Manager on ThursdayThursday, 4th Aug 2022
04/08/22: JM calls for multi ball usage
He would always ask for more from a game but James McPake was delighted with the three points from the first league game of the season.
“We will never rest on it because we want to keep improving but it is the perfect start to any season getting three points as quickly as you can, ideally in the first game because it can become a burden. I was delighted for the players who have worked hard throughout pre season and all plaudits to them.”
Last season it took 14 league matches before Dunfermline won three points and there are still players in the home dressing room who experienced that winless period. James felt that might have been creeping into their minds had they not won on Saturday:-
“Could this be the same as last season? The mentality and the mood has shifted, it is different in there. That is not having a go at any other manager but they seem confident. Another manager last season got them through the group stages of the cup, we couldn’t manage to do that but it can become a real worry when you don’t get that win and a prime example is that it went fourteen games. That is crushing when you are in that dressing room.
“I had that a little at Dundee last season. We were playing really well, we should have beaten Rangers but missed a penalty in that game. We drew 2-2 with Hibs when we should have beaten them, drew 2-2 with St Mirren when we should have beaten them. Then you look ahead and Celtic are coming!
“If you go on runs like that, even in this league you look at going here and there and start wondering where are the three points coming from if you don’t get them earlier on. I’m delighted to get them but we move that to one side and the game against Edinburgh this weekend.”
Saturday pitches James McPake up against FC Edinburgh manager Alan Maybury who he played with at Hibs and an opposition player in former Dundee charge 36 year old Liam Fontaine who he claims he has a great admiration for.
“Fonts was fantastic for me, a really great character and a great leader. In my time as a manager he was a great help as a senior pro and he is a good signing for FC Edinburgh. He has a great knowledge of the game and even though he is a bit older, he is really fit and is just one of the game’s good guys.
“I still think that he could have done well full time and that’s no disrespect to any part time team, but he looks after himself.”
When James was a player at Coventry City he came up against Liam Fontaine (pictured above)when he was at Bristol City in Championship matches in March 2009 and February 2010. He remarked:-
“This is a guy who has played approaching 300 games in the English Championship, played in play off finals down there, he has won the Scottish Cup up here with Hibs, he has won a title with Ross County, he has got promoted with Dundee. He has had a fantastic career, he is a good player but most of all he is a really good guy so I’m looking forward to seeing him on Saturday - I hope he does really well but is on the end of a losing side.
“It is always good to catch up with him. Liam Fontaine is someone who I will always keep in contact with and one day in the future I hope to work with him. That is how highly I regard Liam. He helped me with the B team at Dundee when I was the manager and in the dressing room he was great for me.
“In their technical area they have Alan Maybury and Mark Kerr as well who I know. So it’s a game that we are looking forward to. It is our first away league game, their first league game at home on their new pitch so it will be a big day for them and they will be looking to put a show on.
“Alan went in late in the season and he did a great job to get them promoted. Credit to him for doing that. He will be looking to progress them as a football club. Mark Kerr is a good friend of mine as well but there will be no friends on Saturday.”
Someone else who has crossed paths with the Dunfermline manager is the 10000 metres Commonwealth Games champion, Eilish McColgan. James watched her race on Wednesday night and congratulated her tremendous success:-
“She was outstanding and well done to her. She actually did a running session with our Dundee squad a few years ago on a track up in Dundee.”
Eilish’s mother attributed the win to a race going the way that they had planned it but James felt that you could barely say that about a football match:-
“Certain things in a game can go the way you planned it - if you score from a setplay, if you do something in the game like Josh Edwards’ goal against Buckie we were quick to get it wide from the middle of the pitch to tee up a shot. We planned that but you can put scenarios into their head. It is different in a race because it is an individual sport but in football you are planning for all sorts of things like not conceding.”
Looking at Saturday’s match he gave his views on how Edinburgh will try and stop his team:-
“My frustrations about playing away from home is that teams will try to slow the game down.
“When we are at home we can plan to have the ball back in play quickly by using multi ball. Edinburgh will be the opposite, they will slow the game down, there will not be multi ball. We need to find a way to deal with that.
“We saw that at East Fife which was really frustrating and if I had the choice, then like in England, every club would have to use multi ball because you find teams slowing the game down. It is a hard one for referees because, particularly at stadiums like East Fife and Meadowbank where there are big open areas, if the goalkeeper can walk to get the ball the referee can’t do too much.
“Edinburgh are in control of it because it is their home and they will look to do that, I have no doubt about it. Teams will do that against us and we have to make sure that when we have the ball that we are really ruthless. We all talk about VAR but I am an advocate for every club having to use multi ball and being consistent about it because it is frustrating and I don’t think it is right that teams can just take as long as they want to get the ball back.
“I think that there should be duty from the SFA, the SPFL whoever it is that makes these decisions that we all use multi ball. I’m not just saying this because I’m at Dunfermline, I used multi ball at Dundee in the Premiership. When you choose to use it you have to use it all season. I knew that we were going to have to use it against Celtic and Rangers - far better teams than us - they have the opportunity and use it.
“It is the right way to play football. I experienced it in England where it is a rule to do it down there. Up here for some reason you get a choice but make everybody use it, it will make the game more exciting for fans, a better spectacle for all of us - players, managers and people watching it on TV.
“It is something that I believe in and it will help our game. We saw against East Fife it took a minute for the ball to come back in and it was boring for the fans. So that is one thing that I’d like to see introduced but Edinburgh will do what they believe will help them win the game. I think that they will try and slow the game down.
“I know time wasting is a massive part of the game, we will use it but when we time wasted on Saturday we got the ball in the corner and we kept it down there. That is clever football, what we didn’t do was to take ages to get the ball back in play because it is against everything that I want to do.”
Asked the weekly question about any players coming in, the manager revealed that former Ayr United and Livingston player, Robbie Crawford has been training with Dunfermline all week:-
“He has been excellent. I’m really impressed with him and he is a player who I know but when you get to work with players like that you see how good he is.
“He is a good player who has had a good career, played in the Premierleague and if he hadn’t changed his contract and decided to leave Motherwell, he would still have had another year at Motherwell. When he has been in training with us his attitude has been excellent.”
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