Dunfermline Athletic

Manager on Thursday

Thursday, 11th Feb 2021

11/02/21: SC - “You want the games to be played but if the weather is going to play havoc on us we just have to adjust accordingly.”

Dunfermline manager Stevie Crawford reflected on recent matches with mixed emotions - a good positive performance at Tynecastle, a great result over Raith and a dent to the mood with a frustrating trip to Arbroath.

“We created Hearts a number of problems on the day and it was a bit unfair to come away with nothing. We were really really happy with the way we responded in the Raith Rovers game. We were very front foot, created a number of chances for a team that was struggling to hit the back of the net. Then going up to Arbroath, it is a difficult place to go.

"I`m not one for crying over conditions. I`ve played over the years at different venues and stadiums, but I stick by what I said after the game. The referee had mentioned before the game to myself and Dick (Campbell) that if it got farcical (he would abandon the match).

"Having watched the game back, when a goalkeeper is struggling to keep the ball on the pitch from a goal kick, or you are asking your players to defend from a goal kick, at what point does the game become farcical? It is done and dusted and we now look forward to the Dundee game.”

In the first half as Arbroath played with the wind on their backs, Pars keeper Owain Fôn Williams struggled getting any distance on goal kicks and clearances with very often his defence having to deal with the ball coming straight back at them. Stevie felt it was difficult for the powers that be to legislate in such a way to take account of windy conditions:-

“That is nothing to do with technique, Owain tried to open up and then with the flight of the ball it is blown back. Your two central midfielders are basically defending on their 18 yard line. We had the wind with us in the second half but in my time as manager I`ve not come out with excuses to try and defend results. For me, it just puts a leveller on the game and it`s not a spectacle that you want to watch.

"Arbroath won the game and we`re hurting from it, but at what point does it become farcical? On Saturday, I think we had an argument for that. What you`ve got to take into consideration is, hopefully in Scotland, we`re wanting to try to play as much `football` as we can. Players were trying to pass the ball on Saturday and basically you were trying to kick it as hard as you could into the wind to get it as far up the park as you could.

“Both teams were playing on the same pitch, that is the competitive element. I didn’t think my players weren’t being competitive, we had chances in the second half to score goals and Kerr McInroy hit one in the first half when there was a scramble from their goalkeeper, he hit it to him and O’Brien got a good header to block it going in.

“As I said it’s done, it`s dusted, I don`t want to make a bigger deal than I did on Saturday. I felt I was right in what I said and we have to move on with the season now.”

The manager hopes that Saturday’s game against Dundee will survive the cold snowy spell but anyone who has been in West Fife in the last few days would consider that unlikely, Stevie commented:-

“It looks like the game on Saturday might be in doubt but we have got to prepare accordingly. Dundee were one of the in-form teams up until they went to Starks Park a few weeks ago and lost 3-1. We have had exciting games against Dundee in the last couple of years, there have been a number of goals scored in the fixtures.

“Looking back at the game in December at Dens Park, we didn’t want to find ourselves in a situation that we wanted to be in. I thought we showed great courage and fighting spirit to come back from 3-0 down and it was a great advert for Scottish football.

“You want the games to be played but if the weather is going to play havoc on us we just have to adjust accordingly.”

That adjustment included putting programmes for players to train on their own when not able to use the Alloa training facilities:-

“It is probably something that they have had to learn as they have gone along in the last few months. The boys were in situations where they maybe overtrain running on the hard surfaces. That is why we saw it fit that we got an early message out to the boys that we weren’t going to train on Tuesday and put a plan in place to let them know that we were going to train Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.

“We just need to try and judge as the week goes on just how hard we are going to train the boys and possibly give them some time off over the weekend.”

Stevie gave an update on his two recent signings Craig Wighton and Vytas Gašpuitis.

“We are delighted as a football club, it is a number of years since we were last able to talk getting a pre contract in. Craig broke into senior football at the age of sixteen, he has played in the top division, the Championship and went through a number of experiences where he faced injury problems.

