Dunfermline Athletic

Playing under the microscope

Friday, 10th Sep 2021

“I can assure everyone that myself and the staff and the players are working really, really hard to make sure we start putting things right - the performances and the results.

Dunfermline’s Bulgarian striker Nikolay Todorov admits to feeling the scrutiny of the fans but he is determined that they will soon be talking about his successes. After scoring four goals in the Pars first five matches under Peter Grant, the 25 year old has not scored since the final day of July at Cappielow. He is well aware how unhappy the East End Park faithful were with the team’s hefty home defeats to Partick Thistle and Arbroath:-

“The crowd wasn’t happy with our performance and we, as the players, acknowledged that, and I know the staff did as well. It’s really hard, really hard, when you’re down. People are talking about how you’re performing, you’re getting looked at through a microscope - every single mistake you make.

“It’s not nice times at the moment but you just need to keep going and making sure you’re doing the right things and getting into the right positions.

“It is about not overthinking it, it’s just about believing it’s going to happen for you. I’m a big believer that everything happens for a reason but the only people that can get us out of this is ourselves.

“We’re going to try to make sure we put things right from now on. We’re not going to win every single game but we need to try and we need to show better performances and better character.

“Sometimes you just need to roll up your sleeves, dig deep and get that ugly win. Then, hopefully from there we can go on a really good run of wins and climb up the table and be where we should be.

“You just need a bit of luck. A fortunate goal will go in and everything will change but everyone is working really hard. Everyone knows we are not supposed to be where we are.

“We are hoping we can put things right and get the three points. It doesn’t matter how we get them, everyone is hoping we can break our bad luck, if you can call it that, get the three points and go from there.”

Luck deserted the strike force in the last game. Nikolay had a goal chalked off, as did Kevin O’Hara and Kai Kennedy was kept out by the goalpost. Having reviewed the decision to disallow his ‘goal’ Nikolay said:-

“I don’t want to judge the referee but I don’t ever think for a second it’s a free kick. The goalkeeper was behind and I don’t know if he thought I was hitting him with my body or something. But he came out and hit me, rather than the other way around, so I don’t think it should have been a free kick. I scored it and the next thing I saw he had given a free kick.”

The players were creating chances but things were going against them. Kai Kennedy hit the post midway through the first half and had Nikolay’s 42nd minute ‘goal’ been awarded and Kevin’s ‘goal’ five minutes earlier not been ruled off for offside, it would have been 2-1 and a completely different game. Instead Arbroath went up the park and made it 2-0 at half time.

“Nothing seems to be going our way. I don’t want to make excuses, I look at myself first and I blame myself if we have not scored. I have that responsibility and I have come to Dunfermline to score goals and to lead the team from the front.

“Sometimes it doesn’t go your way, but I can assure you that I am doing everything possible and working as hard as I can to get back to winning ways. I am sure, and I can see, that everyone in the team is doing exactly the same. When things don’t go your way, you need to make sure you dig deep and learn from your mistakes and we need to learn quickly so that we can bounce back and climb up the table. We don’t want to be in the position we are in at the moment.”

The sticky patch for the club has come on the back of a really good start to the season in the Premier Sports Cup games and it is a mystery why things have gone the way they have. Nikolay is adamant that that Ayr United match on Saturday is the beginning of improved times:-

“Everyone in the club knows the way we’ve started the league is not good enough. But I can assure everyone that myself and the staff and the players are working really, really hard to make sure we start putting things right - the performances and the results. We are not a club that should be at the bottom of the league. Everyone has been back training, working hard and looking forward to this game.”

The departure of manager David Hopkin from Ayr United means that the Pars front man will not be up against a former manager:

“I’ve got a great respect for David Hopkin and I’m sad to see him go. I worked with him before at Livingston and I know his style of play and how good a coach he is. We got two promotions and he is a winner. I’m sure he will have passed that on to his team.

“It’s going to be a really tough game. There is no doubt about that, it’s a really tough place to go and earn some points. We have been training well and hard all week and last week, so we’re going to be rolling up our sleeves for every game. We just pray and hope that things go our way.”

Warning that it is not going to be easy, Nikolay predicted a really tough game:-

“They might not have won a league game but they’re the kind of team who are very difficult to play against. They are going to be physical, a big team, and it’s going to be interesting. We are going there for the win and hopefully we come out with the three points.
Ayr are in the same situation and maybe in a couple of months they will be in a different place. I think we will be as well.”

When Nikolay joined Dunfermline in June this year he was full of ambition hoping that an impressive time with the East End Park club could attract international interest in him. Now he is only interested in getting the Pars back on track:-

“I didn’t imagine we would start the league season like this, I don’t think anyone would have imagined that - from the fans to the players to the coaching staff. That’s why it’s the best sport in the world, because you can’t predict what is going to happen.

“My dream is to play for my country and I’ve not given up on that just because we’ve lost games with Dunfermline. That’s when character is built, when times are tough and you have to show what you’re really made of.

“I said when I joined Dunfermline that playing for Bulgaria was my dream but I’m fully focused just now on playing for Dunfermline. You need to be fully focused on your club and do your job there first - and then the national team is going to come as a bonus and a reward for what you’re doing at your club. That’s my dream. I worked towards it every single day and in every single game.”

Bulgaria have had pretty decent results - they drew against Italy, beat Lithuania 1-0 and won in a friendly against Georgia 4-1. At the minute, it’s going well for them. The other players are there for a reason. But I want to show why I should be there.

“It’s hard when I’m far away from the country. With technology you can watch all games online but I don’t know know if they’re watching or not.

“I’m not really focused on that, I’m really trying to do my job for Dunfermline and if a call-up comes I’ll be really happy. At the moment, my main target is to be top of the table with Dunfermline.”

With only three league games played there is plenty of time to correct their results but they need to show a big reaction from the last performances and results. Nikolay has vowed to do everything in his power to achieve this.

“We are a team and the boys are all working really hard because no-one wants to be in the situation we’re in. Hopefully we can put in a good performance against Ayr and most importantly get the three points and start going up the way.”

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