Manager on MondayMonday, 3rd May 2021
03/05/21: SC - “The supporters will be missing and it is a crying shame but that is what we have had to face all season.”
The two Premiership Play Off Quarter final matches coming up in the next five days are the most important for the club for a decade and for Stevie Crawford’s managerial career. He told the media today:-
“You are only as good as your last game. I am 47 but still get excited by football, I hope that I have a number of years in the game still to give something back to it. It never ceases to amaze me the different challenges that get thrown at you. You can never think that you are better than the game.
“At the start of the season our objective was to make the play offs and we have managed to do it. We now face the challenge of coming up against our rivals, Raith Rovers. We know what is at stake - the opportunity to progress to play Dundee in the semi final - but we are very much focused on the game tomorrow night.”
That focus also includes extinguishing the previous meetings this season with revenge for the last game at Stark’s Park dismissed:-
“I am only looking forward. The three league games are gone and since knowing that we are going to be playing the Rovers after the results on Friday night, like I said, we will be very much focused on what we are going to try and take and do over the next two games.”
The manager explained his team selection against Alloa Athletic and the benefits that he was seeking from making seven changes to his starting eleven:-
“I didn’t pick the team on Friday night purely focused on the game on Tuesday night. It enabled us to give boys who we felt needed it, game time for whatever reasons. It was also an opportunity to look at players who we think are going to have a future at this football club.
“We went into that match knowing that if we won the game and Dundee had lost there was still as possibility of us finishing third. We never wrote the game off on Friday night.
“Other than us losing the game I thought that it was a positive performance, the boys were brave in getting on the ball and what we never managed to do on the night, despite creating several chances, was put the ball in the back of the net. The game time that players got from it will be valued game time ahead of the two games that we are facing.”
Stevie has played on both sides of the Fife Derby, he knows what it means to fans of both clubs, the passion that it generates and also that it is the most important Fife Derby in ten years. He continued:-
“There is a rivalry between Dunfermline and Raith Rovers and it will continue that way. It is exciting that we are both playing in play off games at the right end of the table. We will be respectful of the Rovers strengths and weaknesses but equally concentrate on ourselves.
“I know what it felt like as a player, having played with both sides. It is a great advert for Fife, never mind the Scottish Championship. We are just looking to try and progress through the tie.
“The one thing that will be missing tomorrow night is supporters. For a game of this magnitude I think it is two clubs, not just ourselves. I am happy to speak about ourselves in terms of the way that we are trying to progress, move forward and get a good foundation at the club for longer term investment and progression but equally the Rovers have come up last season and done well with a remarkable season. That is exciting and makes it games that you want to be involved in.
“You prepare for it, get the excitement, the butterflies in the belly and at the end of the day, if you lose the game it hurts but if you win the game you feel a million dollars. The supporters will be missing and it is a crying shame but that is what we have had to face all season.”
After three matches this season against Raith Rovers that ended with a draw and win and a defeat, Stevie claims that the level of the belief and confidence in the squad stems from the way that they finished at home this season:-
“If you look at the tail end of the season the boys played under immense pressure in games that we had to win. We have scored goals in these games and it is those traits that we are asking for again.
“The belief comes because I believe in my players first and foremost. I wouldn’t have brought them to the club if I didn’t believe that. They have been disciplined throughout the season, that will be called upon over the ties and I want them to go out and express themselves, not to have any fear.
“I played as an attacking footballer as well and sometimes you have to allow them to go and express themselves. I think that we have done that towards the tail end of the season when the pressure was on us most.”
“We have come through a difficult time and it is still managing to put smiles on peoples’ faces. There are disappointments but it is being respectful of the game as a whole. There will be things that come up in these next two games that I personally will learn from and I’m sure that everybody at the club will learn from as well.”
The exciting thing for the club is that there is a structure in place that it not just a short term gain and Stevie believes that the club ready to return to the Premiership:-
“You hear it said often ‘baby steps’ but I think that is the case. We are a club that I think is moving in the right direction. We have had investment off the pitch from German investors which is great for the future of the club.
“It is not just money getting thrown at a playing budget, it is the structure of the club where we are looking to put in place over the coming years, not just next season.
“Some players have never played in a play off game and that excites me. I want my players to be excited going into two very tough games against Raith Rovers. We will embrace them and look forward to.”
Promotion this season by way of the six play off matches would probably see the Dunfermline players hailed as legends but again Stevie was only willing to look as far as the Premiership Quarter final first leg:-
“I don’t want to get as far ahead as talking about Saturday’s game. That would be if’s, but’s and maybe’s of what happens tomorrow night. We will be fully focused knowing that it is a two leg affair and whatever is thrown at us, yes we will have spoken about it and tried to cover all bases but football never stops surprising you, something will come up that we have not spoken about or tried to prepare for. That is the excitement of the game.”
Asked about player availability, the Pars boss said:-
“At this moment we are at a stage where everybody is in contention. That is the pleasing thing from Friday night. Whether that proves to be the case we will have to wait and see over the next 24 hours but everybody is in contention other than Lewis Martin and Ryan Dow.”
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