Tag Archives: Dunfermline

Match Preview – Dunfermline vs Dundee United

Let’s get one thing straight, the playoffs are a time for unwavering support. This blog post will be a positive one, a supportive one and one that will hopefully lift the spirits a little.  These upcoming fixtures may lead to nothing but as long as we are in the playoffs the reality is that we are one step closer to a promotion and a return to the Premiership. It might seem like a pipe dream and it might seem like we require a footballing miracle but this is football after all and miracles can and do happen. If we are to demand every last ounce of energy from the players then we as fans must also give the same.

Fatigue will play a part but the supporters can alievate that a little by giving the players that extra ounce of energy. We faltered badly by the time we reached the Hamilton games last season but there is more depth to this squad and we do, on paper, have more options in most areas of the park. The team is also actually on a pretty good run of form (Queen of the South apart). There is more than enough experience in this squad to see off Dunfermline and then Livingston next week. As I write this I know some of it sounds like an alien language compared to recent blog posts but once again I say, this is football and miracles can happen. From the moment I step into East End Park tomorrow to the moment that the final whistle is blown in whatever playoff fixture we end up in the team will get my complete backing. The United fans are a loyal bunch when the pressure is on and if early ticket sales are anything to go by the team will have the support they want. It is all down to them. I would suggest that these playoff games are like one-off domestic cup fixtures, the team that wants to win the battle will be the team that wins out in the end.

I also hope that in all of is managerial experience we have someone in charge who can at least try to tactically navigate his way through these high-pressure ties. In Csaba Laszlo we have a manager who is eccentric and unpredictable so maybe, just maybe this is the kind of environment he will thrive in. He has promised a new Dundee United, he has promised that things will be different in playoffs. Csaba, I hope that you are right.

I’m not sure what kind of system the manager will deploy tomorrow but I hope that he picks a side who can play the occasion and not the game. I know that maybe sounds like the complete opposite of what a manager would say but to be honest the winning formula in a playoff game is the occasion taking over and giving the players the energy and passion to get over the finishing line. I look to the St.Mirren game recently as an example of a team playing the occasion. We fought, we battled and we bent the rules a little when it came to gamesmanship. For me this is what I want again tomorrow as we travel to Dunfermline. The home leg is maybe an opportunity to open up a bit more but I think tomorrow is all about stamping your authority on the tie.

All talk of form, head-to-heads and hoodoos don’t really make a difference in my opinion. It might be that football record books show that we have a ridiculously good record over Dunfermline but others might say that maybe now is the time for them to end that. Tomorrow and Friday are about heart and fight, not statistics and form guides.

When all is said and done and as we look ahead to these games against Dunfermline and beyond remember, this is football and miracles do happen…

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Match Preview – Dundee United vs Dunfermline Athletic

I decided earlier in the week that I wouldn’t do too many ‘Match Review’ posts over the next few weeks and that I would stick to the ‘Previews’ instead. This is partly due to the fact that we have so many games coming up that it would be too much hassle but the main reason is that each match review reads the same as the last. No urgency on the ball, incredibly predictable ‘possession’, little fight in the team and no real sense of wanting to win. There is also the small matter of the fact that at the moment the current Dundee United team don’t really deserve my time. This seems to be the case for more and more fans as the crowd against Queen of the South almost dipped below the 4000 mark. Supporters are turning their back on this side and when fans become tired of the same old rubbish they take a lot of convincing to come back. In a week where the club announced their season ticket package for 2018/19 I certainly found myself sitting there on Tuesday night wondering how I could justify nearly £400 for another year of unsatisfactory football. The players, employees of the club, are not doing their job properly.

As we look ahead to the game against Dunfermline we could find ourselves down to 6th in the table by 4:50pm on Saturday. It would take a swing of a few goals and a surprising result or two but the fact that we are even within touching distance of 6th is simply not acceptable. If Dunfermline do beat us at the weekend then that is 1 point out of 9 in the three home games since the win in Dumfries. Again, this is simply not acceptable.

If you did go along to Tannadice on Tuesday you would have witnessed a reasonably satisfying opening 20 minutes. A fresh look to the team seemed to make a difference and for a little while it looked like United were making some progress in the final third. Unfortunately the team reverted to type after the Queen of the South opener. All of a sudden we again looked like a mentally fragile side with no real desire to do the work that is needed to win a football match. Yes we managed to drag it back to 2-2 but it all felt like it was a bit of an accident rather than it being through a blistering second half performance. The inevitable winner for Queens came as no surprise and as the players trudged back to the centre circle after that 75th minute goal you knew exactly how the game was going to finish.

