Peter Grant has downplayed criticism of Dunfermline’s tactical set-up, insisting: “Formations don’t lose games of football, people lose games of football.”
The Pars’ 3-4-3 set-up has appeared vulnerable during recent heavy defeats against Rangers and Partick Thistle, with both Glasgow clubs getting plenty of joy down the flanks.
In total, the East End Park outfit have shipped 10 goals in their last three matches.
However, the Dunfermline boss believes it is too simplistic to blame the shape for the disappointing run.
“People will always question you when you’re not winning,” said Grant. “When you lose a couple of games, everyone thinks it [the formation] rubbish.
“Supporters will always look for something — and that’s not me being critical. I understand that and I do it myself when I watch games.
“But a couple of weeks ago it was brilliant and everyone was singing and dancing. I had to put the brakes on and say: ‘no, we’ve got a million miles to go yet’.
“When players aren’t playing well enough it’s the system that gets the blame. It’s not the system that loses us the games, it’s our performance.”
Shutting up shop
Grant is, however, acutely aware of the need to tighten up at the back after watching his porous Pars succumb to a combination of sloppy errors and simple set-pieces in recent weeks.
“I think it was Johan Cruyff who said, ‘my goalkeeper is my first attacker and my striker is my first defender’,” continued Grant. “I don’t think we’ve done well enough as a group.
“You’ve got to take responsibility and do your job.
“It’s your job to head the ball away; get the block in; not give possession away; not give away a silly penalty-kick — but that’s what we’ve done time and time again.”
John Lundstram smashes one in off the bar for his first Rangers goal! 💥
— Premier Sports (@PremierSportsTV) August 13, 2021
However, the former Scotland coach has been heartened by the response from his squad this week, revealing that his players were every bit as mystified by their 5-0 capitulation against Rangers as he was.
“When the boys looked back on the game, I could see them sitting there scratching their heads and saying: ‘is that really me?’,” he continued. “I’ve been in that situation, thinking: why didn’t I play this pass? Why did I do that?
“That’s easy after the event — I’ve never lost a football match on the blackboard.”
However, Grant added: “I have really good players who can play at a high level. I haven’t bought guys to play non-league football. I’ve brought people in who can play at the highest level and can handle the ball.”
‘There’s no hiding place’
Dunfermline will get the chance to prove that on Friday night when they travel to Stark’s Park to face Raith Rovers, with a demanding away following fully expecting a response.
“The fans are desperate for the team to do well and we feel their support,” added Grant. “We know they get frustrated when we don’t play well but that’s the nature of being at a football club.”