“He has played under different managers and worked under different coaches as well. He plays a number of positions as a striker or in wide positions. I mainly see him as a striker, I think that is where his future is for us. That is not to say that he will not be asked to play in different roles.

“He is a welcome addition to the players that we have already got in the squad and one who will do well for us. He is at a right good age, 23 and he will be 24 in the summer with a lot of good years ahead of him. I am just delighted that we have got him (signed up) because I know that Craig is hungry, he is ambitious and if you look at his last calendar year his goal return is way better than he has managed to do in previous seasons.

“He has managed to get a run of games under his belt over the last twelve months and to get him on pre contract is an exciting one for us.”

Lithuanian internationalist Vytas Gašpuitis arrived in Scotland, a free agent after leaving his last club, FK Panevėžys. Stevie explained how the player’s agent had approached Dunfermline Athletic:-

“Ross McArthur and I had several discussions on it. There was a number of problems to solve because he was Lithuanian but Ross and the board have worked extremely hard behind the scenes to get this one over the line with the help of his representatives.”

Vytas made his international debut in November last year and former Dunfermline centre back Andrius Skerla is an assistant to the Lithuanian international team.

“Andrius had five years at our football club that meant a lot to him and after several discussions and having watched him through Wyscout and InStat we felt that he was the right fit to join our football club.

“He is a centre half, six foot five that we feel will be a great addition. He is 26 year old and is keen to kick on in his career. He is ambitious and sees it as step in the right direction to where he wants his career to go. So with him being ambitious and Dunfermline being ambitious, we think it is a win-win situation.”

Can we expect him to be like Andrius (pictured below)?

“It is hard to compare. Andrius, with 84 caps for Lithuania, and a fantastic player for Dunfermline over the years, his application, his attitude settling into a foreign country himself, played a big part in it.

“We spoke about Vytas as a character and Andrius could not speak highly enough of him. It is always a risk bringing a player to a club, more so in that you are bringing him from a foreign country but we just think that he ticks a lot of the right boxes.

“He can play left centre back, right centre back and if we were to change to playing three at the back, he is also comfortable with that. So he gives us options.

“He is possibly slightly behind in terms of his conditioning at the moment. I think his last game was for the national side a number of months ago. He has tried to keep himself to certain fitness levels and last Thursday was his first training session after his self isolation period.

“He is allowed to train with the boys but he can only go back to his flat. He is not allowed to go out and shop at the moment. He is facing difficult times but when his isolation period finishes, he will be living under the same restrictions as everybody else.

“He knows that he is a little bit off it but he is very keen and we will work him hard with Gary (McColl) over the next couple of weeks and integrate him into the squad at the right time.”

Encouraging for fans to see him here on a two and a half year deal?

“Within that two and a half year period, if he plays to the levels that he is hoping to play to, hopefully that might attract interest from outwith as well. If he is attracting interest from outwith I think it means that Dunfermline as a football club are doing well.

“I am not saying that lightly, I want players who are wanting to come and commit their future to us. Equally, if it means that we get attention from other places, I think it will help progress us as a football club.”

The manager also revealed that Ryan Dow had been sent for an MRI scan on Monday and the club will have to see what results come back from that.

“It is in the Achilles calf area and there wasn’t anybody round about him so it is not great short term. I can’t rule anything out but we will have a better idea once Jamie Sutton gets the MRI scan results back. I am talking blind on the timescale that Ryan is going to be out for.”

Asked about the continued suspension of the lower leagues and Scottish Cup, Stevie replied:-

"We have Kyle Macdonald who we have added to our squad from Airdrie and a deal that he will go back there if their league starts again.

"This year, because of the Covid situation, Championship clubs are also able to bring in players this month (after the transfer window). It may be that they have to adjust the loan deadline for lower league clubs because it`s not as if they`re playing games.

"We are in a privileged situation that we are getting to play games of football but it’s just another problem that coming up as the season has progressed and it might be something the SPFL look at and look to try to resolve a situation there.”

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