Dunfermline Athletic

Manager on Thursday

Thursday, 16th Dec 2021

16/12/21: “Everyday is a chance for you to keep moving your club forward, that’s my motto. Never sit back and rest on your laurels, keep going and that is what I’m saying to the players as well - keep thriving to be the best.”

This Saturday Dunfermline travel to Rugby Park to play a Kilmarnock side that has lost its last four league games instigating criticism from the stands but John Hughes dismissed any effect that will have on Killie manager Tommy Wright:-

“Tommy is long in the tooth he will thrive off that. They are at home and you are always going to be under pressure when you are one of the teams relegated. You are always going to be favourites to go back up and they are still well in the hunt.

“Kilmarnock is always a tough place to go and play on that AstroTurf. Tommy has assembled a right good squad down there. I saw them play against Hamilton and there were a lot of the fringe players which made me say to myself ‘one or two of them could do me’. So he has a good squad and I’m sure that it will come right but not on Saturday.”

Turning back to review Saturday’s 3-3 draw against Queen of the South, the Pars manager reflected:-

“When you go back and analyse it, I didn’t say too much after the match, but even before I look back at the match, I try and write down what I think I have seen. Obviously, you cannot give teams a goal of a start but if you keep passing the ball to the other team there is every chance they might go up the pitch and hurt you.

“The lucky thing for us is, no disrespect to Queen of the South, they kept doing it as well. That is how the game kept going back and forward. It was evident as well that we had to chase it and get all the forwards on to try and score a goal because when you have Kai you get crosses into the box.

“We had to soak it up exactly the way that we did at Hamilton. There was no point in everybody coming back the pitch because when we turn it over there is nobody to get it to. It was play the poacher’s role.”

The gaffer credited his players pointing out that there is no question that they are fighting for each other and fighting for the club:-

“We need to be better but when we did go down to a 4-4-2 or the two in midfield, as soon as we did that Lee Connelly was in behind the two. He came alive, scored himself a goal and there was too much room for him.

“We have to bottle up that midfield, keep the distances between each other and be a good solid shape that is hard to beat. Just when I think that we have got that, all of a sudden we lose three goals within that shape. That is what the frustration is.

“We will keep working away, they are very receptive to information, taking it on board and they do train very very hard. I am honest enough to say that some of the things that I see on the training pitch makes you say ‘I didn’t know he had that in his locker’. Is it gallous, is it composure, is it craft - you see it but they need to do it on a Saturday.

“They have full licence to go and express themselves. We have lost a few goals of late where it has been a mistake but you never see me having a go at a boy trying to do something right when they’ve made a mistake. As long as they are trying to do the right thing.

“We have all been there where we have had the nerves and the trepidation. That is not a skill set, that is a mental problem - a belief that you have to overcome.

“How are we not hitting the heights we did against Ayr United? That is my frustration, the supporters’ frustration is my frustration as well. With three in midfield everybody was saying it was the best that they had seen in years. It is our job to find out what is the reason.

“Every game is different but we want to get to the stage where other teams are worried about us, especially out there (at East End Park). We don’t want to be worried about teams, we want to take the game to them but we are a long way from that and it is work in progress.”

The manager maintains that his working in progress has been given the backing of Thomas Meggle (pictured above) who has given him permission to “spin a few plates”:-

“Me and Thomas work very close. We do not have loads and loads of money to go and buy players. It is beg, borrow, duck, dive but we are working hard on getting one or two in. I think the boys need a hand and short term hopefully we can get one or two experienced players in within our price range and budget.

“It all comes to trying to get the best deal for the club. Thomas is a good help asking what needs to be in place for this to happen and the Chairman is hands on just keeping us right. You think you are well down the road with someone then all of a sudden he is going to another club.”

So what has the manager identified as targets?

“I think there is room to bring one or two in but one or two maybe need to leave the club. At any football club there is always movement but if that’s not the case, I’m not too bothered about that. These boys are good enough, it is my job to get the best out of them and work on them. I have seen the best in them against Ayr United.

“Football evolves constantly, it is not a weekly thing, it is not a daily thing, it is an every hour thing.” Hughes instanced the opportunity that dropped on the lap of Hibs when he was a player there in 1998.

“The best player I ever played with walked in as a Trialist - Russell Latapy. If he walked in and I say I have no money and you don’t sign him you need strung up! If that kind of player is right in your face you need to get it done for the best of the club.

“You can put all the strategies in place but it changes constantly. That is the good thing about football, your phone never stops and you are hearing things. He might be available, you might put a hold on that one to try and get that one. You know what that’s called? Spinning plates!”

Russell Latapy was John Hughes team mate at Hibs, he was signed by him in 2003 when manager at Falkirk and then took to Inverness Caley Thistle as his assistant manager in January 2014. At Inverness the pairing brought Scottish Cup success to the Highlanders. The gaffer can still remember the day he met the Trinidadian midfielder:-

“I walked into training and all the boys had been up playing a game at Brechin and they all said wait until you see this player. I think Alex took him off after 45 minutes and wrapped him up. I said ‘we will see’ but we were only two minutes on the training pitch when he nutmegged me. I was going to smash him. It was right foot, left foot, dipping the shoulder and you thought this guy is a genius, this guy is the real deal.

“It might be a German who Thomas knows, a guy who used to be a wonder player, he has just fallen out and we can revamp him. You never know.

“Anything that we do, if you feel that it is the right decision for the football club you go and do it. Everyday is a chance for you to keep moving your club forward, that’s my motto. Never sit back and rest on your laurels, keep going and that is what I’m saying to the players as well - keep thriving to be the best.”

Manager also spoke to Jordan Burt for ParsTV

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