Peter Grant admits to ‘feeling the pressure’ as calls for his dismissal intensified — but the Dunfermline boss remains convinced he is the right man for the job.
The Pars had picked up just one point from their opening four Championship fixtures ahead of Saturday’s visit of Inverness, shipping 11 goals in the process.
Another ramshackle, heavy home defeat would have likely spelled the end of Grant’s reign, making him the shortest-serving permanent Dunfermline manager of all time.
But a gutsy, organised and, at times, creative display against the league leaders has earned the former Celtic and Scotland coach a reprieve.
The 0-0 stalemate represents the first time any side has taken league points off the Caley Jags this term, while it was Dunfermline’s maiden clean sheet under Grant. Progress.
Moreover, the hosts should have claimed all three points, with Nikolay Todorov heading straight into the arms of Mark Ridgers from six yards in the closing stages. Craig Wighton and Vytas Gaspuitis also came close.
“It has been a difficult four or five weeks — I am not one of those guys who kid you on and say that I have not been feeling the pressure,” said Grant. “Of course you do.
“If I was younger, I would probably have dealt with things differently, thinking maybe you are not good at the job.
“But I know that the work that we are putting in is the correct work.
“Ross [McArthur, chairman] and Thomas [Meggle, sporting director] see the work and they know the difficulties we have had.
“But I think I have good enough players — no matter what team I have — to put on a performance. We have not done that often enough.
“The criticism that goes with that I deserve. I have no problem with that.”
Regardless of the signs of life, Dunfermline remain at the foot of the Championship after five matches.
That would be a grim picture under any circumstances, let alone after a new manager promised supporters that they would target the title.
The Pars face second-bottom Hamilton next Saturday. Quick-fire trips to Raith Rovers and Queen of the South follow in the subsequent week. Then the October international break looms large.
Logic dictates that Grant must turn Saturday’s improved performance into passable points tally before that hiatus.
“Hopefully we are going in the right direction but we know that we have a hell of a lot of work to do,” added Grant. “That is a fact. We have to get better at a lot of things. We have to be more clinical; get more clean sheets.”
Amid pre-match talk of walkouts and protests, the Dunfermline players received a warm reception as the full-time whistle blew; appreciation of a vastly improved showing.
And Grant added: “I’d never criticise supporters for anything. They pay their money and deserve to voice their opinion — good, bad or indifferent. But I thought that they were fantastic on Saturday.”