He may have a new sporting director, but the on-field job and approach for Edinburgh City manager Gary Jardine will remain the same.
The Meadowbank club this week appointed Jim Jefferies to the aforementioned role. The former Hearts boss will work in tandem with Jardine on player recruitment, while generally lending his experience and knowledge when required to both the management team and fellow board members.
Although better known for operating at the top level with Hearts and Bradford City, Jefferies’ beginnings in the game are what arguably make him well suited to City. Starting at Hawick Royal Albert, Jefferies worked his way up to league football via Gala Fairydean to Berwick Rangers, so he is well aware of the limitations as well as expectations of clubs and players further down the league pecking order.
While Jardine welcomes the arrival of Jefferies, he is well aware that the important work will be done on the pitch, and in that sense, the addition of ‘JJ’ is one that will help City improve on what they’re doing already, rather than alter it completely. “It’ll be good and I think it’s a cracking step in the right direction for the club,” said Jardine. “He’s been involved in the game at every level and the experience that he has can only help the club, myself and Mac [assistant Ross Macnamara) in terms of coaching.
“I think already this season we’ve done fantastically well. The last two seasons, at this stage, we’ve been close to winning the league and it’s been all about getting the points to get us over the line that way. Now there’s a different goal to play for and something to achieve that would mean much more than winning the two Lowland League titles if we were to stay in this league.
“We have a way of playing and if Jim can help us expand on that then great, but it’s more a case of continuing to build on what we’ve already done at the club over the last six or seven years. It’s a step in the right direction and Jim’s knowledge of the game is fantastic.”
For Jardine’s players, the right direction is up. Montrose visit Meadowbank tomorrow with the hosts still searching for their first win of the calendar year. The five games since they won at Berwick on Hogmanay have yielded just one point and one goal.
In contrast, the Gable Endies have shot up the table since they became the first team in history to lose an SPFL fixture to City earlier in the season. Stewart Petrie has lifted them to fifth in Ladbrokes League Two since replacing Paul Hegarty in December, and Jardine cites them as an example of what a run of form can do for a team’s fortunes in this division.
“You would have to think so,” Jardine replied when asked if Montrose had made themselves safe from any potential relegation play-off. “With that many teams involved outside the top three or four, not everybody is going to reach 36 to 40 points. Montrose have done really well to turn it around and it’s amazing what a couple of wins can do for your confidence. We had that in November and December. I don’t think any club themselves would say they’re safe, but when you put a run of results together like they have then they’ll feel much better about themselves.”
City will be hoping to dampen their mood with a win tomorrow. Jardine felt last week’s performance in the 1-0 defeat at Annan was good, and is hopeful of being able to recall some senior players to help turn a good display in to points this week.
“Beats [Craig Beattie] and Joe [Mbu] trained last night so we’ll just have to see how they are,” he explained. They’re two important and experienced players for us. We’re not sure yet how they’ll be, but it would be nice to have them back.
“Similarly we’ll also have to see how Ouzy [See] is. He took a bad knock in training a fortnight ago so again he’s somebody that can add something to the squad. We played some really, really good football last week and I thought we were unfortunate not to come away with anything.”