three points proviso’, no one should underestimate their desire to start 2023 with a hugely satisfying derby victory. He believes the fans that have been so supportive of him and his team this season, deserve a New Year resolution delivered on day two.
"The atmosphere has been great in the two games I`ve managed against them for Dunfermline. That adds to it, of course it does, but I think when you strip everything back there are three points available, a good start to the new year for a set of fans and a football club.
“We will just play the game. It`s quickly forgotten about what the results becomes. If you get a positive result, you move on to the next one, if you don`t, you dwell on it for a few days and then you try and put it right. That`s not rubbishing the game or saying it`s not important, it is important, but it is equally as important as the Kelty game last week or the Edinburgh game that follows it.
“We`re confident, we`re in a good place. We`ve lost one game so far in the league, the other loss was to Ross County, a Premiership club. So we`ve got every right to be confident. Falkirk beat Queen of the South, so they`ll come here confident. They`ll come and try and win the game, which they tried to do last time here and we`ll try and win.”
Much was said about the game plan that brought the Fifers success at the Falkirk Stadium in November. Can we expect the same emphasis on strategy on Monday?
"Like every game, we`ll have a plan. Sometimes it`s more evident, particularly when you come out and speak about it. I don`t think that was just me - I think John McGlynn came out and spoke about it as well. That got a bit of publicity then, but I don`t think I can be disrespectful to any club and say we just turn up and play.”
Game plan is always important for James and it`s something he and Dave Mackay worked heavily on at Dundee. At Dunfermline it is no different:-
“We had this squad from the very start, minus the loan additions, and we had the chance to really hammer down what we`re looking for. I think if you look at most games, the way we play, it`s quite evident. You see the patterns, you see all the tactical stuff that we have been working on, but then, you can win a game on a set play, you can lose a game on a set play, it can be a referee`s decision for or against, a bad decision from the coaching staff, a bad decision from a player, or vice-versa from the other team.
"We have been working on a plan but that`s all it is. You then pick eleven players and you ask them to carry it out. You ask them to work really hard, give you everything, and that`s the beauty of this group. That`s what they`ve been doing, and they`ll continue to do that I believe.
"They`ve been excellent carrying out things we ask but, above everything else, they`ve worked harder than most teams when it came to that, and we need to continue to do that. If we win the game, it will be a great game plan again. If we lose the game, I`ll never listen to Dave again!
"At the end of the day, unless it`s a draw someone will go away happy and we want it to be Dunfermline Athletic fans because they`ve been excellent. They`ve followed us home and away. They`ve got right behind the players, and they are a big part of the reason the first half of the season went okay, but it`s just okay at the minute. We`ve got Edinburgh behind us and then Falkirk and Airdrie."
Squad wise the manager was happy to confirm that he is looking forward to welcoming back to the match day squad, former Falkirk player, Kevin O’Hara who has been out with a knee injury since the start of September. That just leaves Paul Allan sidelined recovering from an ankle operation.
Watch James McPake’s interview with Jordan Burt for PARStv
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