Dunfermline Athletic

Manager on Thursday

Thursday, 19th Aug 2021

19/08/21: PG - “We have to play at our best and unfortunately we have probably not done that for the last couple of weeks.”

Peter Grant and Greg Shields will be making the trip to Stark’s Park for the second time in five days when Dunfermline meet Raith Rovers on Friday night’s cinch Championship match. On Sunday lunchtime they watched the Kirkcaldy side mount a great second half comeback to cause an upset in dumping Stephen Glass’ Aberdeen out of the Premier Sports Cup. Peter was impressed:-

“I thought in the first half Aberdeen dominated the game but to be fair to Raith Rovers they dug in. They had some moments in the first half even though they were fleeting. In the second half I thought that they thoroughly deserved it from their performance. They had a wee bit of fortune getting the free kick but before that they had two fantastic opportunities from crosses and I think that galvanised them.

“I thought they thoroughly deserved to win. It doesn’t surprise me, I know that they have good players. They have not changed much, other players who have come in have fitted in and John McGlynn has done really well with his recruitment on that respect.

“They have tried to replace the guys who have gone out with similar types but the balance in the group is still there in the group. He flips them in and out of different systems and the players are all comfortable in doing it.

“We know that they are a good side but we are a good side. When we play well we are a good side so the derby is set up for a cracker and it is a game that we’re all looking forward to.”

When the Pars take on the Rovers both sets of fans are up for the match possibly even more than the players but after contrasting results against Premiership opponents it is the travelling fans who will be the most concerned. Peter apologised to the fans who travelled to Ibrox for the unsavoury performance and knows how important it is to them that the trip back to West Fife is a pleasant one:-

“Any apology is any time that you lose a game of football because it is the fans who we are representing every week. When you don’t perform you are letting them down, the boys know that - they want to win for them every single week.

“I am not apologising for the boys effort. Their effort and commitment is there, that’s for sure. It is their quality on the night and their understanding of the game that wasn’t good enough but every time you pull on the jersey your name is on the back, they come off, but it is the badge on the front you are representing and that is the fans.”

Challenging the suggestion that he needs to ‘get the fans back onside’ the manager replied:-

“I’d be very disappointed if the fans were against the team. We know that we have to perform to keep them onside but we know that the fans are desperate for the team to do well. We know they get frustrated when we don’t play well but that’s the nature of being at a football club.”

The match at Stark’s Park will be the first Fife Derby in front of fans since the Scottish Cup tie in January 2019. 6013 fans turned out that day and Peter would be delighted to see as many there again on Friday night:-

“There’s no hiding place as a football player and that’s why I’m delighted that fans are back in, so they can see for themselves.

“It would be fantastic to win on Friday, just as it would have been fantastic to win at Morton or beat Partick Thistle.

“I’ve been fortunate enough to be involved in a lot of derbies — not just in Glasgow but everywhere — and I know what it means to the supporters. That’s what we are fighting for in every single training session, to be able to go out there, perform and be able to produce the goods for your supporters in every game.

“I am not playing for a stadium, I am playing for the supporters, that is always the case. This is our time and we are trying to create our own history winning football matches so people talk about us in the future.

“It is great that the next game is the derby match, it is a great game to be looking forward to against a very very good side who proved it last year when they were exceptional. This side here is a very good side and we have very good players as well but we have to play at our best and unfortunately we have probably not done that for the last couple of weeks.”

Peter is well aware that the team has conceded ten goals in three games, and defence has been a priority this week:-

“No matter what system you play, I think it’s important you keep clean sheets. I thought we lost soft goals even in the cup ties, never mind in the last few weeks. If you look at the week before, it wasn’t the system it was two set plays. That’s not the system that’s let you down, that’s responsibility. That’s having that know-how and that devilment to go and put your head on the line.

“Last Friday night we gave the ball away. If you look at the goals, time and time again it was an error from us. We gave two goals away from our throw-ins and that tells you enough. Of course, you don’t want to lose goals and we’ve lost eight goals in the last two games and 10 in three but the week prior people were saying we had scored nine in two.

“That’s why I’m very conscious of not getting sucked into the stats. The one thing I want to do is keep clean sheets, 100 per cent, it’s the biggest thing in football so you have to try to do that.

“I think it was the famous Johan Cruyff who said, ‘my goalkeeper is my first attacker and my striker is my first defender’. And I don’t think we’ve done that well enough as a group.

“You have got to take responsibility and do your job. It doesn’t matter who the personnel is, it’s your job to head the ball away or get the block in or not give possession away or not give away a silly penalty kick away with a bad choice. But that’s what we’ve done time and time again.

“Against Rangers we gave the ball away in the first few minutes, we conceded and all of a sudden all your plans go out of the window. For sure, it’s a big thing not to concede goals, I think that’s so, so important, but if we keep making the mistakes we’re doing there’s a possibility that happens. I’m not turning a blind eye to it in any shape or form, it’s something I’ve very conscious of, and it’s something we have to look at and adjust.”

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