Who is to blame at the moment? The reality is that pretty much everyone at Tannadice has to shoulder some of the responsibility. It feels as though there is a poison at Dundee United and it will take a major, major reconstruction of almost every aspect of the club to get things back on track. The players are not good enough, the coaching is clearly not working, the recruitment has been shocking and there is the continued uncertainty over the ownership of the whole business.

The team that takes to the field tomorrow will probably feature a few changes and it might also finally see the debut of Bilel Moshni. The signing of the former Rangers man was cleared this week and at least adds a bit of intrigue to the game in the sense that we are all fully expecting him to be absolutely mental.

Csaba Laszlo mentioned in his pre-match media interviews that Jordi Briels is still definitely injured but that Emil Lyng (remember him?) is back to full fitness.

I’d be keen to change things once again for tomorrow and it might be worth trying a 5-3-2 just to see if we can fail but in a more entertaining way.

My side for tomorrow would be  –

GK – Deniz Mehmet

 

RWB – Anthony Ralston

CB – Bilel Mohsni

CB – Mark Durnan

CB – Tam Scobbie

LWB – Jamie Robson

 

CM – Grant Gillespie

CM – Scott Fraser

CM – Sam Stanton

 

ST – Thomas Mikkelsen

ST – Scott McDonald

 

Subs – Harry Lewis, Matty Smith, Logan Chalmers, Emil Lyng, Paul McMullan, Billy King, Willo Flood.

Key Player – Anthony Ralston. One positive from the game on Tuesday night was the positive impact from on loan Celtic defender Ralston. He is a strong and powerful fullback who enjoys trying to beat his man but is also interested in doing the ‘dirty work’ at the back. I am looking forward to seeing a bit more of him during this run in.

 

 

Match Review – Dunfermline vs Dundee United – 13/1/18

In normal circumstances a result like last week’s 6-1 humiliation against Falkirk may have resulted in me boycotting the next away game as a form of protest but unfortunately Steak Bridies exist in this world and I cannot say no to an East End Park Steak Bridie (or two). The reality though is that, despite saying this every week, the Dunfermline game became the most important of the season far. If we won and won well then the season looked like getting back on track. Lose, and hear the news that St.Mirren had won away at Dumbarton then it looks like things are getting to stage where it is done and dusted. Another season in the Championship would be a disaster for the club so it really is all or nothing right now.

The paper talk all week was quite bullish from Csaba Laszlo. Shouts of “we are Dundee United” and the claim that even Celtic wouldn’t put 6 past his side have meant that the build-up to the game has been quite intriguing. Before the Dunfermline fixture Laszlo stated, “As a player I don’t remember we lost like this ever and on the field I tried to keep the stability in my team. As a manager I don’t lose like this with six goals. It was like a nightmare, but this was reality, not a nightmare.”

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In an ideal world fans would have liked to have seen Laszlo ring the changes but the reality is we don’t have the squad capable of it and Laszlo himself said, “If you have the possibility for change, maybe you change but I want the people back in charge,”.

Hopefully my Steak Bridies are not the only good thing to come out of the visit to East End Park…

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So, the big question on everybody’s lips, “would United give us a reaction after last week?”

The answer? No.

From the first minute the United team seemed happy for the ball to be played across the back four and happy for play to be built up incredibly slowly. Dunfermline coped with this very easily and it resulted in a very poor 90 minutes from Csaba Laszlo’s team. The reality is that without Scott Fraser and Fraser Fyvie the team seems to have lost a bit of spark. There is very little going forward and no real control in the middle of the park. Today’s performance felt just as deflating as last week. I was genuinely looking forward to this afternoon because I assumed that it would be a United side full of fight and aggression. Sadly it was a fairly insipid performance, made all the worse with the result from Dumbarton. We are now 8 points behind St.Mirren and the title race is officially out of our own hands. In the space of three weeks we have gone from being in control to being cut adrift and hoping for other results to go our way. We of course have a game in hand and a home fixture against St.Mirren in March but we don’t look like title winners at present.

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The team today should have had enough to beat Dunfermline but the manner in which we went about our business meant that it was all too easy for the Pars. Things could have been even worse if the home side had managed to finish one of the three or four good chances they had in the last fifteen minutes. It felt like, to me, that we were almost playing for the point in the end. It might have been nerves after last week but to be honest it should have been a performance of attacking intent, not one that resulted in incredibly safe and predictable football.

Dundee United Player Ratings – 

25. Harry Lewis – 5 – Guilty of incredibly poor distribution. Didn’t have a huge amount to do apart from making three very good saves, two of which came directly from his own mistakes.

4. Mark Durnan – 7 – It says a great deal about a performance when you feel that one of your central defenders was the best player in the side. He made some very important interceptions and kept things together at the back.

