Dunfermline Athletic

Dec more than nuisance value

Friday, 4th Dec 2020

Declan McManus happy to be unpopular with opponents and hated by opposition fans.

According to BBC Scotland’s A View from the Terrace, Declan McManus is a ‘nuisance’. Being unpopular with opponents Declan said, was all in the job:-

“That is a big part of my game that I try to apply, every defender that I come up against doesn’t enjoy the game, regardless of aerial battles or battles on the ground I will always make sure that I win my fair share. Nine times out of ten if I do that I will create chances because I am that high up the park. I don’t mind having a fight and players not really liking me, maybe giving me a wee kick now and again, it is all part and parcel of it.

“I don’t mind doing the dirty bit for the team and being that target man that the team needs to get us up the park if we are under pressure or as I did on Saturday when I set up Dowser for his goal.

“I still get enjoyment from that, of course I want to score goals but it just so happens that three or four times I have come off the park, we have got a penalty and Kevin has scored it. Honestly it doesn’t bother me as much as I want to score goals, that is the only thing that I wasn’t happy with when I was last here.”

Declan’s previous season at Dunfermline in 2017-2018 saw him scored twelve goals by mid January but did not add to that until final match of the season, the play off lost 2-1 at Tannadice in May. He continued:-

“In the second half of that season I was not consistent enough with goals. Back then I got a lot of assists for Nicky Clark and others that ended up being important goals in games. As long as we are winning it doesn’t bother me. I will always give 100% and if I can add the goals to that then that is all the better.”

In the summer of 2017, Declan joined from Raith Rovers where he had been on a season long loan from Fleetwood Town. He played for the Rovers against Dunfermline in three of that season’s Championship matches so he knows what this particular derby means in both Fife towns. He claimed that there is definitely no need for much hyping up.

“I have played for Raith in this Fife Derby and have played either side with the derbies with Falkirk. This is one of those games where it is instilled in you what is at stake. There is added spice to the game but we are all looking forward to it.”

In the first league derby between the clubs since April 2017, it will be third placed Raith versus top of the league Pars. The newly promoted club have had a good start to their season and this match will be hotly contested regardless of the derby ingredient. Declan predicts that Raith will be one of the ones who will be up and around where Dunfermline will hope to be as well.

“We want to win every game. It is going to be a tough place to go and the way the fixtures fall we will go there twice. If we can go there and beat them at the first attempt then it will be massive for us. Obviously it would keep us top of the league as well which is important.

“This early in a short season it becomes a big game, you want to go out and do what we did against Hearts and put a marker down.

“They come here on 2nd January so that is two important games coming thick and fast. If we win both of them then it would be six points that they cannot claw back on us. Every game is going to massive, we are under no illusions of that but it’s a derby and you want to win them regardless of league positions.

“We are focused on ourselves and what is at stake for us is win the game and staying top of the league. They will be thinking if they beat us they go ahead of us, that is their incentive but we are not worried about that, we will focus on ourselves and what is at stake for us if we go and win the game. We want to win as many games as possible and be as high up that league as possible.”

In what is the best ever start to a Pars season, in normal times the road to Kirkcaldy would have had thousands streaming east for this derby but alas Covid-19 has prevented the Dunfermline fans from sharing the joy of the successes so far. Declan agreed:-

“Having started so well, it is a pity for Dunfermline fans that they cannot be there. It would be that wee bit more special for us as players as well if the fans could be there to see us doing as well. We know that they are watching and individually and collectively as a team we are focused.

“We know in house that we have the capabilities of going on to do something special. We want to do that even if the fans don’t make it to the games. We know how much it will mean to them.”

Of course there will also be the absence of home fans at Stark’s Park to give Declan stick and he revealed that sometimes that has a positive effect and raises his game.

“Last season I got a lot of stick there when I was playing for Falkirk. With my ties of being at Dunfermline they don’t very much like me. I have had their fans wait on me coming out after games and it doesn’t bother me one bit. Thankfully last year I scored a couple of goals against them to add to the hatred but I will looking to do the exact same on Saturday - score goals and win my team the game.”

Not having supporters at the Betfred Cup derby v Falkirk was the first taste of a big match played without them present, Declan described how that felt:-

“It is strange to not have the noise behind you. At the same time, as soon as that first kick of the ball you are not thinking about that. You are not focusing on there being no fans, you are focused on going out and winning the game.

“As I said there is that bit of added spice to derbies that maybe lifts it that percent. I think Saturday it will be the exact same. Us being top, regardless who it is we are playing when you are top of the league and everybody wants to beat you. We know that we are going to have that target on our backs as long as we are doing so well. It is how we deal with that.”

As target man Declan has had to deal with crunching defenders and bruising challenges. He is happy to take it all but explained that the role of strikers is changing:-

“Especially if you are up there yourself. Sometimes you can go a full game without even getting a shot because you are the link man. That happened against Hearts and Arbroath. I came off the park and I knew that I had played well, helped the team and influenced the game but I never had a shot.

“People who maybe don’t know football would maybe think ‘oh, he has maybe not done anything’ but I know and the players all know that I am doing a job for the team. There were spells in the Hearts game when we were under a bit of pressure, I was getting us up the park, winning fouls or bringing other players into play. I know I am doing my job and it is a bit unselfish at times but I am happy to do it.”

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