Dunfermline Athletic

Manager on Monday

Monday, 17th Oct 2022

17/10/22: JM - “With Clyde being on their home pitch, they will come out and they will have a go at us which will suit us I think.

It might just be a rumour that manager James McPake was watching Manchester City’s 1-0 defeat at Anfield on Sunday wearing a Liverpool shirt but there is no doubt that he takes pride in his team’s unbeaten league record - now the only team undefeated in the SPFL, EPL, and EFL. He is determined however not to be deflected away from the next task in front of him:-

“The big focus on this game isn’t on preserving an unbeaten run. It’s going to Clyde and putting on a good performance and we believe if we do that, then we’ll come away with a positive result. Then the unbeaten run takes care of itself anyway.

“If anyone can take any credit for that it’s the players and we’ve said to them it is something to be proud of, to go on a run like that and not get beat but it could change on Tuesday night. That’s football, and we’ve all seen that.

“If the performance isn’t right and we go down there and we’re below the standards we’ve set, then Clyde are a good enough team to beat us and beat us comfortably if we are not right. We just need to get our game-plan right, start well, run as much as them and if it turns into a fight, be as strong as them, and then when it’s on to play we need to play good football. That’s what we’re aiming to do and if the unbeaten run continues then great.

“The players should be proud of it. We’ve played more games but, because of the call-off, this is the last remaining game of the first round of fixtures and we would love to go through it unbeaten but we need to do it the proper way. That’s not the key thing here. The key thing is the performance, because it’s the performance that gets you the result.”

After ten cinch League One matches, Dunfermline have won six and drawn four but James warned:-

“If you’re 10 games without a win you can win that 11th game. If you’re 10 games without a defeat you can lose that 11th game. That’s football. We need to get the performance and keep the performance levels high, and see what happens.”

Seeking three wins in a row and three away wins in a row the Pars boss expects it to be a tough game going to Hamilton to play Clyde. The fact that after a good start to the season the Bully Wee have lost seven league games in a row only makes the task tougher:-

“We are not looking into it too much where they are in the league or their form because you just need to rewind back to the Peterhead game and that shows you that goes out the window. We need to perform well, we need to turn up, work really hard and be the best version of ourselves. If we do that then hopefully the outcome can be another result but we have a lot of work to do before that.”

The Dunfermline players can take confidence from the manner of their win over FC Edinburgh when a late win proved the importance of patience. James confirmed he felt the win was justified:-

“I think we thoroughly deserved to win the game. We were the better team and it’s not being critical of Edinburgh, they came here with a game plan to be very hard to break down and to frustrate us. For a while they did that but it is hard, I have been in those situations and you can only defend for so long.”

Sam Fisher’s 88th minute cross led to the winner as it broke off the unlucky Edinburgh central defender:-

“Liam Fontaine was very unfortunate, he has had a fantastic career, he is a fantastic person” saiid the manager “Myself and Dave Mackay were lucky enough to work with him at Dundee and he was unfortunate when the ball came in. When you keep putting crosses into boxes and you keep making those forward runs, those forward passes and wearing teams down to ask them the question ‘can you defend’ then you normally get what you deserve. That is what happened on Saturday. “

FC Edinburgh were not the first team to come to the KDM Group East End Park aiming to sitting in and look to hit on the break. James was pleased with the patience of his team:-

“That was the pleasing aspect of it for me certainly. We looked a lot more patient even though it is perceived as a bigger game, it was just as big as against Peterhead because it was worth three points. Edinburgh could have gone five points ahead of us but we know where we are so early in the league.

“We got snatchy against Peterhead. We ended up getting our goals but I thought our decision making got erratic when we played Peterhead. It was something that we were trying to get across to the players, to be patient - you don’t need to win the game in the first half. For a coach or a manager or even for them it is better if you are two or three up come half time.

“We were two up at Alloa but you know the game is still not done. It is a better cushion than coming in at nil nil and the crowd can get a wee bit edgy but I thought they stuck with us. They could see that we were being patient, and they were patient with us so that helped settle the players.

“They will take belief from that because we are going to face that a lot here this season. Most teams will come and do it. In my opinion the teams that have caused us the most problems here have been Airdrie and Falkirk. They came out and made it a game of football with two teams going toe to toe. If you were sitting watching that game as a neutral you would have said that had been a really good game of football. I don’t think many neutrals would have enjoyed Saturday.”

Perhaps it will be different on Tuesday night being away from home but it is highly likely that everyone will still need patience. The manager speculated on Clyde’s approach:-

“With Clyde being on their home pitch, they will come out and they will have a go at us which will suit us I think. They are desperate for results, they have an experienced manager who plays football in a certain way - he has for a while going back to his St Mirren days. They are at home and they will see it as a chance to get three points to help themselves climb the league.

“I’m not saying Edinburgh didn’t see it as a chance to get three points and I’m not trying to be disrespectful to any team. I have been a manager where I have gone and tried to goad the other team to get something late on in games because you know if you do go out and go toe to toe with that team the likelihood is, unless they have a really off day, they have better players and they will win you the game.

“Danny Lennon and his coaching staff will have a game-plan and they’ll be planning to find ways to try and hurt us and try and stop us. We’re trying to find ways to hurt Clyde and stop Clyde.

“Yes, they’ve lost a lot of games but they create a lot of chances, they’ve got a fair bit of speed in their team, they play with two strikers, and two very mobile strikers, and they’ve got pace in the wide areas. So, they can hurt you, and it’s maybe been at the back end of their pitch that has been letting them down.

“We need to make sure first and foremost, that defensively we’re sound, and then we’ve got the quality and patience that when the chances do come to hurt Clyde that we make the right decisions. If we do that then we’ll hopefully come away with a positive result.”

The manager reported that Nikolay Todorov had no ill effects after his clash of heads with his marker early in the second half in Saturday’s match:-

“Nikolay is fine. It’s a worrying one and, as I said, I hope Lee Hamilton’s fine as well, and from what I’ve read it sounds as if he is. You never like to see that. We’re very lucky the doctor was there and had a look at Nikolay quite quickly. We’ve got the protocol they go over on the pitch and they ask some questions. He was alert and answering the questions.

“Then, we assessed him after the game and on Sunday morning and Monday morning, and he’s been okay. The medical term is a SCAT test, and I’ve had a few of them myself because I’ve had a few head knocks. They can be dangerous and we would never take a chance on him if there was an issue. There’s a lot more to life than football. If at any point the doctor said to me there’s a risk there then, even if we had no subs left, I would have brought the big man off just to protect him. He’s got a young kid and a wife, and he’s a human being but he’s okay.

“Nikolay didn’t get his goal but I thought he was excellent again and put in a good shift.

“Lewis McCann will be in the squad again. I thought he did excellently when he came on, as did Craig Wighton when he came on. I thought the two of them linked up really well. Lewis is getting back to what he was at the start of the season. We’re clearing up the little niggle.

“Craig’s gradually getting to a level where he’s playing well. Every day in training, he’s looking more like the Craig I know. So, both are in the squad tomorrow, both will travel and we’ll see who is playing.”

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