Dunfermline Athletic

Manager on Thursday

Thursday, 26th Aug 2021

26/08/21: PG - “The disappointment of the league performances so far has been the biggest bugbear with us because we didn’t see them coming.

With a fifteen day gap appearing between games Peter Grant switched the attention to the training ground and looked forward to the next fixture at home to Arbroath this Saturday. He explained his plan after the abandonment of the Friday night derby away to Raith Rovers:-

“We have just worked away in training. As I’ve said before training is more competitive than matches if you do it right. To be fair to the players, after the disappointment of the game getting abandoned their attitude has been great.

“You maybe have plans to do certain things and then all of a sudden you have to change everything because the situation changed. The boys to a man have been fantastic. The response to their training and the way that they have gone about their training has been excellent.

“Like everyone else connected with the game getting abandoned was a big disappointment that the game was abandoned because it is a big local derby and we felt that we wanted to put on a performance to try and win the game.

“I thought that we started quite well in the ten to fifteen minutes played. Then you get the kick to tell you that the game is off, that is when you have to respond again. We have made up for it with the training, their quality and commitment in training has been very good.

“The disappointment is that they have not taken the training ground performances into matches. I don’t see the performance on a Saturday coming in the couple of games that we have had. That is why the big disappointment is there because through the week they have been excellent.

“Sometimes you can nip in the bud if there is something happening but there is nothing to nip in the bud because their attitude and commitment to doing everything on the training ground, working away with their gym work - the determination and improvement in there has been fantastic so we have been delighted with them in that respect.

“The disappointment of the league performances so far has been the biggest bugbear with us because we didn’t see them coming. We did start well on Friday night but there is a responsibility to do that in every match. You have got to start well in games of football because teams make it very difficult for you.

“We could go back to year dot and the basics of football are to start the game properly, make sure that you are ready to start. Managers will shout week in week out, players will make all the noise in the dressing room before a game but as soon as that whistle goes that is when you are asked the questions. That is when you have to be able to respond and I thought we did that for the first ten to fifteen minutes but it was only ten to fifteen minutes.

“We have shown glimpses of form in the cup competition but we have not shown those glimpses in the league. We need to make sure that we get back to doing that in the league.”

Short though it was the players can take confidence from the 13 minutes at Stark’s Park especially after the disappointment of the previous week when Peter was particularly let down by the performance of his players, he continued:-

“The result you can handle and the Old Firm have shown in the last few weeks that they can beat people 5-0 and 6-0. It was just the way that we went about our business, not starting properly - look at those thirteen minutes compared to that the week prior.

“The first half hour, forty minutes were catastrophic and that was the more galling thing for me. Performance wise you can accept when teams are better than you but you can never do the things that we did in that period. Rangers started exactly the way we would like to start our games.

“I thought we started well the other evening but it is only a start. We are expecting that for 95 minutes. Whenever you play a game of football you have to be able to fight and scratch and hopefully your football is going to take over. That is the be all and end all of football matches, people are never going to make it easy for you. You have got to be determined to take the game by the scruff of the neck.

“We know that there are things that we could do better. That is always the most important thing, we are always driving each other on to try and make sure that determination is there and the guts are there once you cross that white line on a Saturday.”

Peter turned next to talk about individuals and he began by congratulating Aaron Comrie on becoming a dad:-

“His eyes are looking a bit baggy but we are delighted for him. It is absolutely brilliant news. As I have said, I’m so pleased for him it is a special time in your life. We are chuffed for him and he is a fantastic boy, a fantastic professional.

“To be fair to the boys they responded. Young Leon Jones came in and did exceptionally well even for that short period. That is what we have been trying to build - a squad of players who are capable of stepping in for each other and I think that we are proving that.

“I thought Vytas started the game really well. I’m really pleased for these guys, they have not been out of the team because they are not playing well. They have been out of the team because the guys in front of them have been doing a little bit better in certain aspects or they have not being doing poorly so they deserve to stay in. I’m really pleased with them.

“We know that we are getting a group that if we can keep them fit, the most difficult part for me will be trying to pick a team. They are going about their business properly and that shows with the changes that we had to make on Friday when the boys who came in were more than capable.”

It was a big event for Leon Jones making his Dunfermline debut in a local derby but Peter had no reservations when it came to starting the 23 year old in place of Aaron Comrie:-

“I have added these guys even after I saw the rest of the boys already here and the demands that they put on each other. They went about their business with professionalism.

“I wasn’t going to bring in boys that were going to make the group any weaker. That goes for the youngsters who have been brilliant. Their attitude and their performances have been excellent and they are champing at the bit. That is why I love young players to play and if they are not playing I would rather they go out on loan.

“In my heart of heart they have done that well that I trying to keep them round about us because of the standard that they are setting on the training ground. Their quality on the training ground has been pushing everybody else.

“I am on that middle line and don’t know the best thing to do for them because I always think that it is important to play matches. I keep moaning about too many substitutes, so I think it would be remiss of me that I don’t do that with some of my own young players and make sure that I make the right decision for them in the long term as well as us in the long term.”

Ryan Dow must have been particularly disappointed with the abandonment when he was starting his first game since being injured on 3rd February this year. Peter commented:-

“We have had to take our time with Ryan because you have to put the reins on him. He is desperate to play and I remember speaking to him before I came in the door for the first days training. He wanted to be back for pre season training and joining in with us but I said ‘no you are no’.

“I told him I knew what he could do, you are a talented boy but I want a fit Ryan Dow. I think that we are getting there all the time. He got 45 minutes at Ibrox then ten to fifteen on Friday night.

“I thought that it was important for him that he got an opportunity to start the match against Raith. He is a top top quality player and I am delighted that I have got him at my disposal. I am just delighted that he is part of this group because he is a player who I have always been concerned about when I was managing against him. I am delighted to have the opportunity to manage him.”

So will Peter stick with the same starting eleven given they only played for thirteen minutes or will he reassess his team selection due to it being a different opposition?

“I think that it is always important to reassess. I could say that we are going to go with the same starting eleven but there are different circumstances from Friday night, different types of players and coming up against something completely different.

“Not that any of the boys did anything wrong, whether I keep with the same team or not, they will find at times that they are left out of the team. It not through their performance, just that I feel that we need something different. The boys are very much aware of that.

“I know that as a manager sometimes you win and stand by that team but then when do you change it, do you wait until you get beat? I try and move with each game and take on board what each game is bringing up and what problems it will give. All I ask for every week is to have everybody fit. If I have everybody fit this week I will be delighted.

“I have a couple of boys who due to a couple of extra days training, picked up injuries from knocks in training. Two boys missed training on Monday and Tuesday but I’m hoping that they will be fit for the weekend.”

Since Dunfermline did not have a match last Saturday Peter took in Arbroath’s home match against Partick Thistle, and he thought that it was a strange game:-

“I thought Thistle were quite comfortable in the first period then, to be fair, it was 3-1 going on more in the second period. Arbroath did very well, they have a lot of experienced players who know how to play the game very well.

“Dick knows the game very well, his players know exactly every job they have to do on the football pitch. They are a fantastic team and, in respect of that, a team is what they are. That is the most important thing at any level.

“You need a group of players that fight and scratch and they do that for each other. They ask questions of you so we have to be prepared for that. If you are not willing to battle against anybody in this division you are going to struggle.

“Fighting and scratching doesn’t mean going out and kicking people you have to be on your front foot, be positive in everything you do. If you take a backward step sometimes you will end up with a bloody nose and that is what we have to be very careful of at the weekend.”

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