An update from Jim JefferiesTuesday, 5th Jun 2012
06/06/12: An open letter to Pars Fans from the Manager
JJ wears his heart on his sleeve??in an open letter to Pars fans on his plans for next season
"I am delighted to have this opportunity finally to properly communicate with the Pars supporters, rather than the few snippets you might have picked up on in a range of other interviews. As you can imagine in my early days at the Club, I had little or no option but to hit the ground running, put all of my energy into the last 8 games, prioritise what precious time I had, to try to keep the Club in the SPL. At the same time I had to assess a number of individual's ability, temperament and character to determine if they could fit in with the legacy I would like to build here, immaterial of the Division we were to eventually compete in. You will appreciate that the last couple of weeks have also been difficult, dealing with the staff no longer part of my plans, and I have already expressed publicly my gratitude to them.
Life is no less hectic now really, working on new budgets and recruiting personnel, but it is important that I took the time to outline for the fans of the Club what I am looking to achieve next year and effectively share my vision and methods with you. It has been well documented that I had been looking for one last challenge, and this Club was exactly the type of opportunity I was looking for. It is a traditional Football Club, with a real sense of community and a proud history, backed by good people and supporters. However, you don't normally get a manager's job in football unless the football team is not performing, so that is where we are, so I am under no illusions that I have a big job on my hands. However, DAFC can be a force to be reckoned with, there is no doubt about that, and I would obtain real satisfaction personally if I was able to restore some pride by building an attractive football team to watch at East End Park. On a professional level, I have never felt more enthused, and I am entirely focussed on the challenge that awaits us all next season. I am making it clear to potential signings that I need people alongside me in the home dressing room, who share the same passion and commitment to the cause.
Although I never played for the Club, I have always shared an affinity for it, and I am being sincere when I say that. Over many years I have received a friendly welcome whenever I visited East End Park - unlike some other grounds! In addition, because of my long association and friendship with Jim Leishman, Bert Paton and Dick Campbell, I always received plenty reminders of what this Club means to the people of West Fife! Bert had actually been a coach at Tynecastle, assisting Willie Ormond when I first broke into the first team, so we go way back!
There is no certainty in football, far from it, but that is what makes it such an exciting spectacle. Therefore, it is important that we manage fans expectations, and I am too long in the tooth to be making rash promises about finishing here or there in the league next season. All I can promise though is that every one of my staff will be giving their all, on and off the pitch, and whatever happens come May 2013, it will not be for the want of trying. We are looking to build a team next year which will have an experienced spine, but with a focus on young talent already at East End Park, coupled to the additions I am looking to make. It is well documented that I have a tight budget, but I have a number of targets in mind who I think have real potential to excite the Pars fans. I know how difficult it was for supporters at East End Park last season, and without question we need to put on performances for our home fans next year, to give you something to shout about and as a manager over the years I have always liked to play with two wide players. Nonetheless, fielding young players leads to inconsistencies, so I would ask supporters to be patient and "buy-in" to the bigger picture we are trying to create at the Club. So far, the discussions I have had with Pars fans really heartens me that the fans do understand this, as long as they can see players caring about what they do, trying their best and learning from their mistakes. We hope to spot talented players, develop and nurture them and if they move on to a bigger Club, it is hopefully to everyone's benefit. Football is extremely challenging at present, but there are opportunities out there, if you can identify them, so I hope to use the contacts I have built up over the years to pull in a few favours here and there. I may use the loan market to that effect, but I would prefer to have our own players in the main.
Naturally, in a number of away games we may need to change the system to be more combative, so I am looking to identify good technical players who are also flexible with good awareness and decision making. At the same time, it is important that we have players who can work hard and compete, with good energy to get around the pitch.
Football is a results business, and by getting results on the pitch we hope we can galvanise the fans off it, and I would urge all Pars fans to really get behind the team next year as this will inspire the young players in particular to take players on, rather than making an easy pass, for example. A positive, intimidating East End Park will be a daunting place for many of our opponents.
When the squad assembles for pre-season training in early July, it is customary for me to let them know my expectations for the coming season in terms of how they prepare, train and the systems I intend to use. Another key aspect is discipline and what is expected of them, on and off the pitch. It has always been my philosophy that the players must be visible and take more responsibility by getting involved with the fans during match days and during the week, when required. No one likes it if you get beat, far less my players I hope, and if you have to meet up with the fans following a defeat, that's life, it is what builds strong characters.
I would like to think most players who have worked under me over the years have enjoyed their time, as I can laugh and joke more than most, but they need to learn when the time comes for it to stop and for the hard work to start. The training sessions will continue to be fun and varied but intense at the same time. I have to say that working with a small, close knit squad has really invigorated me, and given me a real "buzz" again, something which my good friend Billy Brown recently commented on to me. Therefore, I would hope this enthusiasm rubs off on the players and they have a real determination to do well next season in a notorious tough league.
I have always tried to be honest and very candid in my assessments of games, as I believe supporters deserve straight talking and I don't see any reason to change that now. Since taking over I have also been quite open about the fact that I do not see myself working as a football manager that much longer, as I would like to have the time to enjoy my retirement. However, a number of people have asked about my intentions beyond next season when my existing contract ends. I have learned that you can never look too far ahead in football, and at this moment in time my sole focus is building for next season. That said if I am continuing to enjoy it, the team are playing good football and the fans are also enjoying it, then these factors will have a major bearing on any decision I make.
Finally, as soon as there is news we can share with you on new signings we will let you know over the course of the next few weeks, but in the meantime have a good summer, thanks for your backing so far and we all look forward to your continuing support home and away next season".
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