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4 major problems the next Dunfermline manager must solve to escape relegation mire

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As Dunfermline’s ‘robust’ recruitment process continues apace, the scale of the task facing their next manager is apparent.

Five points adrift of guaranteed Championship safety and the only side in the SPFL without a league win, survival would now represent an achievement for the Pars.

It is no poison chalice. The Dunfermline job remains a fantastic opportunity and platform for the right boss.

However, several issues must be rectified. And fast.

A striking dilemma

Dunfermline are the lowest scorers in the Championship with 10 goals.

Only St Johnstone (eight) and Cowdenbeath (nine) have rippled the net with less regularity in all four tiers of the SPFL.

It is a ludicrous state of affairs for a squad which boasts the attacking talents of Craig Wighton, Nikolay Todorov, Kevin O’Hara, Kai Kennedy, Dom Thomas and Ryan Dow.

However, a failure to find the right combination of Wighton, Todorov and O’Hara characterised Peter Grant’s ill-fated 156 days in charge.

Pairings were chopped and changed, with momentum non-existent.

The next manager must find a system that gets the best out of Dunfermline’s creative options without losing all semblance of stability.

Away Record

Dunfermline have not won an away league match since defeating Alloa on October 24, 2020; more than a year of Championship football.

It is a travel sickness that precedes the reign of Grant.

Under Stevie Crawford, whose tenure is looking more impressive with every passing week, the Pars often seemed more concerned with shackling the opposition that imposing themselves on the game.

That win over Alloa was their only league triumph on the road in the whole of the 2020/21 campaign.

The arrival of Grant did little to address this glaring issue, with dismal displays at Ayr United, Queen of the South and Arbroath proving particularly grim.

While any victory would be manna from heaven at this stage, finding a way to grind out three points on their travels is pivotal for Dunfermline.

Soft centre

The Pars conceded just five goals in seven matches between September 18 and October 26, stemming the flow of goals against.

However, that was to the detriment of any attacking threat.

Dunfermline are yet to prove that they can balance defensive solidity with attacking impetus.

The Pars have shipped 23 goals in 13 Championship fixtures. Only Hamilton (25) have been more porous at the back.

Morton’s Gozie Ugwu is allowed to score from three yards out

Familiar failings reappeared in defeats against Arbroath (4-2) and Morton (3-1); conceding from simple set-pieces, a lack of aggression and poor decision-making.

It is also such a quiet Dunfermline side.

Owain Fon Williams makes his presence known and Mark Connolly is a talker, but the lack of vocal leadership is notable; a sea of shrugs and hangdog glances when the chips are down.

Whether in the January transfer market or by bringing certain players out of their shells, the next boss needs to address Dunfermline’s soft centre.

Invigorate the supporters

One of the most alarming aspects of Saturday’s defeat against Morton was the lack of reaction from the sparse crowd at East End Park.

No anger, vitriol or howls of desperation — just noiseless, insidious apathy.

In many ways, ambivalence is so much worse than fury.

The drums fall silent

Reeling from a poor managerial appointment and with a squad seemingly ill-equipped for a relegation scrap, supporters are disillusioned and downcast.

However, if the next Dunfermline boss can reinvigorate this sizeable, success-starved fanbase with positive words, heartening performances and a few precious victories, the mood could change rapidly.

And it is impossible to overstate the positive impact that would have on those players on the pitch.