Manager Meets the FansThursday, 24th Jan 2008
Manager Jim McIntyre and his management team of Gerry McCabe and Stephen Wright who were accompanied by players Greg Shields and Mark Burchill
The Pars Supporters Trust hosted a Meet the Manager night in the Kingdom Suite at East End Park on Thursday evening. Around 80 fans turned out to put their questions to Manager Jim McIntyre and his management team of Gerry McCabe and Stephen Wright who were accompanied by players Greg Shields and Mark Burchill.
Jim McIntyre started off by stating how privileged to be apponited the Manager of Dunfermline Athletic. He described the players attitude and application in training and games as first class.
One of the first questions raised concerned the suggestion that some players were not trying for the previous manager Stephen Kenny. Jim McIntyre responded:-
"I know for a fact that no player goes out not to give their all.Players can look half the player when their confidence has gone and they go into their shell. Maybe they are not looking for the ball as much as they would do when they are free flowing and full of confidence and the team is winning every week.
"Some other players have strength of character and will still the demand the ball and they might keep making more and more mistakes but they go looking for the ball.As far as they weren't trying for Mr Kenny, I am not going to discuss what went on under Stephen Kenny because I just feel that is disrespectful."
Mark Burchill added:-
"No one was more disappointed than the players that Stephen Kenny wasn't a success here because if he was a success we would be top of the league and pushing towards where everyone of us in this room thinks we should be and that's the top of this league. That is where we all want to be, no-one wanted to get relegated.
"There seems to be this kind of rumour mill that's been going about that certain players in the squad haven't been trying and I can only say for myself and my team-mates for everyone of us this is our careers and their livelihood. There is no way you can go on to a pitch and never try.You are judged on your last game, you can't just stop trying in football, it is a short career as it is. You need to try and do the best you can at it.
"To say that people are going on the pitch and blatantly not performing because they disagreed with the Manager or they didn't get on with him is just ridiculous.It just wasn't happening for whatever reason, I can't put my finger on it. I can't sit here and say the reason we never won games under Stephen Kenny was this or that, it just wasn't happening.
"The thing is Stephen Kenny was the Manager and at any club when the team doesn't perform it always comes back to the Manager and its as simple as that.Unfortunately for Stephen it didn't work."
Greg Shields said:-
"At the end of last season I thought we were doing really well.We put some bums on seats watching good players like Adam Hamill and Jim O'Brien. We played Motherwell at the tail end of last season and won 4-1. I think there were about 7000 at that game everyone enjoyed it. Those two players left and we did replace them with other players, but different sort of players.
"We got off to a bad start against Hamilton and took four games to win against Stirling .You were up against it by having such a bad start and when people start to ask questions players go into their shell.It becomes more and more difficult.
"I think that since Jim has come in and Gerry and Stephen, I can see a massive difference when I come into training. You come to training with a smile on your face now.We are going to the job day in day out and we see it differently.
"You are unhappy going into work, it spreads about everybody, first in patches then sort of full circle. It didn't seem a happy place to be.I know you think it was the players fault and not the Manager's fault but at the end of the day the Board have taken the decision to sack the Manager. I think instantly the performances did get better. We were second bottom and went to fourth in the league, now we are mid table. That is a big improvement.
"We have gone seven games without losing, the last two games have been disappointing but things have got better, believe me. I have been watching training when I have been injured and there is a massive improvement."
Stephen Wright added a perspective from someone who had been on the outside looking in:-
"You see Dunfermline getting relegated and right from the start it is probably the biggest scalp for all the teams in the First Division to beat Dunfermline .So it is a Cup Final for all the teams playing against them.
"If you lose the first game, the second game you lose, the biggest thing for players is confidence - and that is when you see the confidence draining away.It is harder to keep getting back up again. You are still playing against teams who are desperate to beat you because you have been in the Cup Final last year.
"That is a big thing to do with the confidence but hopefully we can start building, win a few games and keep building on what Jim has done since he came in."
The long ball tactic was questioned and Jim McIntyre replied:-
"I can assure you that we don't just punt the ball up.At the end of the day you ask the players to get the ball down and play but this is the First Division and to my mind teams in this division you need to play the game in their half.
"When you start the game off we are saying to the boys to play the game in their half, once the first five or ten minutes settles down then you get in their half to play the passes. Nobody here is told just bang the ball long to Jim Hamilton.
"Sometimes a player picks that option to do that but that all comes back to the confidence side of things. We want to get the wide players on the ball as quick as possible, but we have not always had those type of players.
"You see the difference when Kevin Harper comes into the team who is a natural wide player.Now we have had Scott Morrison playing there, who is filling in doing a great job, but he's a full back. We've had Stevie Crawford playing how many games for Stephen Kenny and for myself in midfield. We didn't have anyone else to put in there. So he has had to play in there.That detracts sometimes from the way we want to play the game.
"Jim Hamilton is a great outlet for a high ball. He is very similar to myself in that we win most of the things in the air and if you have someone with Mark's pace that can be a real asset. Now sometimes that is not just a lump up the park, that is a good long pass I would call it.
