Going for goal in GreenockFriday, 8th Sep 2017
"We are in the top spot now and we want to keep that for the rest of the season.
Declan McManus is looking forward to returning to Cappielow, a ground he knows well after spending three periods there on loan from Aberdeen. He scored 22 goals in 49 appearances for the `Ton and won the League One player of the year in 2014-2015. Talking exclusively to this website he said:-
"It is always good to go back. I was back a few times last year, I got a bit of stick but that is just part of it.
"It seemed strange the first time last season but this time it is just another game. I am looking forward to meeting a few good mates there and I am looking forward to the stick again.
"I played under Jim Duffy, he always has his teams set up well. They are hard to beat, always good on the counterattack and they have some very good players going forward as well."
Declan warned of former Pars player, Ross Forbes with his dangerous deliveries but felt that the way that Dunfermline are playing just now should mean that they just need to go out and replicate that.
"Hopefully that will be enough to take three points. It is a very hard place to go and they went a year unbeaten there."
It was Dunfermline who ended Morton`s fantastic run in March this year and Declan has plans to trouble their defenders again this time. He knows the defenders that he is up against extremely well:-
"I am still in contact with Tam (O`Ware), Ricki (Lamie) and Lee (Kilday) nearly every day. It will be good to play against them again and hopefully I will get a goal just to rub it in."
The 23 year old striker who has been capped at Under 18, 19 and 20 level feels that he has started the season well even though he missed a two league games through suspension but he feels that he is back to his best again.
"I am starting to enjoy playing again. It is a big part of why I came to Dunfermline. I knew that I was going to be playing with good players and that always helps.
"The boys have set me up on a few occasions to grab a few goals as well. Enjoying my football is the most important thing for me and if I am confident like I am just now, I know that I will always be a help to the team."
Declan has found the net four times this season from nine appearances but with the Championship leaders having scored 31 goals already this season he is acutely aware of the competition for striking roles:-
"We have a lot of good attacking options upfront. Whoever plays, the gaffer knows that he will get what he is looking for. That is a huge part of a team that wants to go and challenge for the league.
"I know that sometimes I will need to sit out, other boys have sat out for me. It is part and parcel, you just need to make sure that once you get the chance to play that you are doing everything you can for the team.
"I have been trying to do that when I have played and when other boys have played, they have done brilliantly as well. I am quite sure that the gaffer has hard selection decisions to make but that is a good thing for the team."
Having a quantity of good strikers means that whoever is playing they know that they need to play well. Declan continued:-
"They need to not just grab goals but work hard for the team and do well for the team because there is always a very good replacement for yourself.
"I know if I am not on it there are boys on the bench who can come on and do well. It is a good thing and does spur you on, if you want to keep your place in the team you need to be playing well."
Declan was rested for the match at Buckie last weekend and Callum Smith was absent on international duty with the Scotland Under 19s that gave starting opportunities for others:-
"It was important to give Nicky (Clark) and Andy (Ryan) a long spell. I think Andy got 80 minutes and Nicky got 90. It is important I`m sure in the gaffer`s opinion, that he gives everybody a shot.
"Obviously everybody wants to play in the league games - they are the big games but whoever he picks I`m pretty sure that he has a good player going in and a player who can score and do well for the team. That`s a good thing if you want to compete at the top.
This all sounds a different story from Declan`s season at Raith Rovers last term. He reached Easter with a tally of just five and redeemed his season by hitting four in the last five matches. Declan explained the difference:-
"Last year up until January I was the only striker that they had that was fairly fit. It was tough because when we weren`t winning, we weren`t scoring goals and it was mainly blamed on me. That was fair enough because I wasn`t playing well enough either.
"This year we have plenty of good options and if I am not on it there will be somebody else to come in and do it for the team. A season is a long time and there will be games when I will miss chances and when I am not quite at my best. It is good that we have boys on the bench or me coming off the bench for other boys when they are not doing well. It is good that we have that option. If we are going to challenge we need plenty of goals and I think we have got that."
Some strikers don`t like to set targets but Declan knows just what he is looking for:-
"For a striker it is always the magic twenty but I set myself ten and then I will go fifteen and then twenty.
"We are in the top spot now and we want to keep that for the rest of the season. Not just for a week or a month.
"Morton away is probably going to be one of our hardest games. If we can go there and play the way that we have been playing and come back with three points that is a huge result."