Dunfermline Athletic

Manager on two signings

Monday, 29th Jun 2020

29/06/20: Stevie Crawford has made his first two new signings for the 2020-2021 season. Paul Watson and Steven Whittaker are the players arriving at East End Park today.

The former Dundee United central defender Paul Watson has been signed on a two year deal and Steven Whittaker signs from Hibs on a one year deal as player/coach.

The Pars boss was delighted to bring in two experienced players who between them have 889 senior appearances, he told the website:-

“Paul is an experienced Championship player and was part of a promotion winning side last year, so I am absolutely delighted to bring in someone of that stature.”

Stevie was also pleased to bring in a player who has 31 Scotland caps to his name:-

“Steven was one that was put to us. His agent had got in touch with us to make us aware that he was free. We have been working in the background on that one. It is slightly different because Steven is also looking ahead to getting involved in the coaching set up as well. He will be coming here as a player but he will have a valued opinion in the coaches room as well.

“It is exciting, the two have obviously got qualities that they bring to us in terms of experience as well. Along with the younger ones they can help us with the push we try and make next season.

“I have always said that to allow young talent to flourish that you need the right types around about. This time last year there was a big turnaround in the playing squad we had but when you look at the things that we are going to face this year with the season being 27 games, the problems of the virus and the challenges that has brought to us, we felt that with a slightly different market out there, that these two guys would bring quality.

“It’s not just on the pitch, the way they behave, the way they train and apply themselves will accelerate the growth in the young ones that we have got here.”

Stevie clarified the player/coach role that he has handed the former Hibs, Rangers and Norwich City player:-

“Steven can play in a number of positions. Even watching him towards the end of the season there with Hibs, he was playing in a defensive midfield role. He is very good on the ball, he has a very good football brain and is a very good communicator so in the main that is where we see him playing.”

Steven was sent off in his final match for Hibs at Pittodrie on 7th March and Stevie Crawford smiled as he continued:-

“Hopefully he will not get too many of them in terms of the competitive element. I think it was important that it is not Steven coming to a club like Dunfermline just purely as a player but looking for the first steps into coaching.

“He has been doing a little bit of coaching last year at Hibs but the early parts of our conversations were about him playing. He spoke to several different parties on that side of it and I’m sure that there were opportunities there for him to play in a higher league but we spoke and hit it off. Given the homework that he had done on myself and Dunfermline and likewise the homework that we had done on him, it just seemed a good fit.”

It did not miss the manager that Whittaker is ten years younger that the rest of the Dunfermline coaching staff. A different generation with a different perspective of how the modern footballer plays and hopes that gives an added incite that he will be trying to use:-

“He comes in as a player/coach. It can be a difficult step to take at times and although we are going to have him on the pitch as often as we can but it is important for him that the players and supporters understand that he is here to also develop himself as a coach as well. That is where he sees his longer term future.”

Stevie has an eye on adding further players to his squad with a wide attacking player his priority:-

“I think that takes us to 20 including the younger ones. I don’t want to narrow it down saying that we are going to bring in x amount of players but I still think to be competitive in the Championship next season that we have got to get the balance right between experience and those with youthfulness who are going to be exciting and have a lot of their career ahead of them as well.

“I wouldn’t hide the fact that we are needing to look at a wide attacking player. We are continually looking at what the current market holds for us.”

How soon will you be back in the market?

“It’s dangerous to predict. When I spoke to you last week, and although we had been working in the background, I did not see these two coming over the line on the same day and possibly coming as soon as this.

“I think that shows the allure of Dunfermline as a club still. I know that Steven and Paul spoke very highly of Dunfermline which is nice because we keep saying that we would love to see us in the Premiership.

“Paul has just won the Championship with Dundee United and he has done his homework and he is excited with the prospect of kicking on in that vein next season.

“Steven having played for Hibs for a number of years has seen this move attractive enough to want to be part of this journey that we hope to be taking.”

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