Managers UpdateTuesday, 22nd May 2012
22/05/12: - Jim Jefferies has been busy telling players who can stay and who goes.
Jim Jefferies spoke to the players who were out of contract on Tuesday. All came in to see him with the exception of Andy Dowie and Mark Kerr who were on holiday.
"It has been a busy day. My plan today was to see every single player who was out of contract and leave the ones in contract until next Tuesday. I want to have a word with them as well just to tell them what is happening. It was only fair to deal with the out of contract players first to let them know their futures as quickly as possible."
The outcome was that six out of contract players were told that they were not going to be offered a new contract. These were Chris Smith, Alex Keddie, Austin McCann, David Graham, Steven McDougall and Martin Hardie. The gaffer said that he had little option since he required to create some space to allow new signings to be brought in:-
"The outcome of the board meeting was that the pathway was to build a side while reducing the wage bill in line with finances and squad numbers. It left very little gaps to bring in new players and it is not a nice thing because all these boys have worked their socks off for me since I have come in. Mistakes have been made, deficiencies have been shown up but it wasn't through the lack of effort. They have been a joy to work with.
"I just had to be honest with them and tell them what way the Club had to go. The Club is aware that when you go down and have to rely on younger players coming in, inconsistencies creep in and they can have highs and lows. Experienced players know the score but that was the decision that was taken. I have to to do the best I can with some promising youngsters.
"Willis, Thomson and Cardle are young and behind them we have Shaun Byrne and Kerr Young. The emphasis on the players I bring in must be from the younger element and the reason for that is because of the wage structure we can offer them. It is not easy to get better players than the ones you are giving away for less money."
The Manager will now continue working away and use his contacts to bring in younger players but would not dismiss the need to bring in a couple of experienced players as well.
"I am sure that the supporters would buy into a predominantly younger players with a blend of experienced ones trying to put on a good show. Okay if we came up short then we would have the foundations there to go again. The way to get up at the first attempt is to have the money to go and strengthen your squad or bring in players at decent wages but that we will not be able to do."
There is no guarantee that formula would bring promotion and the gaffer is very aware that the last time Dunfermline were relegated they deployed that tactic but ended fifth in the league.
"If we stick to the players we have and didn't come up, it would be a massive problem the following year. You would have to revamp the whole squad."
The three players who have been plagued by injury this season - Kevin Ruitkiewicz (32), Steven Bell (27) and Nick Phinn (23) - have not been offered new contracts since the Club is not in a position to carry players. They will be welcome back after the summer to prove that they could be in a position to play on a basis heavily based on appearances.
"If they did want to go down that route I could maybe do something like that, but that will depend on how much I have got left in the budget. When he was fit I believe Kevin Rutkiewicz did a decent job for them and with Alex Keddie moving on a wee bit of experience might be needed. I have learned over the years that you have to get the spine of your team right. If Paul Gallacher can come back and you get a couple of solid centre backs and midfielders, a main striker then we could fill in round about with youths."
Having been loaned out to Queen of the South in the latter half of the season, central defender John Potter will not be offered a new contract but the Manager will be discussing with him the possibility of getting involved on the coaching side with the Under 20s where he would also be allowed to play.
The other loaned out player was Pat Clarke (27) who spent the latter part of the season at Raith Rovers and is free to leave. The striker is an unknown quantity to the boss but if he is still unattached come pre season Jefferies would be happy for Pat to return to show him what he can do.
So far two offers have been made to out of contract players - Gary Mason (33) and Liam Buchanan (27). Both have received an offer and have gone away to think it over. Mason is recognised by the Manager as a "good pro with good habits" whose experience would be of value. Buchanan has been offered a reduced deal but it is hoped that he would accept and give competition for places upfront. Both are free to move should they wish under freedom of contract.
Bernardo Fernandez has returned to Spain having fulfilled the Pars short term requirement. The Manager explained that Paul Gallacher's recovery or otherwise would be key to the approach to bringing in another keeper:-
"If he is fit to start the season that will determine. If he cannot start then I would make a move to bring in an on loan keeper and then Paul, once he gets fit, he would have to put him under pressure and fight for his place. But if Paul is fit to start then there would be no point in bringing in someone on loan because their club would want him to play. I would then go and get a goalkeeper who would be adequate to challenge Paul. There is a lot of work to be done!"
Jim Jefferies has had a chat with his Assistant Gerry McCabe and he has been offered a reduced offer that he is now thinking over. Ross Hughes, Sports Scientist has been released but part time goalkeeping coach, Brian Potter has been made a lesser offer.
"Gerry like myself has had to take a drop and it is only right when the income is not the same that budgets have to be cut. I accepted that before I came in. I am very fortunate at my stage, it is not about the money, it is about the challenge. Gerry has still to accept it but the signs are that he will. If he does, we can move on together and try and blend the mixture of experience and youth."
Pre Season training will start on Monday 2nd July. Currently there are offers out to play a couple of SPL clubs at East End Park. Bristol City will be the visitors on Wednesday 1st August and the Manager is hoping to agree a fixture with Gordon Durie's East Fife at Bayview.