Manager on ThursdayThursday, 12th Aug 2021
12/08/21: PG - “I know that it is going to be a really tough evening. We will have to play at our best and sometimes your best might not be good enough.
Dunfermline fans will look forward to their first visit to Ibrox Stadium for four years, for the majority of the squad it will be their first time playing there and for the manager it will be his first encounter against Steven Gerrard since Peter Grant, as Senior Professional Development Coach at Fulham, met his Liverpool counterpart in a small tournament in Switzerland hosted by FC Aesch. The U19 competition in July 2017 included matches against SV Hamburg, FC Basel and Juventus. Peter recalled:-
“We were part of an international tournament and we beat them 3-1 in the semi final. Steven probably won’t remember it, like myself you don’t like remembering when you lose. That was the last time we came across each other, so I’d settle for the same result come Friday evening.”
Peter was also on the West Ham coaching staff when they met Liverpool in 2006 FA Cup Final in the Millennium Stadium. Steven Gerrard scored twice after the Hammers had taken a two goal lead and he was named Man of the Match as Liverpool went on to win on penalties. Peter remembers how four minutes of added time had just been an o punched when Gerrard scored the equaliser:-
“We had kept him quiet for probably seventy minutes onwards because we felt as if he was struggling with a slight calf injury or a bit of fatigue because it was a real tough game.
“We had done our job well to get back to 3-2 but from a free kick Steven was back the pitch. He ran on, lashed it in and the rest was history. We lost on penalties but it was an unbelievable performance from a guy who proved that many many times with Liverpool. It was a very disappointing day that day but I’m hoping I can turn that come Friday evening.”
Peter was also with Birmingham City when they defeated Arsenal 2-1 to lift the 2011 League Cup and he lost a play off final to Crystal Palace when at West Ham. He continued:-
“I have been there, won finals and lost finals and I know what I prefer. I prefer winning and in the cup there are fantastic opportunities to go to places like Ibrox and Celtic Park. An opportunity to play against the best and I know if you get through this one, then all of a sudden, who knows how far you can go.
“That is where you have to aim and you have got to think positive in everything that you are doing. Then you have to put it into practice, that is the biggest thing - can you put it into practice once you are on the pitch?
“We can all have the dreams and say you are going to do this and do that. I have been there many many times and we turn up and say well that wasn’t the way we spoke before the game. I am loathe to do that.”
Much has been said and written about Rangers defeats in their last three matches but Peter claims that has no bearing on what is going to happen on Friday night.
“I wish it continues on Friday but we know that it is a very tough task and we know that we will have to be at our very very best and sometimes even that might not be good enough.
“We have to go there and be positive. It is easy saying that but I don’t how the players are going to react when they go there. Nobody prepares you for it. You don’t know until you actually get there.
“I have some boys here who had never played in front of a crowd until two weeks ago. They have been playing first team football for eighteen months but there have been no crowds in. It is very unusual and you don’t even realise that as a manager.
“I am hoping that my players handle the environment because I know if they handle the environment I know that they can play. If we play like we did on Saturday that won’t be the case.
“We want to sit at the top table, we have a fantastic support here, we want to get into the Premier League and play these games week in week out. To do that you have to be able to play at places like Ibrox and Celtic Park. Hopefully they go and embrace it.”
An away win is sitting at odds of 14-1 and no pundits are giving Dunfermline much of a chance. Could that take pressure off the Pars?
“There is always pressure” said Peter “we want to impress and play well every single game I don’t care who we are playing.
“I’d rather be on the front foot taking the game to them, making sure that we play well and that was a big disappointment last week.
“We have to play and have that bravado about you to play games of football and I don’t mean kidding yourself on, there is a difference.
“You have to play with a confidence and go in there saying this is where I want to be playing every week. These are the games that I want to be playing and not just once in a blue moon and to achieve that you have to put performances in and victories.
“Last week it was a home game, we had a great support and all of a sudden we let them down with the performance.
“We have to start performing in the way we can, we showed that earlier on in the season and we have to get back to that. Anybody could say that Rangers are struggling but when you look at their group of players that tells you enough.