3. Tam Scobbie – 4 – Another really poor performance from Scobbie who made a number of bad judgement calls at the back and was caught for pace on a few occasions.

16. Willo Flood – 6 – Did a reasonable job at right-back and came to the rescue a few times. Didn’t get forward too often. 

17. Jamie Robson – 6 – Much more comfortable on the left hand side. Like Flood he didn’t get forward to often and he had to make up for Scobbie’s mistakes on a few occasions.  

15. Craig Slater – 6 – Grew in to the game as it went on and looks like a decent enough player. Didn’t stamp enough authority on to the game .  

12. Sam Stanton – 6 – Similar to Slater. Did okay but did not do enough on the ball and didn’t manage to get the better of the Dunfermline midfield.

7. Paul McMullan – 6 – Credit to McMullan for putting in a real shift. He hassled and harried but his final ball, as always, was lacking. He missed a good chance towards the end of the game.  

11. Billy King – 5 – Completely out of the game in the first half and only really saw the ball on a few occasions during the second 45. Flashes of positivity but not enough. 

58. Emil Lyng – 5 – Looks a decent enough handful but let down badly by the supply in to his feet or the lack of crosses into the box.

8. Scott McDonald – 4 – For me it was another really poor performance from someone who did plenty of talking during the week. His decision-making in particular was very, very poor.

Subs – 5. Paul Quinn (2) You must assume Stanton was injured otherwise it was a very strange decision to bring Quinn on. He did very little as a central midfielder.

Man of the Match – For me it was Mark Durnan. It shouldn’t be the case that a central defender becomes your key man but the reality is we relied on him to bail us out on several occasions today.

Next Fixture – The league takes a break as we travel to play Alloa in the Scottish Cup. If we were flying high at the top of the table I would say play your strongest team but to be honest it should be used to field some fringe players and work on fitness for those lacking it. Laszlo has a lot of work ahead of him over the next fortnight, and hopefully a couple of new signings might be on the horizon.

Match Preview – Dunfermline vs Dundee United

There is little doubt that United fans will be approaching Saturday’s game against Dunfermline with some anger still to subside after the 6-1 thrashing against Falkirk. It was one of the worst performances in living memory and will take a long time to get over. One group of people who do need to move on, and quickly, are the players. Much has been said in the last few days with players publicly apologising in the newspapers, on ArabZone and on their social media platforms. Talk is cheap though and the only comfort for United fans will be a good result and a strong performance.

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The fact that our next opponents are Dunfermline could act as a blessing or a curse. We actually have a strong record against the Pars but we must be wary of the fact that they will have seen last week’s result and fancy their chances. They are on a good run of form and one thing Dunfermline can do is score goals so it will be vitally important that the defensive errors that were there for all to see at the weekend are cut out. You would hope that despite a persistent injury Mark Durnan would be back in the starting eleven and, for me, Cammy Ballantyne deserves an opportunity at right-back (assuming Stewart Murdoch is still injured). It was the wrong call by Laszlo to expose Jamie Robson on his weaker side against Falkirk. He really struggled but so did Brandon Mason. He had a nervy 90 minutes and looked every bit the inexperienced defender on the left hand side. Those two had really poor games but they were not helped by the experienced central defenders also showing major weaknesses that the Falkirk players exploited far too easily.

In the deeper midfield positions we are limited with options but for me the two sitting players should be Sam Stanton and Craig Slater. I feel a little sorry for Willo Flood but his performances against Falkirk and St.Mirren, both away from home, were well below what is expected from him. The Dunfermline central midfield is arguably one of their weaker areas so if Stanton and Slater can dominate then we could gain control of the game.

That leaves the forward area. Nobody came out of the Falkirk game with any credit but again we are a little bit short on numbers. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a reshuffle but lack of bodies means that we are limited. James Keatings (who may be injured again) was totally anonymous last Saturday and for me it would be an easy decision to relegate him to the bench if others are available. There seems to be a little bit of confusion surrounding Paul McMullan’s two game suspension with some newspapers claiming he is banned but others saying that his second game is in fact next week. If he is available he should play instead of Keatings. The same selection dilemma is a bit more difficult when it comes to Scott McDonald. I think the veteran forward has some big attitude issues when things are not going his way and his body language against Falkirk was atrocious. He is, however, our top scorer and can be a game changer in terms of his finishing and awareness. I would probably go with a three of McMullan, McDonald and Keatings in behind our new striker Emil Lyng. The giant Dane didn’t really get a sniff during his brief cameo in the last game so he should be given the opportunity to lead the line against Dunfermline.

