Manager on ThursdayThursday, 21st Apr 2022
21/04/22: JH - “The Partick game on Saturday is a game that we`re looking forward to, but we have to embrace the magnitude and the pressure, and you have to use that as your fuel.
Pars manager John Hughes agrees that his team has given themselves a fighting chance of finishing in eighth place and staving off the play offs and relegation. That comes despite admitting his team was certainly not at their best in their most recent game against Ayr United last Saturday:-
“I think nerves got a wee bit the better of us. It`s all part and parcel of it and we want to embrace that pressure. We`ll be playing against a Partick team on Saturday that are also going for the play-offs, so there`s plenty to play for, and we need to be a lot better than we played on Saturday but there`s been many a time this year that we`ve been a lot better than that and come away with nothing, so we`ll take it.”
The gaffer was honest enough to say after the match that they should have been a couple of goals down at half-time, but it just highlighted the spirit shown to come back in the second half with a performance on the front foot:-
"We were playing the game in their half. They were just playing on a turnover, and the goalie never had a save to make second half. We were very very brave in our shape in which we went, to try and get at them, and it worked for us.
"We`re delighted, at this time of the year to show that kind of character and spirit, and the magnitude of the game, to pick up the three points. It sets us up for the next two games. As I say, going into the Partick game on Saturday, a game that we`re looking forward to, but we have to embrace the magnitude and the pressure, and you have to use that as your fuel. You cannot let it affect your performance."
There have been games this season where results have not reflected what the performances merited. Maybe last Saturday it was nice to see it flip the other way.
"We`ll take that” said John. “We had to really shake it up at half-time, I just felt we were too tentative. Our passing was too safe, it was too slow, but all credit to them. To come in at half-time a goal down, not being at our best, to turn it around and being the better side in the second half.
“I don`t think Jakub had a save to make in the second half. Always being on the front foot, so to get that kind of reward, is very very pleasing.
"It sets us up for the last two games of the season, but we`re looking no further than Partick Thistle on Saturday, another team I`ve got great respect for. I`m good mates with Ian McCall, and they`re going for the play-offs, so they have all to play for."
Now in eight place but level on points, goal difference and goals scored with Ayr United, the amazing coincidence continues with both Dunfermline and Ayr United playing the same two teams in their final two Championship matches. John merely accepts that’s what it`s all about:-
“If that adds to it, or adds to the ingredients of it all, then as I say, you have to embrace it. I always give credit to all the teams. I don`t think Queen of the South are out of it yet - it`s going to be a hard, hard shift for them - but they`re not out of it.
"Every team that we`ve played against since I`ve come back into it are all capable of beating each other. There`s never a given in this league, and I think it will be like that from now until the end of the season."
Dunfermline will not allow themselves to look beyond the Partick game and that means improving their results away from home.
“If we`re going to get beat, there`s a way to get beat. What we`re trying to do here at Dunfermline is what we all signed into. To buy into the performance, and if we perform, we`re hoping that`s good enough to pick up the points, but we need to perform.
"We need to give the fans something to sing about, we need to let Partick know they`ve been in a game, and we expect that from them. That`s what makes football great, you`re allowed to go and compete and get stuck in, and may the best team win."
It is only a month since Dunfermline convincingly defeated Partick 4-1 at East End Park and although the boss would love to repeat that result, all games are different even if you`re playing against the same team:-
“The last time we were at Firhill, they beat us 1-0 from a wonder goal. I think it`ll be fine margins. It`ll be on the day, but you have to embrace it. We`re in a good place. I think we`re unbeaten here at Dunfermline for a long time, but we need to get that away form. There`s no better time than on Saturday to go and win."
As for controlling the nerves, John Hughes believes it is up to every individual:-
“You need to have a great belief in yourself, and a great trust and belief in your own game, and your team-mates`. First and foremost, it`s a team game, but you look after yourself, you have a great belief in what you can do, what can you bring to the table, be it offensive or defensive, and you make sure you go and apply it - everything that you`ve got. Don`t hold anything back, if it`s an hour you`ve got in yourself, then go and give it your best shot, and then the reinforcements will come on.”
The contributions of Saturday’s reinforcements, Reece Cole and Nikolay Todorov, will give the gaffer food for thought for this weekend, he added:-
“They’ve never been far away from it. If anybody has seen us a lot and seen some of the performances, the team has been picking itself.
“We’ve got something like 20-odd players and we always try to incorporate everybody in the training. I’ve always said that if it’s not a guy who’s starting but he turns up and gets a tap-in to score the goal that keeps us in the league, then he’s played his part.
“It’s going to be like that until the end of the season - all hands on deck, everyone coming off the bench and giving it everything they’ve got. If you’re not in the starting XI, you have to be the best team-mate and the best supporter of your team-mates, be positive and want the best for them because your chance will come. I’m hoping the other guys will be in the same mindset.”
Paul Allan remains out with a hamstring injury but Coll Donaldson and Graham Dorrans were back in training on Thursday confirmed John:-
“Coll had a wee groin problem but he’s been working very hard with the physio and getting a wee bit tender love and care. So, he’ll be back ready to go on Saturday.
“Graham Dorrans is out running now. When we’re on the training pitch, he’s doing a lot of running and fitness work. This weekend will be a little bit too early for him but if that running gets his intensity up and he gets through it injury-free then he should be available for next weekend. Even if it’s 20 minutes or half an hour, I would take that.”
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