Manager previews Queen’s Park match

Following the uncomfortable defeat to Morton, James McPake is keen to rectify the problems that contributed to last Saturday’s result which he summed up as “simply not good enough”.  He acknowledges that his side will be up against a Queen’s Park team enjoying a boost with the arrival of a new manager.

“I’ve genuinely got a lot of time for Callum Davidson and Liam Craig, and Queen’s Park as a club for what they’ve done recently. I think what they’re doing is great.  When they went in there they weren’t the form team and they beat us down there at Hampden. This week, we’ve done our work on Queen’s Park and how they can hurt us – we know they’ve got good players – and on how we can hurt them.

“The big focus has been on putting Saturday’s performance right and going out and, at the very, very least, giving these fans something to be proud of.  On Saturday, we deserved every bit of stick we got.  We’ve taken that on the chin and we move forward as a group.  The good thing about football, after such a bad afternoon, is that you have a game the following week where you can go and put it right, that’s what we need to do.”

James admitted that the analysis of what went wrong last Saturday took a while because there was lots to consider:-

“It is consistent when you do things well you, it is human nature even when you have a good performance that you still pick out the bad things. It was a lot easier to pick the bad things out of that performance. It has to be done, win lose or draw you analyse the game because we are always trying to improve, to get better.”

Prevention down to actions not words

“You can always see things that you can point at and say we can prevent that happening. It is actions though that do that. I know every goal is preventable and it is not a positive but the goals we did lose were sore goals to lose just in the manner in which we lost them particularly from setplays. 

“You know how much I go on about them but again that’s one of the things that you can really work on. It shouldn’t take what happened on Saturday to work on it. That’s not to say that is the only reason we work on it, we don’t but I think it is really important not to overreact and say because we lost those goals everything is terrible.

“Now we all felt terrible for a few days until we got back on the grass. You see the players getting lively again and the noise comes back. It is a young group and you worry about how they cope with that. They have come in, they have had their say.”

Collective responsibility 

“It is not just the players, it was a collective bad day – the coaching staff as much as the players. Myself and Dave take probably more responsibility for that than the players. We are the ones who set the team up, we are the ones who decide which formation we play, what players play, where they play and how we set up for setplays. We have had a good look at ourselves as well. We will see a reaction on Saturday I’m sure.

“You can’t paper over it. We’re all disappointed but the one thing I will say is the leadership shown since the game has been good.  It wasn’t there on the pitch and it wasn’t there on the sidelines either. It was just a bad day, myself included. I wasn’t great on the day, Dave wasn’t great on the day, the players weren’t great on the day but the one thing I will say is the leadership since then in the group has been good.

“I can’t lie, because over the weekend and on Saturday night in particular, I was pretty worried about that. They are a young group. There is experience in it, and we’ll never use the age of the group as an excuse for results or injuries as an excuse, even though it’s hard. The worry was, how are they going to respond to such a heavy defeat and such a poor performance.

“I’m not going to say I’m surprised with their reaction, because I know the characters in there, but I was apprehensive about coming in and seeing them getting going.  Deep down as well, it hurts the players as much as anyone. I’ve been a player and a fan in football, but it hurts everybody and those players will be desperate to go out there and put on a performance.”

Taking home advantage

“I’m genuinely delighted we’re back at home as well, because we owe the football club a performance.  Not just the fans who turned up, we owe every Dunfermline fan, we owe Dunfermline Athletic Football Club a performance.  That wasn’t us, it’s not acceptable, it’s us who can put it right and that’s what we’re planning to do.  

“The conversations have been good all week, in terms of what we can do, from David [Cook], Thomas [Meggle], the board. How can we help? And it’s been a case of, ‘let’s get back to work, let’s fix this collectively. That’s Thomas, David, the board, players, the coaching staff, everybody together. If we go out and start the game properly then the fans get right behind us as well.  Then we turn this back into a really tough place for the opposition, because it was far too easy for Morton.”

Blast from Benedictus

“Bene has been excellent, different class.  He was actually pretty vocal after the game, which I don’t mind.  Again, I’ve been a captain and an injured captain as well.  It’s not easy, because you’re up there and watching it and he’s hurting. He’s hurting because he wants to be out there helping his team-mates.  He’s loved his time here and he wants to be playing but he was very good after the game.

“Then you have the conversations with the senior ones and say, ‘this is where we need you to show your leadership’.  Then me and Dave have honest conversations with each other and say, ‘we need to show our leadership here as well’.  Then the place gets better. I’m not coming in here and putting a front on, it’s been bubbly.  Maybe that’s not what people want to hear. They maybe want to hear we get the whips out and batter them and run them.”

The place has been bubbly 

“You just get back to work and take your time to get over that but you know you need to move on quickly. You can’t let it linger.  The place has been bubbly. That’s okay but we need to see that personality and that drive to go out there.

“It’s going to be tough for them on Saturday, we know that. They might go out and make a bad pass early on in the game and the fans, rightly so, will have a wee moan.  They’ll see soon enough when we get after the ball, we’ve said we need to do the right things and get after the ball and bang into people, that side of the game that we didn’t do at all on Saturday.

“We didn’t compete with Morton, which was really disappointing, because in the two games before we’ve been the better team by far in those two games. That can happen, I get you can lose games to teams, but it was the level we lost that game compared to when we’ve played them twice this season already.  We handled their physicality in the other two games, and we handled a real threat up at Tannadice the week before.

“So, that was the annoying bit – but also that’s the positive side, that we know that’s there and it’s just getting it out again.  I know as soon as we do that this crowd will get back behind us. That’s football. We all need to show our leadership qualities now.  Throughout the week the senior players have done that, and the young kids have driven training, just with their enthusiasm and their love for training.

“It’s up to the eleven picked to start the game and the subs who come on, and the coaching staff, to put this right on Saturday.  We might not start the game well but if we get ourselves into the game and give the crowd something then this place will soon turn back into our favour.”

Player availability

“I think we have the same amount of players available but not the same players! Craig Wighton (pictured above) will see another specialist – we need to get to the bottom of it you can see that he is not himself, so Craig will be out. One is back and two are out.

“The injuries have been tough, it was great today to see Alex Jakubiak, Matty Todd, Kane Ritchie-Hosler, Rhys Breen and Kyle Benedictus all down at training. They got put off the good pitch because we needed it to train on but it was great to see them there. Matty Todd was kicking the ball and actually doing a drill with me and Lewis McCann. 

“Kane is now kicking the ball, he just needs to take the set time for that to heal.  Jak is looking good and with Bene we need to speak to Professor Haddad again in London. He has to have a scan just to make sure and then he could really accelerate.

“It was a boost for everybody seeing them down there. It was quite surprising to me this morning when I got told just how many of them would be down there and working.

“I’m not using it as an excuse but everybody keeps talking about the injuries, and I do get that.  The problem the injuries are causing is it’s tough to get your message across when you’re training with so many out.  We’re bring in new players and trying to get working with them but that’s our job to get that right, and that’s why we spend so long trying to do it.  We’ll get it right.”

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