On the 22nd of July this year (I don’t remember it, I had to check Google) I sat down to watch Dundee FC play Dunfermline in the League Cup. The game was on the TV and what unfolded was a very, very impressive display from the East End Park side. Using a 5-3-2 they controlled the game and brushed Dundee aside. After a performance like that I told anyone who would listen that Dunfermline were going to be title challengers.
Then the league season started…
In saying that they did visit Tannadice on the opening day and thoroughly dismantled us but after that things started to get grim. Three defeats on the bounce in the league and then a couple of draws meant that Allan Johnston had a bit of a mess on his hands and there were vocal calls from the stands for him to be relieved of his duties.
Fans are still calling for the manager to be sacked but things in October and November did pick up slightly. Dunfermline continue to frustrate their supporters and, in a side-show of the season so far, the board have recently been vocal about the fans (albeit a very, very small minority of the support). From the outside it all feels a bit fractured and like things are heading for a crisis of sorts.
In recent years the Dunfermline board have worked really hard to get the club back on an even footing but their continued support of the manager is something that is causing a rift between them and the fans. Action is required and, for many, the only action that is needed is for a change in direction.
This is an unforgiving league and any hint of club unrest will be pounced upon by opposition clubs. Dunfermline (along with Partick and Falkirk) have been caught up in this cut-throat environment and as a result it has been a pretty bleak season.
January Wishlist – A bit of everything really. Dunfermline need more goals in their team but they also need to be able to attract a certain calibre of player to the club and that will be the real challenge in January. Not only will they be competing against two or three other big clubs they will also need to convince players that Dunfermline is the right club and that is a challenge when things have been quite negative recently.
Player of the Season (so far) – Slim pickings here. Nobody has really stood out in this Dunfermline side and it is a sad reality that very few players in this squad have shown their true potential under their manager. That usually points to loss of faith in the man who is meant to lead them. I still think that Faissal El Bakhtaoui is one of the best players in the division and he still shows in spells that this is true. He needs to add more goals to his game.
Predicted Finish – 6th.
Manager Grade – D. Sorry ‘AJ’ but it looks like your time is up (and has been for a while). The board have shown a great deal of patience but the truth is that their lack of action is beginning to backfire as they have now missed the boat in terms of looking at other higher profile out of work Scottish managers (McIntyre and Neilson spring to mind). Might I suggest punting Johnston and making a move for Jim Goodwin?
Overall Grade – D. It just isn’t happening at Dunfermline and as I mentioned earlier on this isn’t the league for this type of environment at a football club. Other teams sense the weakness and fans begin to turn away from the team and crowds go down. Added to all of this is the fact that there is a serious need for a rebuild in terms of the playing squad and that is so difficult to achieve midway through a campaign. I have a soft spot for Dunfermline and in my mind they are a club that should easily be challenging for the league. They are a million miles away from that at the moment.