My team would be –

GK – Harry Lewis

 

RB – Cammy Ballantyne

CB – Mark Durnan

CB – Tam Scobbie

LB – Jamie Robson

 

CM – Craig Slater

CM – Sam Stanton

 

RM – Billy King

CAM – Scott McDonald

LM – James Keatings/Paul McMullan

 

ST – Emil Lyng

 

Subs – Deniz Mehmet, Brandon Mason, Paul Quinn, Willo Flood, Logan Chalmers, Matty Smith, Scott Allardice.

Key Player – Emil Lyng – A massive opportunity for the new striker to become the main man for United. We have been guilty of not taking chances this season so if he can get off the mark on Saturday then he could be the man to make a difference over the next few months.

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This Saturday the team need to put on a performance for the large travelling support. We normally take good numbers through to East End Park and this would be the perfect opportunity to show them that the team are still in the fight for the title. If we end up losing or dropping points then it could be last chance saloon if St.Mirren carry on winning. They play Dumbarton away and their lead at the top could be extended to nine points if we lose against Dunfermline.

 

Scottish Championship Mid-Term Report Card – Dunfermline Athletic

I like Dunfermline. East End Park was the first regular away ground for me and my dad so I have always enjoyed going to watch football there. There is also the small matter of the best food in football (I am more than happy to queue behind a dodgy ticket scanner for hours to get a couple of steak bridies).

Going into the start of this campaign I would have had Dunfermline as potential title challengers alongside United, Falkirk and St.Mirren. Until October it looked like that was going to be the case but one league win since the start of November has seen the Pars fall way behind the top two. Fans must be frustrated at the lack of progress under Allan Johnston this season. maxresdefaultHe has now been in charge for just over two years but to be honest, for me it looks more and more likely that he has simply taken his side as far as he can. The criticism of Johnston is quite often directed towards his tactical naivety and his inability to manage game situations properly. His side play good football and they attack well but there is an imbalance in the squad that needs addressing. There is probably no real danger of a change of manager right now but it might be the case that the board may look elsewhere when his contract expires in the summer.

Dunfermline supporters will be incredibly frustrated that they have not seen their side make more of a push towards promotion. The league this year is anybody’s guess and to be honest the Pars should be in the mix. In my opinion one big factor in the downturn in fortunes has been the lack of a proper midfield. Johnston has players out of position and to me they lack at least two central midfielders who can control games and distribute the ball properly. Bizarrely the potential targets in January (according to rumours) contain more strikers.

Getting away from the pitch I think Dunfermline deserve a lot of credit for the hard work in introducing a number of different initiatives and community projects over the last 18 months. Dunfermline should be applauded in making efforts to improve many of the behind the scenes things that fans might not always notice. After a turbulent few years it looks like Dunfermline are back to being a stable, well run, community club (and others could learn a thing or two from it).

January Wishlist – It is vital that Dunfermline add to their midfield. They need real quality in the middle of the park which would take the pressure away from the players who are playing in there at the moment. One issue for Johnston might be that teams like Falkirk and Dundee United will be looking for a large number of players and Dunfermline may lose out as you would assume these clubs may be more desperate and offer larger contracts.

Player of the Season (so far) – Quite a difficult job this. All of Dunfermline’s key men have suffered from real inconstancy this season and the forward line is full of players like Joe Cardle who can destroy teams one game and then be totally anonymous the next. Personally Declan McManus is someone who I rate highly. SportPix_SCHAM_Dun-v-Bre_CB23122017017_5138He has been a bit of a nomad in his career so far but at 23 he may have found some stability at Dunfermline.

Predicted Finish – 5thIt is pretty much an impossible task to predict where Dunfermline and a few other teams might finish this season. They still have the capability in this squad to finish in the playoff spots but the worry would be teams in and around them who may have a more successful January transfer window. I can see Dunfermline just missing out on a playoff spot.

Manager Grade – C. I’m a big believer in managerial cycles. Might it be that Allan Johnston is coming to the end of his? In recent months they feel like a team who have run out of ideas, confidence and stability. They don’t really seem to have a tactical plan at the moment and it might just be the case that they need a fresh set of ideas. Dunfermline fans seem to be fairly split on the issue of managerial change but if they do not reach the playoffs then it would surely mean the end for Johnston.

Overall Grade – C. After a fantastic start it looked like Dunfermline may have been the team to beat this year. It makes it all the more frustrating for their fans that they now look much weaker than Livingston, St.Mirren and Dundee United. They also have two or three sides looking over their shoulder. A good run of form from Morton, Inverness or Queen of the South would see Dunfermline slip out of playoff contention. The January window (and tricky fixture list) will tell us a great deal about what the second half of the season holds for the Pars.