"I agree with what you are saying that if you go too direct too often, then it becomes predictable. If you were to come down and watch a training session, nobody is told to lump the ball up the park, it is all about passing and moving."
There was concern raised that players would be playing up to the Manager to get extensions to their contracts at the end of the season. Jim McIntyre amused the audience with his reply:-
"Nobody has kissed my arse that's for sure.My wife wouldn't be happy about that. Obviously everybody is entitled to an opinion.You have been watching most or all of the games, I wasn't in charge for the Hamilton game."
Jim was interrupted by a supplementary that suggested unprofessional on the park.He replied:-
"Nobody is denying that there was unrest in the camp. Greg has already touched on that, if you come into your workplace every day and you're not happy, you can't expect to go out on a Saturday and be happy as well. If your training regime is poor, you're going to be poor on a Saturday, it is that simple.
"Players are only as good as the standards that are put on in training.There are plenty people at this Club who are excellent professionals and work their backsides off every day. I see them every day so I think I have a better judgement on that score."
The Manager went on to discuss injuries and how they came about.
"What can you say about injuries. People get injured.I think a lot to do with the injuries is our base at Pitreavie. The surface is so uneven and the drainage is terrible so you are having to go sometimes from Astroturf, especially at this time of year, back to heavy grounds that is not getting proper drainage. Having to train on a slope, that's not conducive to not picking up injuries.
"I will re-iterate, picking up injuries is the last thing a player wants.
On the point about players that the Manager would like to have at the Club, Jim added:-
"You want players that are hungry, who train hard every day. We have got that type of player here already.
Gerry McCabe added:-
"It is great to see the numbers that are here tonight but you are here because you are passionate about the Club.Everybody has got an opinion, but believe us we are here with the same aims to bring success to Dunfermline Football Club.Nobody has a divine right to be successful, we know the ambitions but if the players at the Club are not as ambitious, not the same desire as us, then they will not be there. The Manager will know that.
"Going back to the game against Hamilton Accies.Things happen in football, but it is how they respond to it.Since Jim came in he has changed the fortunes a bit and getting results.Football is all about confidence in players, if players don't have confidence then you are up against it. You can give them the opportunity and the platform to go out and play in their training. Hopefully it is coming from them, you can't make them players but you can give them the opportunity to be players.
"At the end of the day it is up to the players to show that they are as passionate as the supporters.They want to bring success and if you get a bad result then everybody hurts - the fans hurt, the players hurt believe me.I think most of all the management and coaching staff, they hurt because at the end of the day they are responsible, especially the Manager."
Criticism of the lack of product from the youth system came from the floor to which the Manager replied:-
"You are spot on, we haven't produced enough good players from our youth system.We do not have a lot of money regarding that and I know Jim Leishman is working really hard behind the scenes.He managed to keep the U19's going this year with sponsorship deals. It is going to be up to the big man to try and generate more money because we have had the parachute payment from the Premierleague and money from getting to the Cup Final.That meant Stephen Kenny could keep pretty much the same squad, that is not going to happen now.
"We have had such a poor start to this season it is going to be very difficult to catch not one team but two teams. You are relying on two teams slipping up and us going on a run so therefore finances for next year are going to be slashed again.
"We are in discussions about the whole youth set up from the 17's down to the10's regarding the standard of coaches that we have to where we can increase the money, to the scouting system as well. We need to cast the net bigger to try and get these boys in so they are not going elsewhere.
Stephen Wright further commented:-
"It is a good point and I think Jim touched on it.I have had a bit of experience working with Rangers in their Youth Department.I know the most important guys in that department is the scouts. It is about getting loads and loads of scouts out watching kids games then getting them invited in to get them involved in community programmes. I have met a couple of the guys who work in the Community programme and they are doing a good job.
"It's getting the kids enjoying football and wanting to come in and play for Dunfermline Football Club rather than your Rangers and Celtics, Hearts and Hibs. It is getting the scouts out there, identifying the talent and hopefully you can mould them, getting them into a good system and hopefully get them up through the ranks. It costs money and more importantly it takes time as well. You need to give kids a lot of time, it doesn't happen overnight.
Jim McIntyre came back saying that good scouts are thin on the ground. There are not loads and loads of good scouts going about.It is alright saying you can be a scout, you can be a scout, but you need somebody who can actually spot a bit of talent as well. It does cost money and that's not what we've got a lot of just now. That is so important, that's something that we have touched on already and has to be improved upon. If we can pick them up at the early ages that can generate so much revenue for you at a later stage.
"It is a bit of a balancing act because the priority is to get out of this league and get back to the SPL where the bigger money is and where the Club belongs, but at the same time you cannot neglect the youth side either. There has got to be a future coming through as well."
A question was asked how the responsibilities were shared by the management team.
