It may be a strange thing to say at this moment in time but I have always enjoyed the latter stages of the football season where prizes are rewarded and the final league positions confirmed.
However, it would be fair to acknowledge this season hasn’t brought me overwhelming joy. Yesterday’s defeat at St Mirren only added salt into the widening wounds after Dunfermline’s comprehensive victory over Aberdeen from the previous day. I felt the players allowed their heads to drop after conceding the winning goal and this isn’t the actions any supporter of the club wants to see when we’re in such a perilous state. We need 11 battlers on the field who are prepared to fight for everything as the club’s SPL future continues to remain in doubt.
From a neutral perspective, these two results are just what the doctor ordered with the Pars now reducing the gap to just three points. I was perhaps a bit premature with my assessment that victory in the Highlands over Inverness a couple of weeks back was the result that would secure our SPL safety. How wrong could I be? It just shows you simply cannot rest on your laurels at any time within the professional game. I always had a niggling feeling Jim Jefferies would manage to find Dunfermline a victory they so badly craved. Perhaps the warning signs were there for all to see when they managed to come back from 4-2 down to net a draw in Paisley last week. They are certainly showing their battling qualities and aren’t prepared to go down without a fight. We must therefore rise to the occasion.
Having failed to score in our last two outings and Dunfermline managing to find the net on no less than seven occasions, the substantial lead we had over our rivals in terms of goal difference has now also been significantly reduced. The men from Fife will be rejuvenated by the outcome from the weekend and will now start to believe that escaping from this relegation scrap, which at one stage seemed almost impossible, is now very much up in the air.
Having to fight for survival will hopefully keep the players focussed and determined with cup final places in jeopardy should this not transpire. But I cannot emphasise enough how important it is we focus on our next three league fixtures starting with a huge game on Wednesday night away to Aberdeen. Yesterday’s defeat is harder to accept considering we were the side who looked the most likely to score, yet have once again failed to take anything from the game. However, we cannot dwell on the ‘ifs’ and ‘buts’ and must do everything we can to achieve three points from Pittodrie.
I can’t help but think we must approach this game in the most attack-minded system available to the manager. Draws are simply not good enough and we must try everything in our power to take the game to Aberdeen. Should we manage to produce a win in the Granite City and Dunfermline fail in their quest at Inverness, the prospect of next Monday night’s fixture with our relegation rivals may become just a tad more bearable.
“Beware of the players who don’t perform under pressure” was the advice given to me by a previous experienced manager many years ago. I do believe he has a case where many a footballer has earned a new three-year contract for example on the back of putting together some decent displays in the so called meaningless games. It amazes me the amount of managers who wish to see contracts offered to players who only flourish when there isn’t a lot at stake.
As we know cup final fever is running throughout the streets of the Capital, probably more so on the west side of the city with Hibs fans still engaged by the fear of relegation. I am one of those supporters who cannot look ahead to this match until the destiny of our club has been confirmed.