Manager previews Arbroath match

Manager James McPake feels that Arbroath will be looking at Saturday’s fixture against Dunfermline as a great opportunity to cut the gap between them and the rest of the clubs in the Championship.  He predicts that his opponents will be trying to turn the home fans on their team:-

“They’ll be saying go out, frustrate, score first, all the stuff I’d be saying if I was in their position. We just need to focus on ourselves.  We know we need to start picking up wins. We need to perform and, again, it goes back to when we were winning games last season. I was always very conscious of the performance, and talking about the performance. 

“We need to get the performance levels up, we need to get the crowd into the game which, to be fair, I thought the lads did that for a spell on Saturday.  It wasn’t good football, but at least they showed the real desire, the real hard work. The first goal against us, the setback hurts, and then you maybe see the group going into its shell.

“Add Chris Kane into this group, add the ones coming back, and the experience of feeling that. Yeah, it was the first heavy defeat for a lot of them the week before, but this was the first time where they’ve had to perform after a heavy defeat, and the younger kids take that setback.

“They’ve responded again in training, so it’s now how, if there’s a setback on Saturday, how do we respond to that setback and going out and forgetting all about what Arbroath will be saying about us like they’ve not won, or they’ve lost two heavily. The first one certainly was.  Saturday, for 66 minutes, we were in the game, and then Queen’s Park deservedly won the game.

“Their staff and their manager will be saying go out, that crowd will turn, but, in our dressing room, we’ll be saying you go out, you show them how much fight’s in this dressing room. You work really hard and see how much the crowd then turns because it turns the opposite way and gets right behind us, and that’s what they’ll do. That’s what this crowd will do.

“They’ve every right to be annoyed, every right to show their emotions. I got asked the question last week when we’ll all remember, for the rest of our careers, the feeling when we were winning games last year, and they were right behind us.  Equally, you need to remember days like that and balance it up, go out and put a performance on, because we all know what one we prefer.  Saturday’s our first chance to get that feel-good factor back at this football club, and that’s what we’re aiming to do.”

Mix of youth and experience 

While James acknowledged that results have not been anywhere near what we are looking for, he has been pleasantly surprised by the way his players have picked themselves up following two painful defeats at home to Morton and Queen’s Park:

“With such a young squad and the likes of people like Ewan Otoo, Ben Summers, Owen Moffat, Josh Edwards, Lewis McCann, Brad Holmes – the make up of the group is what we want to do as a football club. We want the younger ones to mix with experience and then have our own academy which we have seen wee bits and pieces off with Andrew Tod (pictured below) and Taylor Sutherland coming through.

“When you look at that group, it is fine having that plan – the experienced ones are very good and help them but you never plan for not having won in eight games. The experience from that now will help us go forward as a group when we turn it around. The experienced ones have been in these situations before but I have been surprised by just how robust and how well the young ones are taking it.

“When I think back to being a player at times you were walking in, your shoulders were down, your head was down, you were worried what the mood was like. They have lifted it in here themselves. That’s great for us when we get them on the training pitch. Ultimately all that matters is a Saturday so we need to take that into Saturday.”

Delighted to sign Chris Kane

Signed on loan from St Johnstone on Tuesday, Chris Kane brings with him experience of 294 senior appearances and a record of 57 goals.  James was delighted to bring in Chris Kane, a player he has admired for some time. 

“He has trained well this week, probably we have got him at a really good time. He is fit after the injury, he is back and he is frustrated at the lack of game time. That is just what happens at certain clubs so we were interested when he was available and for what he brings to a team in getting you up the pitch. He is a better striker than maybe stats reveal bearing in mind he was a number nine in a team that won a domestic double in this country. That’s unheard of really outwith Celtic and Rangers in my time in watching football – I know Aberdeen did it.

“Chris Kane was pivotal to that team, he was the one who got them up the pitch. They were a very effective team that didn’t create too many chances because they didn’t need to because they were so well drilled. Chris Kane was a massive part of that team and I think any St Johnstone fan will say that.

“I have played against him. I’m surprised that he is still only 29 given I’m nearly 40 but he was a kid. I know that I say this quite a lot but he is a player that I have tried to sign before, here in the summer and at my previous club we tried to take him. When he became available, when we saw him and spoke to him – and thanks to St Johnstone for that because they were excellent – it was one for me who ticks the boxes in what he can bring to this group. He is experienced, hungry and a striker.”

Pictured above: – Craig Wighton and Taylor Sutherland

The arrival of Chris Kane is timely since James revealed that Craig Wighton’s season is over due to a knee injury:-

“We are waiting on the next stage of his recovery whether it is a tidy up or just a strengthening programme. We will take our time, get that right but unfortunately we will miss Craig but we are still trying to add to the squad in terms of experience in certain areas. I think those two could have worked well together, Alex coming back could work well with Chris and he will help all the younger ones. He is a proper striker.”

Chose Pars over Queens Park

James pointed out that Chris has been out on-loan before at Dumbarton and Queen of the South and could only speculate that he just fancied something different. 

“He gave us the time to meet him. I’m sure he will have either met or spoken to Callum as well. I never asked that, I just said what we are trying to do at Dunfermline, how we try and do things. He obviously knows Dave, I think Dave was at the end (of his Saints days) when Chris was coming through to establish himself.  Dave knows him well from the youth teams and being a young kid training with the first team.

“When you know Queen’s Park are interested and you know that he has worked with the manager. He knows Liam Craig very well, that’s a good question. We are delighted that he did choose here.”

Michael O’Halleron and Chris Kane re-united

Michael O’Halloran (pictured above) and Chris Kane were team mates at St Johnstone as recently as season 2021-2022 and combined very well together. James just hopes that they can do it all again in his Dunfermline team:-

“To be fair in a lot of the footage I watched the two of them worked very well together and in a lot of the games it was against my team so I have had the chat with them to say ‘any chance you get, whoever we play can you work like that together again.’

“He is hungry to get his career going again because he feels that he is still Premiership level. I agree with that, he is a Premiership level striker who was winning cups not that long ago, he was just unfortunate to get the injury. He has done ever so well for St Johnstone in big games in Europe, cup finals, semi finals. He is certainly a player that a manager can trust, I know enough about him, seen him enough and this week worked with him to know that he is one who will certainly help our squad.”

The manager has none of his injured players returning and available for this weekend but was hopeful of Matty Todd and Alex Jakubiak being able to make the squad for the Partick Thistle match a week on Friday. 

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