Manager on ThursdayThursday, 29th Dec 2016
29/12/16: Having played every team in the league both home and away Manager Allan Johnston gave his mid term assessment.
Speaking to this website on Thursday Allan Johnston said:-
"We have picked up since the beginning of the season when we started poorly. It maybe took us a bit of time adjusting to the new league but there is still a long way to go."
After 18 league matches, the Pars have amassed 18 points and sit seventh on account of a better goal difference. AJ continued:-
"We want to be a lot higher up the league table, competing at the top end of the table. That is the incentive for the players, I think they are more than capable of doing it. They have showed against teams like Falkirk earlier in the week that they can compete at that level. It is just having the consistency to do it week in week out."
The manager has optimism and confidence that the second half of the season can be a better one for Dunfermline:-
"We have been in the majority of games, I don`t think there is much between the teams. It is just as against Falkirk, that final pass and wee bit of end product. Obviously we have started defending better which gives you a better chance.
"You are going to lose goals, unfortunately that is part and parcel of football. You have to make life difficult for opponents, you have to be switched on all the time. Sometimes you can see the concentration go but we have been defending a lot better recently but we need to continue that with a lot more clean sheets."
The return of Andy Geggan at right back has solidified the defence and he links up well with the wide players in front of him. "It is good to have him back and it gives us another option with guys like Ryan Williamson getting back to full fitness as well."
The focus which was clearly on the defence earlier in the season has turned to the attack:-
"We get in really good positions and it is about picking the best options. Sometimes that is why the best players in the world are the best, the ones that pick the right pass and make the right decision .
"The good thing is that we are getting there, the goals will come and it is just that wee bit of quality required to pick the right pass."
Kallum Higginbotham has served his one match suspension so the manager has plenty options with his wide players for the trip to Raith:-
"That is what you want to see from your attacking players. You are wanting them to be either creating or scoring goals and playing well. They have been, Joe Cardle came in and did well too. Higgy has been playing really well and Paul McMullan got Man of the Match on Monday.
"You cannot really complain with them on that kind of form. That is maybe why we have picked up in recent weeks as well."
Three players who have been out recently featured in the Development League on Tuesday night and bagged a goal each in an impressive 3-0 win over Celtic at Lennoxtown to compound a very nice type of dilemma for the Pars gaffer.
"I think everybody knows that they have to do well to get in the team. Gavin Reilly is just coming back from injury and David Hopkirk has been out for the majority of the first half of the season through injury and Michael Paton has been in and out of the team recently. They have all got something to play for and prove that they should be involved in the upcoming games."
The only players unavailable for selection are Ben Richards-Everton and Lewis Spence who incurred a slight hamstring problem against Celtic on Tuesday. With no suspensions imminent Allan Johnston added:- "it is great to have so many available."
For the second week running every other fixture in the league has opted to play on the Saturday. Dunfermline moved both their Festive fixtures to the more traditional Boxing Day and 2nd January dates. The manager feels that is what he is used to and continued:-
"I think the fans like it as well. As a fan I would rather go to a game on Boxing Day than Christmas Eve. It was a really good atmosphere on Boxing Day and I am sure that it will be a great atmosphere again at the Raith Rovers game. I am sure that we will take a massive support."
It is friends re-united as Allan Johnston pits his team against his old Kilmarnock sidekick Gary Locke`s Rovers but he insists that is no disadvantage:-
"It is all about players on the park. I was at their game against Hibs and I thought they competed really well. They are hard to beat, hard to break down and they are always a threat at setpieces with the guys like Mvoto who is really good and powerful in the air.
"We know that is going to be a tough test. They showed that in our last game against them, I don`t think there was much between the two teams for the majority of the game. Then obviously they got the first goal which gives them a big lift.
"We are desperate to get one back after the defeat there the last time. The fans are right on the pitch and I imagine our end will be pretty full. It would be great to get the win for the fans."
Allan had no news of any moves coming up as the January transfer window opens:-
"We are hoping to do business. We have a strong squad and we are still trying to look at some options for January as well. Obviously nothing is finalised as yet.
"The January window is difficult because there are not too many players available and they are maybe players who haven`t played a lot. There are lots of rules as well for example we have an over age loan just now so we can`t take another one in that category from Scotland so it would have to be an under age one unless they got their contract cancelled.
"Sometimes you need to wait for other clubs to make deals. It is not as easy as just signing somebody."
Asked if some players might leave AJ replied:-
"We have a big squad and I would imagine that some people would want to play. It is hard to tell right now what will happen, it is not only about me making my mind up, it is a bit of both. We will just see how that works out over the next few weeks.
"We have enough players so we will not be bringing in players just to make the numbers up. They have to be quality players that are going to make a difference but it is not easy getting the right type. Anyone coming in has to have the work ethic and is a good pro as well."
- Preview Raith Rovers
- Lee Ashcroft v Locke`s Rovers
- Dunfermline 1 Falkirk 1
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