Dunfermline Athletic

Manager on Friday

Friday, 31st Mar 2023

31/03/23: James McPake pleased his No.26 here to 26

Before addressing Saturday’s match at home to Kelty Hearts, Dunfermline manager James McPake was pleased to confirm a new three year contract for his midfielder Matty Todd. He feels the 21 year old has done really well for him since he took over at The KDM Group East End Park:-

“He`s been a big player for us this season, he`s had a good season so far but he needs to show it until the end of this season - and then hopefully over the course of the next three years. He`s one that I know for a fact other clubs were looking at in January. So for us to get him tied down is a massive boost for the football club.”

Matty’s contract extension follows that agreed for Josh Edwards in January and comes after their performances that have attracted interest from other clubs. James claimed that he preferred it that way:-

"We prefer it if other clubs are watching our players than nobody interested  because either we`re on a bad run or the player`s form isn`t great. You get that, particularly when that young. He has, like Josh, played  a lot of football for someone that age at first-team level.

A fan in the building

"A great product of the academy, which is now our own again. I know he was in Fife Elite but he`s come through Dunfermline Academy and he always wanted to play for Dunfermline Athletic, being a big fan as well.

"Having that in the building really helps as well. I think it is really important. It isn`t why you would sign a player but when you`ve got fans in that dressing room, it certainly helps. Matty is that.

"We were never really worried about other teams taking him. He`s been enjoying it. He`s playing really well and he knows he still has a lot of room for improvement. We`re delighted with how he`s done this season, but there`s so much more to come from him. He`s excellent to work with, he`s willing to learn all the time. I`m just happy we`ll have him for the next three years and the chance to work with him."

Close to ton up

Matty is just six short of 100 senior appearances and his boss is impressed with that saying:-

"That`s a lot. When you look at his age and he`s been fortunate with injury at the minute - touch wood that stays the same because he`s got everything you want. He can play different positions, he`ll hit 12k in a game, he scores goals, he`s on 10 for the season and he`s annoyed it`s not closer to 20 with the chances he`s had. That`s what we love about him, he`s always striving to do more.

“From the very first day I came here he was out there running. He didn`t know I was coming in. So in terms of attitude, application and how he approaches being a professional footballer, and wanting the best and getting the best out of himself, then that`s all there.

"It`s up to us, and a bit of fortune obviously with injury, with the right things happening to him to make him better. I think he`s a real asset for this football club."

Playing for contracts

As the season closes you need to look at the players approaching the end of their contracts who are trying their best to impress you.

“Everybody is doing that, everybody is doing well in training. Certain ones are on loan and they are trying to impress for a contract at their parent club. There are ones here who are out of contract and ones like Matty we need to make sure we tie down because of how well he has done. There is a lot of irons in the fire. A lot of things happening in the background.

“What we cannot really be taken away from is all that really matters on a Saturday afternoon or a Tuesday night. Whenever we are playing everything goes out the window for that. The players have been great at keeping their mindset and focus on working hard in training and then producing on a Saturday. So far we have done that.”

The Freedom of Kelty

Having avoided being dragged into a relegation fight, James believes that Kelty Hearts can play with a freedom where they just want to turn up and win games.

“We watched them, Dave was there along with Monty last Friday night against Falkirk. They could have scored very early and then they showed defensively just how good they can be if they need to hold on. We are not surprised about that.

“Whether they are bottom of the league or fighting for things at the top, I think it will still be a tough a game. I have all respect for John Potter, the way he coaches and what he does. He was here and taught people like Matty Todd and Lewis McCann, he put a lot of work into them and I believe they think a lot of him.”

Close Encounters

“They have experience in their team, they have a real know how in how to be in games, how to win games and how to get themselves out of trouble when they might be down in games. We can’t underestimate them regardless of their situation where they are in the league.

“We have seen that over the course of three games this season, they have been tough, tough games here and away from home. We got a draw up there then Lewis scored a 90th minute winner on Christmas Eve. Even in the game here they were well in the game. They have got good players, good experience in their team. It is going to be a tough one so we need to be at our best.”

For the visit of Kelty the manager revealed that Rhys Breen is still out but Matty Todd ‘has a chance’.

Spot kick switch

Last Saturday Craig Wighton scored from the third Dunfermline goal from the penalty spot. He has assumed the role from Kyle Benedictus confirmed James:-

“We changed it, although it wasn’t something that I insisted on happening. You have got to let the players own that. I respect people who step up and take penalties, I never took any but Dave took them in his career.

“What you don’t want is that big fight or argument on the pitch. I just asked Bene before the game if he was still on them and he said ‘no, Wighty is going to take them if that’s alright’.

“Some people will look at it differently but I’ve been in that sort of situation where there have been two players arguing over it so, you have it laid out before they go out. If that player is off then an argument might happen.

“I have a lot of respect for people who go up and do it. Bene has been great for us, he has missed a couple but look at Messi he misses them and then scores important ones as well. I can only imagine it’s a hard hard job, it is maybe different when you are two nil up but Wighty was looking at that thinking that is the penalty that wins us a game effectively. There is always a pressure on it and a self pressure on themselves because from twelve yards out they want another goal.

“I knew Wighty was taking it. It was a good penalty and I’m glad one went in eventually. It’s been a while because we seemed to becoming a little unstuck with a few of them but that’s life.”

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