Dunfermline Athletic

Praise where it is due

Monday, 22nd May 2023

Bounce back deserves special recognition

Manager James McPake admits that he is immensely proud of his players and especially those who recovered from the disaster of relegation to return to the Championship in his title winning team.

The gaffer stressed that a pleasing aspect of the season in which they lost only one league game and broke numerous club records, is the way the players responded when he took over at the helm.

“I’m quick to go on about things when they are negative or when the players aren’t good enough or my decisions weren’t good enough or the staff’s decisions aren’t good enough and you sometimes come out and you are maybe a little bit too hard on yourself or the group.

“I think that it is important that they get the recognition that they do deserve for bouncing back really because that couldn’t have been easy. It has been a tough league, it has not been by no stretch of the imagination has it been really easy.”

Dunfermline won League One by a 14 point margin over second placed Falkirk and secured the title with three matches remaining but James recalled the challenges along the way:-

“There have been some games where we have taken a blow and can we come back from that? That is when you really find out the character of players. That and in pre-season when you are asking them to push themselves to the limit really. They did that and proved that to us quickly then in the friendlies you start seeing just how good some of them are.

Above: Kyle Benedictus, Chris Hamilton and Max Little

“You can go and watch players, I do that a lot and think ‘he is a really good player’ and they are, but it is when you work with them day to day and you just see how good they can be and how much better they want to be.”

To the thirteen players remaining from the nightmare of a season that saw Dunfermline relegated to League One, James McPake added Kyle Benedictus, Chris Hamilton and Max Little. Then there were the five on-loan players but the whole squad happily took on board the manager’s hard work ethic and desire to play to their maximum. He was particularly pleased with the way two of the relegation survivors reacted:-

“Aaron Comrie certainly comes into that category and he is at a really good age and has played a lot of football for someone his age. Dave knew him from St Johnstone, that’s where the link came from, and while at Dundee we were looking at that position but Aaron was under contract here.

“He deserves the credit, similar to Rhys Breen (pictured above)both of them believed that they did not play enough in the season before last. They were disappointed in that and it was a double blow when you get a relegation and you do not know what is next. For them to bounce back and to start so quickly and be consistent so quickly then they deserve a lot of credit.” You

When the gaffer came in he opted not to make huge changes that others might have been tempted to do. As he looks likely to rely on the majority of his league winning squad in the Championship next season, James feels that consistency can play a major role:-

“In my opinion I think for the full squad it is massive. You do see wholesale changes at football clubs and a lot of time it works, a lot of the time it doesn’t work. We could have tried that but obviously there are cost implications when players are under contract. Having that consistency in your group and the standard that these lads set was really important.”



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