Manager on ThursdayThursday, 19th Nov 2020
19/11/20: SC - “The Hearts players will look forward to coming here and that is something that we are going to have to deal with.
Ahead of Friday night’s important Championship match against Hearts, Stevie Crawford reflected on the Betfred Cup Draw and the match against Clyde. Sunday night’s draw gave Dunfermline a second round tie away to Dick Campbell’s Arbroath. Stevie commented:-
“We know that it is going to be a difficult game going up to Arbroath but we were just delighted to be in the hat and through to the next round. When I looked at the fifteen teams there is not a easy game in there anyway. What I will stress is if we had said at the start of the tournament that we were going to Arbroath with a chance to get to the quarter finals of the League Cup, I think that is something that we as a club would be excited about.
“We have also got a game against Hearts on Friday night that we are working towards this week but we will do our homework on Arbroath and give that the respect that it is due.”
Stevie had watched the Clyde game back and it confirmed how he felt during the game:-
“I got the feeling at the time that the disappointment of going two goals behind took away some of the attacking stuff that we did have in the game. I thought we created umpteen chances and we had a decent amount of crosses into the box.
“You are always then going to be judged on not taking those chances and then putting yourself in an awkward situation. The two goals we lost we were disappointed with but again that is something that we can try and work on on the training ground. It was collective and I stress that, we have got to work towards being a bit tighter and not making errors that lead to losing goals.
“I thought a lot of our attacking play was exciting other than hitting the back of the net in the first half.
“I went to the Clyde v Kilmarnock game last Tuesday, they set up in the very same formation 4-1-4-1 on Saturday. David Goodwillie was excellent against Kilmarnock and it proved to be the case that his link up play was excellent again on Saturday.
“The pleasing thing at the moment talking in a positive manner about the manner in which we came back from two goals down to win the game 3-2. Let’s not underestimate that because Clyde caused us problems, their shape was good at the weekend but we managed to progress in the tournament as a seeded side.
“The good feeling amongst the group is that’s a couple of times that we have come from behind. It is never easy in the Championship or even in professional football now that if you go a goal behind it is very difficult to then go and win the game. I know that the third goal was a little bit fortunate at the Clyde keeper’s expense.
“I sensed that the boys weren’t just happy to get the equaliser and even though there were only minutes of the game left, they went for the winner. That is credit to the attitude of the squad and what is important is to keep the momentum going.”
The gaffer warned against ‘getting ahead of ourselves’ and about the task ahead on Friday.
“We are looking forward to the Hearts game, the players are looking forward to it, the supporters will be looking forward to it and everybody connected with the club but that doesn’t give you any divine right to win a game of football.
“We have had a really good positive start to the season but rightly so Hearts will be the favourites to win the title. They have come down from the top league, they have got a very strong squad and a lot of very good players in it but it doesn’t mean that they are gong to come here and get it easy on Friday night.
“It will be a competitive fixture between two in form sides in the Championship at the moment. It is that old cliche one game at a time. We must make sure that we apply ourselves properly and gauge where we are at after Friday.”
Robbie Neilson was appointed Hearts manager in June 2020 returning to the club that he had led out of the Championship in season 2014-15 with a record number of points. His assistant manager that season was Stevie Crawford and the pair moved moved together to manage MK Dons in League One from December 2014 to January 2016. Stevie was not surprised to be asked about his old collaborator:-
“People will always talk about that relationship having worked with Robbie but I think we are a few years down the line now and gone our separate ways. I said last year when we faced Dundee United that it does not become about myself and Robbie. I am mindful that Robbie will be looking to win the game for Hearts and likewise I have got to remain focused on the team performing on Friday night to give us the opportunity to win a game of football.
“It is not my place to turn round and say Hearts have got certain individuals who are going to cause us problems. They have got a very strong squad but we have got to think about our players trying to cause them problems.”
The Hearts manager was in the stand to watch the Pars match against Clyde and even though he maybe didn’t see Dunfermline at their best Stevie said:-
“I know Robbie will have watched us more than once, that is the way he is and likewise we try to do as much homework on the opposition as possible. Greg (Shields) was away watching Hearts v East Fife last week, I have watched the Inverness V East Fife game back on livescout. I was at the Clyde game against Kilmarnock during the week so that took priority.
“Robbie will have picked up things that he will see where he can possibly hurt us. Equally we have got to do our homework and exploit areas that we think Hearts are weak in. It is going to be a very tough game but one that we are very much looking forward to. We have worked hard this week to give ourselves the best chance to get a positive result from the game.
“It is a number of years since I worked with Robbie at Hearts now. When you look at the squad it is totally different but I am not here to talk about Hearts players. What I will say is my judgement on them is that they are a very good strong squad that Robbie has put together. They rightly are favourites for the league because it is over 27 games.”
Even though it was four years ago, Stevie knows from working at Hearts just how they will feel coming to play at Dunfermline:-
“Hearts have to face clubs who are up for the challenge on a weekly basis. That is similar to teams when they come to East End as well like Clyde when they stepped out on to that park, I know the supporters weren’t there but the pitch was terrific on Saturday. The Hearts players will look forward to coming here and that is something that we are going to have to deal with.
“It is a great environment out there, it is a great stadium and it is going to be a great advert for the Championship. We are looking forward to it given the two positive starts that the teams have made.”
Giving an update on the players who were out injured last week, Stevie added:-
“Lewis Martin has seen a specialist the week but there’s nothing been flagged up. It was always going to be the case that he would see a specialist two weeks down the line to see if it had settled down.
“Aaron Comrie has been joining in training, so touch wood, everybody is going to be fine for Friday night.”
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