Manager on ThursdayThursday, 8th Sep 2022
08/09/22: JM key message - “We`re only six games in. I wouldn`t class that as a run …..
There was a change to the schedule this week so Thursday was a day off for the players and manager James McPake conducted his usual pre match meeting with the media over Zoom. He explained the change away from the normal week:-
"They had a tough day [training] yesterday, it certainly isn`t a reward. It`s just when you periodise training - you do different things on different days. It was a good chance to build up at the start of this week and come off them a bit towards the tail end. They`ll be fresh and we`ll be ready to go Saturday."
Saturday’s game is another away match this time at New Douglas Park against Clyde. The Bully Wee are managed by Danny Lennon who is coming up for five years in that position. James noted that as a strength and expressed his views on the fixture:-
"It`s going to be a tough game, we know they`re not on a fantastic run at the moment but they have got an experienced manager in there, they`ve got experienced players. They`ll be looking to bounce back and, for me, it`s a really big game for us.
“We need to go down there and perform the way we did at Queen of the South. Anything less than that and we could be left looking very silly. We can`t look into their last few performances, we need to be right and we need to go down and perform the way we have been."
Certainly if Dunfermline can replicate the kind of form they showed in the 2-0 win at Palmerston Park last weekend the travelling support will have something to cheer about. James looked back to Saturday:-
"We asked the players to start fast. We knew that Queen of the South had been at Ibrox and played against a good Rangers side, and done well. That was the plan for starting fast, this week we need to come out the same way. We need to be on the front foot. Clyde will build from the back, similar to the way Airdrie did when they came to East End Park. So it`s an interesting game. The one thing that Clyde do is create a lot of chances. We`ll be asked plenty questions defensively as a team.”
Last weekend’s shut out required keeper Deniz Mehmet to save a second half penalty with the score 2-0 but the manager felt that it didn’t change the game too much:-
"Other than we should have been more comfortable in the game. It was still a bit edgy at times. It was a good performance but that was all down to the way the players started the game and how they came out. It showed the difference as well when we get that two-goal cushion - how the game is different when you play with that bit of freedom."
Reporting on his players’ availability, James said:-
"Craig Wighton we could see next week. Paul Allan is healing but he`s still in the moon boot. That probably tells its own story. Everybody else is fine. Kevin [O`Hara] is a lot better. Credit to Kevin, he wanted to play with an injury and he ran himself into the ground. He was was really effective in the way we tried to press Queens. He`ll be fine for Saturday, everyone else is fine. Touch wood."
Unbeaten in the league campaign the task is just to keep the momentum going, he continued:-
"We take it one game at a time, but I`m not going to sit here and say we`re not aware of how well we`ve started. I think the key message here is we`re only six games in. I wouldn`t class that as a run yet, six games only. We`ve shown that we can compete, even in the Premier Sports Cup games as well.
“When you add all that up, you might start to look at a bit of consistency in our play. Which is good, but Saturday is another tough test away from home. Two away games on the bounce, that`s a real test of character as well, for the players to go there against a team... similar, I`d say to Kelty. Although Clyde have won, they`ve not won recently and we`re going there with people saying that we are favourites but it`s a tough, tough game. We can only take it one game at a time. I know it`s a cliche but it is particularly true. Especially after last season."
In the last week it has been confirmed that Kyle Benedictus is the club captain and Chris Hamilton his vice captain. No one was surprised that Kyle was officially confirmed in that role, one the 30 year old defender has performed in all ten games so far this season and the manager had no hesitation in selecting a 21 year old as vice captain:-
"Chris has been captain in Scotland youth teams, he`s been captain in the Hearts youth teams. He gets it, he`s a Dunfermline fan and he knows what this club means to the people. He is young but he`s one of those young players who lead, probably more by example - the way he trains and the way he plays. I`ve no issue with that at all and he`s going to be a good Dunfermline player for the future as well."
While taking no credit for the successful inclusion of loanee Chris Mochrie in the Scotland U21 squad to face Northern Ireland on 22nd and 25th of this month, the Dunfermline manager was delighted:-
"We`re here to help the boy and Chris has been fantastic since he came in. I spoke to Liam Fox as soon as I got this job and Chris was one he said to take. I knew him - I was in Dundee for eight years. Having been involved in the academy side of things, and Chris was playing for Dundee United at the time. I`m delighted for him.
“It`s good for him to go away, I know Josh Mulligan is in it as well, which is excellent for him. I`m delighted for Chris and I hope he does well. He`s an important player for us and he`s been excellent since he came in from Dundee United. It`s all down to him though."
Chris now has the prospect of matches over the international weekend while he was not eligible to play in the Pars SPFL Trust Trophy match against Celtic B since he was cup tied as a consequence of playing for Dundee United B against Elgin City last month.
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