Dunfermline Athletic

Manager on Friday

Friday, 10th Jul 2020

10/07/20: SC- “We have got five new boys over the line and I know there are still a couple of areas of the park that I want to address but there are exciting times ahead.”

Dunfermline manager Stevie Crawfordwas pleased to bring in no fewer that three attacking players - Declan McManus, Kevin O’Hara and Dom Thomas.

Firstly, however, he gave his reaction to Kevin Nisbet’s departure to Hibs:-

“I am disappointed in a way because obviously he scored 23 goals for us last season. I think the club showed their ambition in terms trying to keep hold of Kevin in January when we had opportunities to sell him. Now we find ourselves in the summer there has been a good bit of interest in Kevin again.

“We did say a year ago from now that we were going to be a development club. Kevin has come in and done well along with other players but it was too good an opportunity for him to not go to Hibs who are obviously a Premiership club, a very good club and I think the important thing for ourselves was that we weren’t losing him to anybody in our league to be rivals against us.

“I am disappointed in a way but it is very much something that we can build on and build a foundation to continue to bring in more of the same.”

On the day Kevin Nisbet left, Stevie has brought in the top goal scorers at local clubs, Declan McManus at Falkirk and Kevin O’Hara at Alloa along with Dom Thomas from Kilmarnock, an attacking player who made an impact while on loan at East End Park earlier this year. Stevie enthused:-

”To bring in Declan McManus, who had a spell at the club a few years ago, is good because he is very popular with the supporters and he wears his heart on his sleeve. The good thing about that for us is that he went on and won promotion with Ross County and then returns on the back of the season when he scored 24 goals for Falkirk. There will be confidence on that side of things in his game. It will be great to get that.

“Kevin O’Hara has one who I knew as a young boy coming through at Falkirk when I was on the coaching staff there. He has not had it easy in terms of his senior career. Last year he was given a platform by Peter Grant at Alloa and he did fantastically well for them. He probably got a bit of belief in himself that he could score goals at that level. We are very fortunate that we have somebody coming in at 21 years of age with a good part of his career now ahead of him. He is hungry to learn and improve, that is important to me and important for all the players that we are trying to bring to Dunfermline.

“Dom Thomas is well known to the fans following his spell here on loan in January, he has a bit of character about him and I think that is important because you get your bumps and bruises in the game. When things are not going so well it is important that you have a character like Dom to go and wind that dressing room up, not to dwell on negativity. He will be a massive asset for us on that side. He is creative, I had said that I was targeting a wide attacking player and Dom was my number one target on that.

“I think it shows the ambition in ourselves that we have managed to get him from Kilmarnock, a Premier League club and also Dom sees Dunfermline as a very good fit for the stage that he is at in his career. I know that he comes here wanting to be a big part and one of the main players for us.

“To get these three additions is exciting and is one that the fans will look forward to seeing next season.

“There is a connection that sometimes fans don’t get to see, these boys are popular with supporters albeit they are doing their jobs as football players but they bring a heartbeat to the club. Dom collected votes for our Player of the Year and if he is getting that within half a season, it shows that there is that connection with the fans.

“I have always said that we like players with a bit of flair at Dunfermline and Dom definitely ticks that box. Kevin scored 14 goals in his first season at Alloa and that showed, that similar to Declan, he too wears his heart on his sleeve. Declan was Player of the Year here before my time at the club which is good because we are a community club and I have always said that I wanted to try and create an atmosphere where players are respectful of supporters’ feelings. They have to go out and express themselves and if the fans get behind the players there is no better atmosphere.

“I have felt that there was a slight change last year as the season progressed. I know we went through a sticky spell with those five defeats in a row but through the other parts of the season I thought the fans were terrific. That is something that I want to continue to build on moving forward into this season as well.”

After the Dean Shiels incident while Kevin OHara was at Falkirk, he apologised and he hopes to win over Dunfermline fans by scoring important goals for the team. Stevie added:-

“I know that there was an incident that was well publicised before my spell here as manager. Kevin held up his hands, we do make mistakes in life and you can get caught up in things. He was a young boy at the time and it probably didn’t help that it was against one of our rivals, that brings more attention to it as well. We have done our homework on these players and it will not take Kevin long to let the Dunfermline fans see what it means to him and his football. He has held up his hand and he will go again.

“His work ethic was one of the attractions of trying to bring him to the club and I think that we will see a good side of Kevin moving forward.”

Kevin is now 21 years old but at youth level worked with Stevie and Neil McFarlane at Falkirk. Their first team was that young at the time and before the sixteen year old rule, Kevin along with other 14 and 15 year olds were playing in the under 20s team.

“He was on the bench and we looked after him and if they were coming up against big senior players you obviously had to watch the physicality side. When you get bonds with players they know that you are real and you have best intentions in trying to help them become not just a better person, but also a better football player. You go on seven or eight years down the line and that bond is maybe something that has allowed us to get one over the line.”

Declan and Dom have both said that Stevie Crawford was a major influence on them choosing to return to Dunfermline. The Pars gaffer felt that it was nice to hear but that but underlined that was also down to the coaching staff that he has got around about him:-

“I think Steven Whittaker is going to add to that, the chairman as well is behind that. There are ways of treating players and whether it is the loan market we are looking at, it is really showcasing what Dunfermline is about. Dunfermline is a big club and for a number of years it has been spoken about that we should be looking to get into the Premiership but nobody just gives you a present.

“It was interesting talking to Dom this morning after he signed that for whatever reason he felt at Kilmarnock that he was a bit like an in-and-out bit player. It is good to hear a player that you are bringing to the club wants to be one of the main players. It is not an arrogance like I am just going to turn up and play on a Saturday.

“We have been fortunate with the signings that we have already added Declan who has won promotion out of this league, Paul Watson and Steven Whittaker. We have Ryan Dow, Euan Murray, Aaron Comrie who came in the door last year without much first team experience. I thought Lewis Martin was excellent so there are still going to be opportunities for boys to kick on and have their better years ahead of them but it is a winning mentality that we have got to bring now. “

Stevie is still looking for more players or even on loan players, he has a couple of targets still in mind that he wants to address.

“The area that I am trying to address in the team is ongoing at the moment. I think we are happy with the nucleus of the squad now but might be a market out there for younger players to develop or look at the loan market to see where we need to strengthen in other areas.

“That can bring its problems. Loan players coming to a club these days can be wanting to be granted game time but that goes back to relationships that we have made already. Talking to guys in the game you just have to be honest.

“I see that as my squad and if you are asking players to fight for the jersey and then if you bring in on loan signings who want guaranteed game time that doesn’t work. It is about being honest, if they are coming here to Dunfermline they are coming here to fight for their jersey and that might be part of their learning experience.

“We have got five new boys over the line and I know there are still a couple of areas of the park that I want to address but there are exciting times ahead.”

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