Dunfermline Athletic

Goal is to win on Saturday

Tuesday, 2nd Nov 2021

“There’s got to be a response, there’s got to be a reaction, there’s got to be an improvement.

Greig Shields and Steven Whittaker have been asked to take the team for this weekend’s match at home to Greenock Morton and Greg described the events since Saturday’s defeat at Arbroath, with the departure of manager Peter Grant, as tough but conceded that these things happen in football.

“The way ahead, especially with this group of players, is looking ahead to Saturday. We need to put on a performance - that’s the priority and that’s what we are here to do.

“The relationship myself and Steven have with the players has made the last two days enjoyable. They have been very good and to see the way the players are reacting to what we are telling them to do…it’s back to basics with them and the response that we have had is second to none.”

In November 2019 Steven was in temporary charge alongside Eddie May at Hibernian after the departure of manager Paul Heckingbottom. Greg has 12 years experience as being an assistant manager or coach. As a player, he experienced Stephen Kenny leaving Dunfermline and Jim McIntyre coming in. Back then he felt it was mainly about all coming together and saying: ‘It’s not just their fault, it’s ours as well’. He continued:-

“You don’t want to make drastic changes with personnel because the boys have done reasonably well. Saturday was a hiccup in terms of going from 2-0 up to 4-2 down.

“When we came in on Monday and Tuesday morning, the difference in how they have gone about their day to day work has been very good. That’s all we can ask for.”

There has to be changes stressed Greg who maintained that there has to be a different style because they want to win. That’s the priority of the caretaker management team, their goal is to record the win on Saturday, accept no excuses, take the three points and go to eighth in the table:-

“In terms of things we have asked them to do, some are maybe a little different from prior. That is just the way it is because we need to be different - because we haven’t had results. We are bottom of the league.

“The boys have been told that it is accountability first and foremost. It is not ‘we should have been beating them, we should have done this’, we have to prove that we are up for the battle first and foremost. Then we can influence the game after that.”

Coaches and players had a “right good” in-depth chat on Monday morning when accountability emerged as the buzz word of the week. Everyone took responsibility for the poor results said Greg:-

“As a player, you know when you are not playing well. So, what’s the reason for you not playing well week after week? There’s some type of reason. Players lose confidence from being at the bottom of the league for a long period so it’s about giving them the incentive, some different ideas, maybe a bit more freedom.

“You can treat some players differently from others. I had quite a driven mentality and grew up in that sort of system. When I was younger, I was bawled and yelled at - that’s fine. But some players need a kick and some players need a cuddle.

“We have a good group of players. At the start of the season, we were considered title contenders or play off contenders. You lose that through a lack of consistency - we have been up and down and haven’t won. We need to turn that corner and that’s our plan for this weekend.”

Caretaker managers can often have success that puts them in the frame for the vacant position but Greg dismissed any of that saying:-

“That’s outwith my control. Myself and Steven are here to do a job and that’s the priority. It’s about getting three points. I’m not focusing on anything after this weekend. It’s about this weekend and this week the players are the priority. Not me, not Steven.

“We’ll play a big part in preparing them and they have to respond. That’s the important piece - there’s got to be a response, there’s got to be a reaction, there’s got to be an improvement. If they do that, that’s why we’re here and why we’ve been told to take the team for a game. Whatever happens beyond that is completely outwith our control.”

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