Dunfermline Athletic

Chairman’s lunchtime press call

Thursday, 10th Jan 2019

10/01/19: “Every manager has a shelf life and the end of the day we just feel that we needed fresh energy that maybe can bring some different ideas into the team.

Dunfermline Athletic Chairman Ross McArthur addressed the press on Thursday lunchtime and started by explaining the decision to change the club’s management team.

“I think at the end we feel that we have underperformed this season. It is a very very difficult league. If you are maybe an Ayr United fan or maybe an Alloa fan you might be quite happy but I’m sure that the other fans of teams in this division are thinking that their teams are underachieving as well.

“We have invested in the playing squad this year again, we think we have a good squad of players but maybe not getting the right blend at the moment. We just feel that as though there have been a number of missed opportunities. Games are there, situations arise and we lose, we can’t build up any momentum.

“I have had various discussions with Allan (Johnston) over the last few months in terms of how we improve things and things that we have been looking to do. Some of the things that hopefully I will announce later on today are things that I have actually discussed with Allan previously as well.

“It just got to the point, the game on Saturday at home to Alloa was a prime example probably of our season. The first half we played really good football. Okay, one of the goals was an own goal but the first goal was a really good goal and we had opportunities to probably put the game to bed. Then the game just turned completely on its head. There are things that we thought that could have been handled better in the second half.

“At the end of the day it is hard to say because there is a person involved. Every manager has a shelf life and the end of the day we just feel that we needed fresh energy that maybe can bring some different ideas into the team.

“Believe it or not we were on a reasonable run of form relatively speaking in the league. I just think it was the time that we needed some fresh impetus.

“As a board you are always assessing the staff, not just the football management staff. You are always looking at where we are and who might be available. You don’t make a decision and then think okay what are we doing now?

“We look at things and we have been planning behind the scenes. We have been preparing while obviously Allan has had my full support. I actually liked Allan, I got on well with him. I felt that I was very loyal to him over the period that he was here which he appreciated and he told me that yesterday.

“Saturday kind of epitomised our season and as I say a missed opportunity. Now you can’t just keep saying that you have missed an opportunity because opportunities follow opportunities but there are less as the season go on.

“We are into the second half of the season and there is still a lot to play for. The play offs are still achievable. We had aspirations to not just get to the play offs but that is probably realistically where we are now. Who knows what can happen in the play offs?

“The manner we lost the game (on Saturday) in the way that we did felt like a defeat as a goal in the last minute to equalise probably always does. You hear people say this has happened or that has happened but I still think that we have got a good group of players. We just need to get a different dimension and a bit more out of them.

“We never said that we were out for the title, what we said was that we would like to be in contention at the right end of the table. Now we are middle table just off the play offs, it is a condensed division in which I feel that we have underachieved. There again most clubs in this division could feel that.

“I said at the very start of the season that everybody in this league is going t9 have to be really resilient. How you recover from a couple of bad defeats will define your season.

“Probably Ross County have been the most consistent in terms of not losing that many games or drawn a lot of games. It is a strange season, look at Inverness they have not lost that many games, but they have not won a lot of games. It is a bizarre league. I just feel that we should be doing better than what we are.”

It has been clear for sometime that a lot of fans were unhappy and had turned on both Sandy and Allan, the chairman put that down to a society that wanted everything now.

“It is like going online, buy everything you wanting you get it. People want success and it has to be instant. Our club has come through a lot of turmoil, we went down to rock bottom almost and had to build back up. Yes, we are a well supported club and we can bring in decent revenue for our size but we have not had the gates of the bigger clubs coming through the leagues.

“To bring in extra revenue you have to finish in the top four because there is a big difference between the prize money for the top four. We scraped into the to four last year so that was the first year.

“A club of our size should be in the top four in the Championship. It is not working out so well for them just now but Falkirk for years have finished second two or three years on the bounce to bring in extra revenue. We have not had that so it is difficult.

“It is about managing expectations and I have been getting abuse as well but that is part and parcel of football isn’t it? That is why I felt obliged to come out and say what I had to say because it is not acceptable.

“At the end of the day we don’t make a decision off the back of people getting criticised. It is performances and as Allan said to me yesterday it is a results driven business, the results haven’t been good enough and he accepts that.

“It is funny in a way that the results have gone but we are actually on a reasonable run of form. The problem is that we are playing catch up, we need victories not draws. That has probably been our Achilles heel, we have had too many draws when we should have won games. Sometimes you are actually better winning a couple, losing one than drawing. We have never got that momentum going this season. It has been kind of stop start.”

Referring to the change the chairman continued:-

“With any club or any business if there is a togetherness and people are moving in the same direction then you can be successful. If there is division or criticism that is not conducive to a good working environment trying to find success.

“At any football club if everybody is together, everybody is engaged and moving forward then we can be successful.”

Ross confirmed that he had been discussing performances with Allan Johnston over recent weeks.

“I had a meeting with Allan on Monday and then face to face we had a dignified discussion. I thanked him for what he had done because the club was on its knees. We spent three years in League One and there are more experienced managers than Allan couldn’t get us out of League One.

“He brought the club forward, he has improved year on year but we are looking for further improvement. That is not going to be easy. Whatever you do, if you stay with a management team it could be a risk, if you change a management team it could be a risk. There are no guarantees with all of this.

“We have been reviewing things over a number of weeks and what we are trying to achieve is a different dynamic and we hope that can turn around the season. It doesn’t need to turn around that much - I am not anticipating that we are going to win the league.

“I am no sitting here today to say that the new manager has been told that he has to win the league. That is not the case. We want to be achieving the results that we feel the squad that we have got merits. That is what we are trying to do.”

No specific target will be set but the chairman continued:-

“Sometimes you don’t need to be that specific. Each has their own aspirations, knowing what has to be achieved here. Yes, that is what we are hoping for but there are at least another four or five clubs with the same aspirations. The hope is that we can make the play offs.”

Asked about budget to bring in new players, he closed:-

“We are limited in what we can do at this moment in time. We don’t anticipate a lot of movement, maybe one or two that we can change around and freshen up.”

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