Manager on ThursdayThursday, 10th Mar 2022
10/03/22: “No matter the pressure it brings, we need to be up for the game and I expect Hamilton will be right up for it too.
John Hughes is looking forward to Saturday’s trip to Hamilton. He confessed that the first time there this season, back in December, Hamilton were the better team but the visitors were not helped by a refereeing decision that handed the home side a penalty and reduced Dunfermline to ten men. He said:-
“Last time we played there the referee gave them a penalty and sent Graham Dorrans off. If you`re talking about lady luck, you can look at that. We`re hoping we don`t get a repeat of that again.”
The Pars captain’s red card was subsequently rescinded but that, and going behind from the penalty, had a large bearing on the outcome of the match. The manager felt the return at East End Park in January was a vast improvement when Dunfermline deservedly won 1-0. He predicted a really tough football match as every one will be between now and the end of the season:-
“It will be a close game, I’m really looking forward to it, I always enjoy going to Hamilton. No matter the pressure it brings, we need to be up for the game and I expect Hamilton will be right up for it too.
“Hamilton at Hamilton is a good test. They’ll be hurting after Saturday’s result and it’s all to play for for Hamilton - they were up there and now are back down. But we’ve got all to play for as well, so the ingredients are there for a great game.
“That’s what Scottish football is all about at this time of the year. Every game in the league means something. Teams are going for play-offs, teams are going for the league, teams are fighting relegation. Every team in the league is going for something.
“I’ve been in this situation before and it’s a case of embracing that. Your top players will embrace it and use it as fuel to go and win the game. From now until the end of the season, we know what we’re up against, we know who we’re playing and I think the boys are saying, ‘come on then, let’s bring it on’.”
There was general agreement that the Pars performance over the 90 minutes on Saturday could have resulted in four or five goals on another day. Just as good fortune was missing at Hamilton last time however that ingredient was also absent at Gayfield last Saturday, the manager continued:-
“You make your own luck and you have to take the positives from the match on Saturday, just like we did from the Kilmarnock game the week before. We are talking about fine, fine margins. In the last game-and-a-half, I look at Efe hitting the crossbar against Killie and on Saturday there we hit the woodwork two or three times.
“I couldn’t say too much to the boys after Arbroath. Maybe there was a soft goal and our concentration levels out the traps could have done better but in terms of really dominating the game, we created chances in abundance. If we can repeat that performance against Hamilton and take our chances, then hopefully we will be picking up the three points.
“We are fully aware of the amount of games left, and how much we need to get back to winning ways. We can’t do anything about the teams around about us. We can’t control that and we need to focus on what we are doing, stick to the process and keep the performance levels up.
“Football owes you nothing. Everything you get out of football, you have to be prepared to put in. That’s mindset we are in at the moment. We don’t need a red carpet rolled out - we are prepared to roll our sleeves up. We will stick in there, we have all these teams to play so there is all to play for.”
The team that started at Arbroath showed two changes from the previous week. Aaron Comrie returned from his one match suspension and Kevin O’Hara was preferred up front. The gaffer explained his thinking behind the change:-
“We’ve chopped and changed it and they are different kinds of strikers. Big McCann’s got that physical presence and can be a handful, but he’s not a prolific goalscorer. More so O’Hara is a prolific goalscorer and I felt Kevin led the line very, very well on Saturday and worked very, very hard. He’s probably the most natural goalscorer we’ve got at the club.
“It’s horses for courses. Can we get two up there? Can we play a different shape? We’re looking at all avenues in terms of team selection to give us an advantage. That’s what I enjoy about management. You have to come up with the team and pick the team - and the shape - you think will go and win you the game. It doesn’t always work. Against Arbroath on Saturday, we went five at the back, which we’ve not really done since I’ve been here, and it worked.”
Looking at player availability for this weekend Dunfermline will still be without Deniz Mehmet (finger injury) and Bobby Kamwa (foot injury) but the squad is currently covid free and everyone else fit to play.
John Hughes closed saying that he is really looking forward to the next few months and to the challenges ahead, stressing how important the role of supporters is:-
“I think the fans have got a massive part to play. Even on Saturday, they applauded the team off the pitch - I`ve said that on many occasions - because they saw the effort. They saw the style of play, the domination of the game, and I think they had that ironic smile on their faces as well that, if you keep doing that, it`s going to turn.
“I said after the game that somebody`s going to get a sore one. Hopefully there can be a few sore ones between now and the end of the season, but we take it one game at a time. There`s no point looking too far down the line.”
Watch John Hughes interview with Jordan Burt for PARStv
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