Dunfermline Athletic

Manager on Thursday

Thursday, 16th Sep 2021

16/09/21: PG - “Our problem has not necessarily been the opposition, our problem has been ourselves.

Pars manager Peter Grant agreed that it would be an understatement to say it has been a tough few weeks for the club.

“There’s no getting away from that. When you are winning games and are playing well, you have a euphoria around you and need to calm it down. We have the opposite due to the situation we find ourselves in right now. That is the nature of the beast if you are not winning or playing well.

“I thought there were large periods on Saturday when we did well but I know the result wasn’t what everyone was looking for and that’s the most important thing.

“However, you have to get on with the work, you need to respond and train well. And I never see anything different from these guys. When I asked them to train, they train exceptionally well and show their commitment but things aren’t going for us on the Saturdays.

“That’s tough and there’s no hiding from it — but you’ve got to dig in. These are the moments you need to remember. You need to remember how bad you felt and make sure you never feel that way again.”

Peter had just written ‘good start’ in his notepad after his side had forced an early corner when Ayr scored the opener in just the second minute. He also noted that the performance was an improvement from the match against Arbroath:-

“Ayr United had three shots on target on Saturday and two crosses in the full ninety minutes and they end up winning the game 3-1. We had six efforts on goal and should have scored four of them. That is the disappointing thing for us, we felt that we were in a really good situation but these are the fine lines. If we keep making mistakes, we are not giving ourselves the opportunity. We always seem to be fighting that uphill battle.

“If we take away individual mistakes and the goals we have conceded, Saturday was a lot better, in respect of what we did with the ball and the chances we created — but the Achilles heel was conceding the goals the way we did.”

Asked if the Pars could cause an upset against Inverness Caledonian Thistle on Saturday Peter disputed the suggestion of upset:-

“I wouldn’t say that it would be an upset. It would be an upset on form, that’s for sure but that’s about it. I wouldn’t say it was an upset in any shape or form.

“If you look at Inverness against Partick Thistle at the weekend, Partick could have had two or three but then all of a sudden they are losing the game 3-1 because Inverness are a very good side with good players.

“When you read reports of other managers, talk to people who have been at games and when I go to games myself you see that there is such a fine line between teams in this division. Unfortunately for us at this moment in time, every time we make an error we are punished.

“We feel that it wouldn’t be an upset if we won the game, an upset on form for sure because Inverness have done exceptionally well. Anybody that goes five games, winning on the spin is a tremendous run.

“Obviously there is a completely different feel round about Inverness than there is to here at this moment in time, I understand that because they have won five on the bounce and we have won none. To say it was an upset? It wouldn’t be an upset to me and I would be disappointed if I didn’t think that I could go into this game and win it, that’s for sure.”

A first league win would be something to build on and be well received by the Pars fans who have only seen home wins this season over lower league opponents, Dumbarton and Stenhousemuir. Peter compared his experience at Alloa:-

“When I was at Alloa I never lost in twelve games and at the time nobody would have said Alloa could have gone 12 matches undefeated but that happened, we did it. We came out of a four game barren spell.

“I understand what the league is like, I know how difficult it is and you have to be concentrated and you cannot give goals away. Our problem has not necessarily been the opposition, our problem has been ourselves. That is the most galling thing more than anything else.

“I know that I have the players, and the squad of players that is more than capable when everybody is available but we have to perform. Talk has always been cheap, you have to perform when you go across the white line and we have not done that.

“There is no hiding from it, no getting away from that and that is why I know the criticism was just. I want to be a success here and turn all this negativity into positivity. You have to be concentrated at all times whether it is the opposition box to take your chances or in your own box where you are defending better as a group. Unfortunately on both ends of the field we have not done that well enough.”

Of Dunfermline’s nine matches this season, Dom Thomas has started six, come off the bench in two. He has was an unused sub at Ayr on Saturday and Peter revealed that was because the player who started the season as captain, was not doing enough on the park. He dismissed suggestion of any vendetta against the 25 year old who joined from Kilmarnock in July 2020:-

“I’ve spoken to Dom who is one of my favourite players. People are going on about why Dom isn’t playing. The biggest thing for me is, as a group, you need to work extremely hard.

“He knows, he said: ‘gaffer I’ve not been doing that’. He knows the reason he has been out the side. The minimum you ask from your football players is to give 100 per cent effort and commitment.

“I said right from the start that the most important thing is what we do without the ball. I know I’ve got good footballers but when you’ve not got the ball, you need to make it difficult for the opposition.

“If you aren’t willing to do that, you don’t play. You can’t play. We aren’t good enough to carry one player. Nobody in this division is good enough to carry one player. Even if you have that bit of class, the other teams’ drive, work ethic and determination will shine through.

“I’ve said that to Dom. He’s someone who has worn the captain’s armband here under me. I’m broaching the subject because people think there is a vendetta against Dom. There is anything but, he was captain.

“I left him out because I didn’t think he was working hard enough when he lost possession of the ball. He lost it and everyone else was running back to get it for him. He knows that, with the freedom I give him, he has to get back.

“I can’t have folk running back 40 or 50 yards, running past someone who is walking. Maybe Lionel Messi can get away with it — but not many others will get away with it. He’s been very receptive. He knows he needs to put the work in and feels he has been below that standard.

“I say to the players: ‘During the week, you select the team, I just pick it on Saturday.’ What I see on the training ground is so, so important.

“People can make stories up and try to make things happen. I’ve heard all the stuff but there is no issue with myself and Dom Thomas. He knows why he is out the side and agrees with it.

“I get on exceptionally well with Dom and have never had one moment’s problem with him — but the team is more important than any individual and it always will be.”

The gaffer said of player availability:-

“There’s a couple of boys who haven’t trained after picking up knocks at the weekend. I’m hoping at least one of them will be ready and will leave the other as long as possible.

“The ones who missed last weekend will still be out this weekend. The pleasing thing is this would be an easy time to find injuries, when you’re not playing particularly well or having a hard time. But this group of boys have been desperate to get on the training field, even the ones who have been injured.”

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