Sporting director Thomas Meggle has leapt to the defence of embattled Dunfermline boss Peter Grant, insisting even Jurgen Klopp would have struggled to overcome the challenges of recent weeks.
Former St Pauli player and coach Meggle is the football mind of the Fifers’ new owners, DAFC Fussball GmbH, and was firmly behind Grant’s appointment during the summer.
However, Grant is already under mounting pressure following a winless start to the Championship campaign.
The visit of Inverness on Saturday already looks make-or-break.
While Meggle pointedly noted ‘Peter knows he is responsible for the team performance’ and that Dunfermline ‘should have the goal of finishing in the top four’, he did cite mitigating factors for the current ‘negative spiral’.
Dunfermline were recently forced to forget their SPFL Trust Trophy encounter against Elgin City due to Covid cases, injuries and international call-ups.
The Pars’ training pitch at Alloa’s Indodrill Stadium was a ghost town during that period.
And Meggle stated: “How is he supposed to change things in the last couple of weeks when he is sometimes on the training pitch with only six players?
“How is he supposed to practice defensive behaviour with the team?
“In the last two weeks I was shocked that a game had to be forfeited because of too few players. We had five players self-isolating due to Covid, six injured players and two players were away with their national teams.
“I am proud to have national players in the Dunfermline team, but in this particular situation it did not help us.
“The basis of success in football is training — if players cannot train, for whatever reason, it would be difficult even for [Jurgen] Klopp, [Thomas] Tuchel or [Hansi] Flick.”
Dunfermline’s porous back-line has been a particular source of ire among the Pars faithful, with Grant’s charges shipping 16 goals in their last five competitive fixtures.
Those outings have been peppered with mistakes and errant decision making.
Meggle lamented: “In every game, a brutal individual mistake steers us in the wrong direction.
“That leads to a loss of self-confidence and belief in ourselves. In addition, we probably defend too carelessly and lose the ball in spaces where it is often deadly.
“The basis — the foundation of success in football is the defensive work — and the salt in the soup is the offensive.”
In a Q&A on Dunfermline’s official website, Meggle reaffirmed the new owners’ intention to create a new youth academy and build a new training ground; major projects and cause for real optimism regarding the future.
But Meggle acknowledges that some supporters may feel disaffected, rather than positive, when they take their seats at East End Park on Saturday.
He continued: “I can understand everyone who is dissatisfied and articulates their dissatisfaction. They give time and money to watch games.
“They love this club and some of them have tattoos that are meant to last forever.
“I can only ask every fan to support our players, but I also have to accept when they don’t do it. The team must focus on itself. They have to tolerate that they can only help themselves on the pitch by everyone fighting for everyone else.
“That brings me back to the theme, do your job for the team!”
Meggle’s address also represented a confirmation that he has been given the role of sporting director, overseeing myriad tasks that — in his view — should not fall under the remit of the manager.
He added: “[The manager] cannot take care of medium and long-term issues. This is where I see my task.
“What kind of football do we want to play? What principles should be taught in the youth sector and in the professional team? Accordingly, profiles can then be worked out as to which type of player we want to sign.
“It is also important to organise and manage the individual departments around a team. I’m referring to departments such as scouting/recruitment, video analysis, medicine, athletics and rehab.
“These departments have the task of making every player better every day in order to achieve the goals of the club.”