Dunfermline Athletic

Manager on Thursday

Thursday, 2nd Dec 2021

02/12/21: JH - “If we could play twelve men we would be a great team!

The Pars go west again this weekend to play a Hamilton Academical team that is level on points with them and manager John Hughes is sure that they will be facing a team hurting from the late Kilmarnock double to deny them a win in Tuesday night’s SPFL Trophy tie and the Scottish Cup exit on Saturday to Auchinleck Talbot.

“Hamilton is a club that I have always grown up competing against, challenging for promotions and fighting relegations. They have done a wonderful job over the years.

“They have their model to get the young ones in and let them go and play football hoping that they can still get success but sell them on. It’s no different from anybody else’s model, it’s just that there it is in place. What we are trying to do now is to get our model in place.

“I’m looking forward to it, I watched them on Tuesday night and I think a lot of the players from last year are still there. They weren’t bad last year in the SPL and they will have good experience so we will be right up against it.

“It is a challenge but it is about what we do, how we prepare for the game and how we take the game to them.

“We need to keep believing in the process. I keep mentioning that word ‘process’ it is something that I maybe need to sit the players down and tell them exactly what it is. It is where the club is going, be part of it and what I expect of them when we get there. They have to see it.

“It is our job to educate players here, give them an understanding of the game. They have to see how football is played and then bring that to the table. If they see it as kick and rush then this is maybe not the team for you.”

The manager was bitterly disappointed with Friday’s result against Partick Thistle. He felt that the game was even and one goal was always going to be enough to win it:-

“All credit to Partick, Ian McCall has been at it for a while. I have worked under Ian he has some good players there but they knew that they were in a game.

“I know what our objective is in this league but it would have been nice to get into the next round of the cup. There cannot be an acceptance of being knocked out. It is my job to keep my emotions in check but there was a little bit of frustration for the reason that I felt for the first twenty minutes ‘here we go again’ and then we lost our way a bit.

“We tried to put it right in the second half and for the first twenty minutes ‘here we go again’ but then it dipped. So the consistency of what we are looking has to be there for ninety minutes. It cannot be twenty minutes here and there, it has to be for ninety minutes.

“In terms of where we are, we have started to tick a lot of the boxes playing here. Time will tell but if we can put that performance on against Ayr United then we have put that to right. People were telling me that there was a problem playing at home with a little bit trepidation. I never saw that.”

The next thing in the gaffer’s sights is the Pars away form. The win at Inverness on 13th November was the first away from home in the league since October the previous year:-

”I was going through the stats and it is a terrible away record that we have got so we have to put that right. To put that right we have to be at it for ninety minutes never come off it and keep believing in it.

“All the hard work that we are doing on the training pitch gets you ready to go and do what you do on a Saturday. When we go and train there has to be a standard at the football club and we are still striving to reach that standard. On the other hand I’m seeing so so many guys who are loving it, demanding of each other, helping each other and dragging each other through.

“Even on the pitch you can hear it - ‘let’s get it done right’. It is not the shouts of ‘let’s get stuck in’ it is knowing what is required and ‘let’s do it right’. They are actually starting to police the tactical stuff themselves, there are a lot of positives.”

When John Hughes arrived at East End Park he made it known that Dunfermline were too easy to score against. Since then he has tried to make sure that they keep a solid shape and ensure their distances are right to cover for each other:-

“It has worked a treat, you still have to play the football but on Friday night I felt that we lacked the penetration. You say to yourself that’s crying out for two upfront.

“If we could play twelve men we would be a great team! You would still have everything that you wanted but it is up to us as coaches to look at it and see what we have to do here. All that we are trying to do is help them and make it as easy as we can for them.

“We want to have that threat going forward, even away from home and score the goals. Big Todorov came on, he had two shots at goal and another half chance and that was because we had bodies up the pitch but it left us a wee bit short in midfield.

“It is square pegs in round holes. Kai Kennedy can play right side, left side and he can play number ten. I don’t know if I have a number ten at the club. We have plenty number tens who want to go forward and score a goal. But we don’t have a number ten who wants to come back and help the midfield and get up there. Maybe Kai might fill that void.

“Taking nothing away from the victory up at Inverness with the 4-4-2, I thought with the two boys right upfront the team worked very hard but we were clinging on and Inverness were the better team.

“Kevin O’Hara is arguably the best striker at the club and he has found himself sitting on the bench. He never moans, he comes in and gets on with it. He gets his head down and trains very very well but he wants to play on the shoulder, score goals and get on the crosses. He is not that number ten.

“These are the challenges that we have got and it is non stop. I like what I have got in terms of the kids that I have got at the club - Matty Todd, Paul Allan, young Miller Fenton and Lewis McCann. If you are happy with what you have got, I would like to sit down with the chairman and make sure we keep them for longer at the club.

“You have to earn it, it is all incentive based. Everything that we are doing is work, work, work - earn it, earn it earn it, be part of it. That is something that I will have to put to the chairman.”

Above: Lewis Martin in action v Hamilton Academical, February 2017

John Hughes intends to address this during the January transfer window admitting that he also has his eye on one or two potential signings.

“I have had the nod from Thomas Meggle - go and do your stuff in terms of spinning the plates. It was an easy conversation, he is so helpful. He has his finger on the pulse and I’m not wanting money.”

“Through all that we have to make sure that we are winning football matches. Honestly we cannot look too far in front of ourselves because we are still in the mire, we are where we are for a reason and we need to keep working hard to get out of that.”

Lewis Martin played thirty minutes in Tuesday’s friendly against a Hibs XI and the manager commented on the 25 year old defender who has not played a competitive match since 10th March last year:-

“Lewis is training with us and took part on Tuesday. He is just trying to recover from injury, he is out of contract but we have still given him all the training facilities. He is probably a wee bit behind the rest of them but he has done all his hard work and back into it with us.

“He now needs game time to get sharp and we will need to assess him to see if he is one we might look at if he could do us a turn.”

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