“I am more interested in what we do and I know if we put in a performance we are capable of going there and getting something from the game, there is absolutely no doubt about that because we have good players also who have played at a good level as well.”
Asked how important guys like Graham Dorrans be on Friday night, Peter joked:-
“It depends on whether he is playing or not! That is why he is here because if you look at the group, the group is very young. It is important to try and get that balance of people who have won games and won trophies and Graham has done that down in England as well as here in Scotland. He has been able to play at that level internationally so he is a top quality player who is able to embrace that environment.
“He is always important never mind on the pitch around about the guys who as I say or a young group of players. Hopefully his fitness is getting back to somewhere where we can expect the performances from Graham.
“Sometimes experience can be good on these occasions, sometimes it’s not so good because some people have experience of going in there and the game is lost.
“My very first debut if I had been told the night before I don’t think I would have been able to play because I would have been that nervous.
“I was fortunate that it was only just a few hours before the game and that probably made me play better because of the fact that I had no time to think. I just went out there and I was already involved in the game before I knew it.
“Different guys take it differently and that is the thing. How are they going to play? I don’t know, I know what they are capable of performance wise but who knows how they handle an arena.
“The biggest thing is how you handle playing in the big games. I always think that is the fine line between the top players and us so-called ordinary players the fact that they can handle arenas more often than not.
“There is nothing better than playing in these sort of arenas. I can say that as a player, it is pressure but the enjoyment you get is the reason why we do it, why we strive when we are youngsters to play at the biggest and best clubs you possibly can.
“You know if you are doing well they will reward you. There is nothing better when you have a full stadium and you are playing well. You have to do that week in week out for both those clubs.”
Steven Gerrard will be feeling the pressure from the Scottish press said the Pars gaffer
“You are the king of the castle one, two or three weeks and then you are not good enough two weeks later. That is fact, that is the way it is up here. That is never going to change, that is the mentality we have, you are either good or you are rubbish and there is no in between. I have had that all my career.
“Steven will be hurting because his team is not playing as well as he thinks they should be playing or not getting the results. Unfortunately that is the nature of the beast and that is why we all want to work at the very highest level because those are the pressures that we all want to work under. You’re striving to be successful and win trophies.
“Ask all the managers down the levels like myself what would you rather be doing? Would you rather be at the top challenging for championships, playing European games and winning trophies? Of course you would.
“It is easy saying that. I can tell them that before they go on but once they go out on the pitch do your legs handle it, does your brain think as quickly. We don’t know that until the game actually starts. That is why I am looking forward to it so much but I know that I have players who are more than capable, that is for sure. I would be more worried if I didn’t have the players and was wondering ‘what are you going to do’ and hoping for the best.
“If we put in a performance we are more than capable of getting a performance and result.”
Peter accepts that going to Ibrox and playing a team like Rangers will mean that you will maybe have the ball less, there is not much you can do about that because good players do that with you at times.
“We are hoping they don’t that don’t have a lot of possession but we comfortable out of possession. Against good players at the top level, they make you work really really hard and we have got to be prepared for that. We may have to be prepared to suffer at times and dig in. At these moments you have to be thinking clearly.
“I know I have a group that is capable of it, they have proven it but I’m really looking forward and excited to see if they can handle it in this arena. If they can handle that pressure it goes a long way.
“Rangers might have the ball for longer periods than we would normally allow the opposition but that happens in games or are you going to be on the front foot and still be brave? I am hoping that it is the second.
“I am hoping that we are on the front foot, being brave and playing the way that we can play. But you have to remember that always two teams on the football pitch and what is dictated to you.
“You have an ideal plan in your mind and you are hoping that it punches out that way but there are two teams out there and we have got to go out and make the right decisions more often than not, because if you don’t you will get punished for that.
“I know that it is going to be really tough evening. We will have to play at our best and sometimes your best might not be good enough. The quality of the opposition sometimes hurts you, that’s what happens.
“I am more concerned about our performance and I know if I play well we are more than capable of getting a performance and a result, there is absolutely no doubt in my mind about that.”
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