Dunfermline Athletic

Pars leaning on Whitt’s experience

Wednesday, 7th Oct 2020

Steven Whittaker looks forward to the season ahead while accepting his role on playing and training ground.

The opening match of the competitive season at Dumbarton on Tuesday night saw Steven Whittaker deployed in a deep midfield role sitting in front of the two central defenders Paul Watson and Euan Murray. It was a role that he was accustomed to especially after rejoining Hibs in 2017. After the match the 36 year old who signed a one year deal as a player / coach at Dunfermline in June this year, expanded on the options that he provides:-

“When I was younger I played in midfield but was known as a full back through my better years you could say but moved back into midfield. I enjoy it and I like it in there. I can read the game, try and break it up and get it forward to our more creative players.”

Nearly always described as an attack-minded right back, there is little doubt that Stevie Crawford is hoping to cash in on Steven’s wealth of experience. During his first spell at Hibs he made 174 appearances in all competitions, he won the CIS League Cup in 2007 before Rangers paid £2m for him in August that year sealing a big money move to Ibrox and subsequently playing in the English Premiership for Norwich City.

During his five years in Glasgow, Steven played 209 times, scoring 28 goals. He won three SPL titles, three League Cups and two Scottish Cups, and also helped Rangers to the final of the UEFA Cup in Manchester.

Now the Edinburgh born player has set his sights on success in the championship with the Pars and he is full of optimism for the campaign ahead. Lining up alongside the likes of Kyle Turner, Kerr McInroy, Fraser Murray with Dom Thomas and Ryan Dow as options on the flanks, Steven was very positive about his move to play his football north of the River Forth:-

“It is great, we have got together a good squad. We think that we have creativity in the forward areas. We have the options of Dec (McManus) and Kevin (O’Hara) playing upfront then we have Dom, Dowser, Kyle and Fraser. They are all versatile, they can play off either wing, they can play number ten, they can drop in next to me and obviously Kerr can do both as well.

“We have good options, even when Iain Wilson came on at the end against Dumbarton he was playing slightly further forward. He would probably want to play down next to me but we have the options of filling all the areas up and it looks like we have a good depth to the squad.”

Playing in central midfield Steven is ideally placed to read the game but he claimed that it was a responsibility shared saying:-

“We all know what we should be doing. Regardless of who is playing where, we should all know our jobs and know each other’s jobs as well to help each other out. I am central to that and the two centre backs are as well.

“We are all good talkers so hopefully that can put us in good stead if some of the younger lads switch off from time to time. I did that as a youngster, you might just drift. It is down to us and the other ones on it to keep us in line and keep us going.”

There is no doubt that the Pars players were up for their Betfred Cup kick off and for Steven it had been a little longer wait than most. His 2019-20 season ended earlier than most as a consequence of being sent off 55 minutes into Hibs final match on 7th March. He commented:-

“It has been a long time coming. The guys have been really looking forward to it, we had a good pre season and it was nice to have a competitive edge to the game, I think we all enjoyed it.”

His coaching role at Dunfermline has given him just as much satisfaction, he continued:-

“I am enjoying it and just mixing it through playing, keeping fit and keeping on top of stuff. I will learn as I am going, I might not train everyday with the load on the legs at my age. I need to get my own routine and I can take sessions while I am in it as well.

“I am getting used to that and learning from the other more experienced coaches and the manager as well, and just enjoying it. On recovery days the guys that never played might do a session that I can take. I am just chipping in when I can.”

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