Edinburgh City midfielder Marc Laird is determined to help give boss James McDonaugh an early Christmas present tomorrow – a first win in charge.
City travel to Annan yet to win under the ex-Falkirk assistant, managing three draws along with six defeats in the nine games since he took over in October from Gary Jardine.
Last Saturday’s 2-1 home loss to Stenhousemuir was down to “naivety’ according to McDonaugh and, while Laird hopes he and his team-mates can put that right on the Solway Firth, he acknowledges the need for a much-improved performance.
“It’s been nine games since the manager’s taken over and everybody is disappointed for him and that we’ve not got a result for him,” said the former Man City midfielder. “He’s come in, training’s been really good and everything’s been in place for us to do well but, as players, we need to take responsibility and start stepping up.
“There have been performances where we’ve done alright in halves, but we need to do that over 90 minutes. On Saturday, we were really poor first half – it was a really below-par performance. The second half we improved but we can’t play two halves totally differently.
“We need a good spell at least in both halves – we didn’t do that and were punished for it which is how the result ended up as it was.”
Another factor was Farid El Alagui’s unfortunate slip while taking a second-half penalty at 2-1 as he sent the ball high over Chris Smith’s crossbar. While performances haven’t always been up to scratch, it did illustrate the dearth of luck City have encountered, even when they have played reasonably well.
“It was unfortunate for Farid with the penalty on Saturday – it was like an ice rink up the top end there,” Laird explained. “He’ll be disappointed, but the week before [in a 1-1 draw at Elgin] he put one in the top corner and that just shows you the quality he’s got.”
Laird equalised for City with his first goal of the season, and admits he’s been disappointed with his overall return since signing for the club more than a year ago. “It’s been disappointing from my own perspective, I think I’ve only scored one other time for Edinburgh City since I joined,” he reflected. “I class myself as a box-to-box midfielder so I need to chip in with goals. That’s one thing I need to improve on this season because I didn’t do it last season. Every goal counts at the moment.”
What Laird did do last term was help City through a barren run at the start of the campaign. That experience, as well being in similar situations during his time in English football, will hopefully help them stop the current rot sooner rather than later.
“I’ve said it before when I came, but I’ve been through it before at Yeovil Town,” he said. “I think we were on eight points, maybe nine or 11 points adrift of everybody, then had a really, really good Christmas period. All of a sudden we turned it around and teams started thinking they weren’t going to catch us.
“I had it the other way at Tranmere Rovers as well. We were maybe nine or ten points clear of Hartlepool United and I remember thinking at the time we had a good little gap on them.
“All of a sudden they put back-to-back wins together and the pressure started to build.
“All we can do is make sure every week we turn up with the right attitude to try and get those three points and I’m sure it will come. We’ve got enough quality and experience in the squad but we need to start performing and getting the results we need to get out of this situation.”
City are now one point ahead of bottom club Cowdenbeath after the Fife club’s midweek draw against Stenhousemuir.
The Blue Brazil have a game in hand on City, so a result at Annan is needed to keep some distance between the two. “We played Annan in the manager’s second or third game,” said Laird. “I’d like to think we’ve taken on his ideas since then and we’ll be a different team this time around. They’ve gone well this season, though, as they did last season after putting a good run together. They’ve got some good players so it’s going to be a tough game, but I don’t think we should fear anybody.”