Gerry McCabe answered:-
"We work as a team, Jim as a Manager, will have the final say on players but we do sit down and look at the players we have available for the match in front of us and we discuss what system we can play, where is the best we can change it when things are not going right in the game.
"We talk about all that. On the fitness side myself and Stephen take the training because Jim is playing. We knew when we came in a couple of weeks ago that the fitness wasn't up to the level that we thought it should be. The players were the first to admit that. We have only had a short space of time to work with the players and we and the players feel that their fitness is going up a level.Maybe now at this time in the season they are going to be as fit as they can be, but all we can do is try and work with them every day to get them to the next level of fitness.
"On the tactical side, again it is what we have got available. 4-4-2 doesn't mean that it is a negative system. If you have wide men in the 4-4-2 it gives you more options, especially when you have Mark Burchill up front and defenders are frightened of his pace. You have to try and play to these guys strengths. Hammy is another guy who wins most of his balls in the air and I think that is a good tactic to have because you give them a problem.
"Maybe we have not been showing it in the early part of the season, but that is the way we want it.We want to be an attacking side but at the same time you can't go gung ho in games. Some teams will look at you and if teams are doing their job they will try and combat your strengths which we have to try and do as well.It is a bit of cat and mouse here.
"We do have someone watching the team we are going to play the following week to see how they set up.We set our tactics up but what we emphasise to our players is how we play and what we can do on the park. Where we can cause them problems. We do not go into the game being negative and say wait a minute that's a good team today, we have got to do this or that.We try and look at the positive side and concentrate on our team.
Jim McIntyre chipped in:-
"Training is discussed the day before. We make up our session planner on what we are going to do based on who we are playing that weekend, what we need to work on in terms of fitness and stuff. Once you get on the training park, because I am still a player, Stephen and Gerry take it. Everything is discussed as a three and we make our decisions together, depending on that.Obviously my say is final when it comes to picking a team, but everybody has got an input. If I am playing and on the park, I trust these two guys to make a decision to make a call that is necessary on a change of shape or change of substitution.
Mark Burchill was asked why he had made the gesture to his own fans after Dunfermline had scored against Partick Thistle at Firhill in the League match there back in December. He explained:-
"I felt that there was a rumour mill starting against the Club Captain at the time that I was very disappointed in saying he was back stabbing Stephen Kenny. I see the guy day in and day out, he wants to play, he wants to be fit, he wants to be in the team and he wants Dunfermline to win. Everyone who has been at recent games will have seen that Scott has performed well now he's back in the team.
"Stephen didn't pick him and I had heard from a few players, other people had told me that people were spreading rumours about Scott, things that just weren't nice and secondly a lot of you might have been Stephen Kenny fans but for me if you are a football fans you support your team.I am a Celtic fan and I went through Rangers nine in a row, I went home and away. I supported them, I wanted Celtic to win the league but it wasn't happening until after a long time.
"I felt for a while it was terrible we were getting beat.We wanted to be at the top of the league but we were near the bottom, but as a fan you are meant to be supporting your Club. I am not saying that you have to support us through it but at the time I just got frustrated that certain players were being picked on and there were personal insults.
"I am not going to apologise for what I have done because at the time I felt it was right, but obviously maybe the way I did it wasn't the proper way.It wasn't all the fans. I think personally Dunfermline has a good set of fans, but the minority were dragging the rest of the fans with them in the wrong direction. Everyone one of us wants to go up and be at the top of the league. All the players want to be top of the league and that was a misconception that some people thought that some of the players didn't want to be there.
"The guy (Scott Thomson) has done his best for Dunfermline over the years, this is his testimonial year and you are trying to tell me that he hasn't been trying for the Club. He has been excellent, a top, top performer for Dunfermline, but from the outside it looked as though he was trying to get the Club relegated or he was trying to get the Club not to compete.
"I was asked why I did it, I don't know where the rumour started or whatever but for a guy who has done so much for the Club I felt that it didn't go the right way. It was just frustration on my part.
"Fans pay their money to come in and they can have their own opinion but us as a Club, everyone of us, manager, players, fans we are together because we all want the same thing - Dunfermline back in the Premierleague it is as simple as that.Jimmy Calderwood had us in the top 6, that's exactly where this Club belongs. I have no doubt that you have the right manager in charge who is going to get us there eventually. Between now and the end of the season we have 15 league games and we are going to do our damnedest to win all 15. That would get everyone's confidence back up, the fans, manager, everyone. Hopefully we can do that."
"Players do react and it's the wrong thing to do but players are human beings as well and I defy anybody to take a mouthful when it's personal and really insulting and its very hard not to react.I know we are paid and we shouldn't react but sometimes we are human beings and we do react.
"I don't really want to go into the Scott Thomson thing too much but when the Captaincy was taken off him he was hung out to dry. It's as simple as that. That is when we were really struggling for results and the Manager decided that a change of captaincy was necessary. He took the vice-captaincy off Greg Shields as well and the two of them were injured and he wanted people who were playing to be Captain. To me that was last chance saloon and that was wrong. That's all I'll say about it.