Dunfermline Athletic

Manager on Thursday

Thursday, 26th Jan 2023

26/01/23: JM - “The players are good, the spirit is still there, there are good characters in the dressing room and they have trained well in the last couple of days.”

It is almost the end of January and for just the third time this season Dunfermline prepare for their next match on the back of a defeat. James McPake reflected on the two cup exits to Championship clubs and looked forward to meeting Clyde this weekend:-

“It was fine, as I said after the game and after watching the video, performance in the first half was excellent. We are disappointed obviously to lose four goals. The nature of the goals were a bit unfortunate in the game but as I said on Tuesday night, credit to their top end of their pitch - they punished us.

“Sometimes you carry that wee bit of luck and I think if we had got the goal early on it could have been different. The players are good, the spirit is still there, there are good characters in the dressing room and they have trained well in the last couple of days.”

The Fifers travel as league leaders to Hamilton on Saturday to meet Clyde and James claimed that he would take the exact same result again because it was a good performance, a clean sheet and three points. Clyde have won only one league match out of their eleven at home this season but James warned that they are a team coming off the back of what would have been a sore result up at Peterhead:-

“They have a really experienced manager who will have them ready. We saw what they were like here, I think it was Jim Duffy`s first game that day. They came and they were 2-0 up, so there`s no easy games in any league. Look at Darvel and Aberdeen, it just shows that you need to be be prepared. It`s a tough game, it`s now back to league business.

“Every game we play now is going to be in the league. Gone are the weekends off when you can focus on the cups. Full focus is back to the league, but it`ll be a really tough game, Jim will have them set up with a game plan to beat us but we just need to focus on ourselves."

That focus includes absorbing the positive way his team moved the ball and the numerous chances created over the two cup games:-

“Both teams are in the league above us but I think we acquitted ourselves really well. They were both tricky pitches so that is testament to our players. For 84 minutes Tuesday night’s game was even. It was a bit like basketball at times, both teams would attack and then the other team would attack. It probably made it exciting for the fans that were there.

“When you look back there are things that we need to get better at but we can’t be too critical of the players for the effort they showed and that is the message to them - just get back to keep doing what we have been doing. T

“As a coaching staff we will tidy up on a couple of things that we have watched in the game, obviously the short corner is one. It was really disappointing because we have been good from setplays, both for and against. We are not always scoring goals in the opposition box but we have made a lot of first contacts and kept a lot of attacks alive. In our own box we have been really good except for the Peterhead game and when I think back, maybe Ross County where they scored from one.

“That was disappointing because it is a massive part of the game, you can be hurt at any point from a setplay. It was good play from Paul McMullan to play it quick, we will look at all that and tidy up on it.”

Setplays continue to be work in progress but James feels that you also have to give players an element of freedom:-

“They have to play with a bit of imagination as well. Joe (Chalmers) played one to Benedictus who made a great connection on the volley but he put it over the bar. We do spend a lot of time going over it and watching it because it is so important.

“You cannot even say it is a trend or that in modern day football that it has become so important. It is one of the things that has been consistent all through when you watch big games and big tournaments right down to Sunday League, setplays are massive.

“If you can work something great, if not you have to be able to defend your box which we saw late on against Edinburgh - when balls were coming in we were quite comfortable heading them away. The players are all comfortable doing it.

“That was one of the first things that we did when we first came in - try and get that right. So it is disappointing when that happens but you have also got to be realistic - you are facing eight or nine corners a game. Over the course of a season you are going to slip up at some point so it gives you that wee reminder just how important they are.”

The manager reported that all his players had come through those games unscathed:-

“They are fine, great actually everybody trained today. We are still minus Paul Allan but he is getting better. Everybody is great, both games the stats were really good for distance run, high speed running and sprint distance. We are pleased with that but not surprised really.”

Asked if he had any news of new signings, the gaffer closed:-

"We`re trying really hard and we`ll maybe know by Saturday. There`s a couple there that will help our squad if we can get it done. If not then it just wasn`t to be in this window. We`re looking at precontracts, we`re looking at contracts just now. Other teams are clearly doing that with a couple of our players as well such as regarding Josh, because there were a couple of phone calls about him. I`m hopeful but I`ll not be pushed into doing any. Again, it`s not the answer everybody wants to hear but it has to be the right fit. The ones that we have identified certainly are. We`ll see what happens."

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