DM – “We have got three games to go, we don’t want to just let it slide now and see the season out.
Speaking this lunchtime, Dunfermline’s assistant manager Dave Mackay stressed that after time off to celebrate winning the League One title, it had been back to business:-
“I think we all enjoyed it for a couple of days but we know that we have a tough game at the weekend so the season is not finished yet. It was important that we get back to work. Let them enjoy themselves say for two or three days and then get back in to prepare for Airdrie.
“We have got three games to go, we don’t want to just let it slide now and see the season out. We have put too much into it to let it fritter away. We have nine points to play for and we want to try and win all of them.”
The three matches remaining are away to play off contenders Airdrieonians and Alloa Athletic, and at home to Clyde who are trying to finish ninth to avoid automatic relegation. Dave pointed out that it had not been difficult at all to retain the focus:-
“They are a great bunch of boys to work with so they have come in and worked as hard as they have done all season this week. We came back in at the start of the week, we took it a wee bit easier obviously since they had been out celebrating. The last couple of days we have been back to normal training and getting them ready and prepared for tomorrow because it will be a real tough game.”
It would seem that extending club records are being used as part of the motivation. Dunfermline have gone 21 league games undefeated and are five points off their all time points record of 79 set that last time they won League One. Dave agreed:-
“Absolutely, I think the players recognise that as well. When you are on such a long unbeaten run then you want to maintain that. We have got other things that we want to do and records to break so we are fully focussed now on the last three games, trying to win all three of them and maintain the run that we have been on which has been incredible.”
The next match could not have posed any more difficult opponents as Saturday’s fixture throws up a return to Airdrieonians. They are the form team in League One and last time there Dunfermline were three goals down before they scored one. Can the Fifers start like they did against Queen of the South last weekend?
“Let’s hope so, last time when we were down at Airdrie it was a mixture of us being really poor in possession, we were inviting them on to us and giving them chances but fair play to Airdrie as well, they can do that to teams.
“The number of goals they have scored recently, they’ve scored 24 in their last six games which is some going. So we know the strengths they’ve got, we know where they can hurt us. We also know that we can hurt them as well, on the flip side. We’ll be a lot better than we were that first half down there.
“It should be a good game because the way Airdrie play, they play a great brand of football that’s open and expansive, but by doing that they leave opportunities at the other end which we hope to exploit.”
Acknowledging that Airdrieonians will be desperate to win for their own reasons and not just to stop Dunfermline’s phenomenal run, Dave warned:-
“That’ll be at the back of their mind, but the fact that they’re five points behind Falkirk. It’s a massive game for them, if they win this game it gives them an opportunity to potentially finish in second.
“We’ve done it all along, just take one game at a time. Whether the league is done or not, our full focus is on Airdrie because we know that if we’re not at it, they’re definitely a team that can really hurt us, as they’ve shown throughout the season.”
Ahead of the trip to North Lanarkshire Dave said that there were no new injury concerns meaning the only player unavailable will be Rhys Breen who has been ruled out for the season the season. Asked about the potential for some fringe players to get game time he was guarded:-
“There’ll be some changes, there’s no doubt. Over the next three games, there will be some changes, but they won’t be wholesale changes because we’ve got so much to play for. No matter who we pick I believe in the squad that we’ve got. It doesn’t weaken the team either, we’ve done that throughout the season, no matter what team has started.
“We’ve made changes, numerous changes throughout the game and they’ve always come on and improved the team. I think we’re in a really strong position now when we do make changes to the team, it doesn’t weaken us at all. It can be for tactical reasons, just mixing it up, changing personnel, or rotation. We’ve got a real strong squad here and there will be changes over the three games, but it’ll not be six, seven at a time, that’s for sure.”
With one season coming to a successful close has there been any plans made for next season?
“There have been discussions that have been ongoing for a while. You have to prepare for whatever league you are in – preparing for going up to the Championship because we were in a good position for a while, and also preparing if we were going to be in League One.
“It is important that we try and tie down the players at our club who have been excellent for us this season, which we are doing bit by bit. So we are putting things in place. There will be new signings that will come in but nothing to report so far.
“Pre-season will start pretty early, probably the middle of June again. We have the St Pauli friendly arranged for 23rd June, earlier than we would normally play pre-season games so we will need to be in and make sure that we are ready for that. We will be back in but because we have won the league we will have a good break, if you are in the play-offs then you might only get three weeks off. It is good that we are in a position now where we can fully rest and get the players prepared for next season in pre-season in plenty time.”