John McGlynn has sought to pile the pressure on Dundee by insisting James McPake’s men have already failed to live up to pre-season expectations by not mounting a credible title challenge to Hearts.
Raith Rovers, by contrast, have over-achieved throughout an impressive campaign and, while Premiership football is now the goal, McGlynn does not expect his players to feel the same strain as those in Dark Blue on Wednesday evening.
“All the pressure is on Dundee,” he said. “Yes, our ambition is to get to the Premiership but, from the start of the season, they [Dundee] would have been looking to challenge Hearts to win the league.
“They find themselves in the playoffs instead — and that will bring an added pressure for them.
“We have gone into recent games without that pressure and have made sure the guys are relaxed. They are determined and focused, of course, but that they are calm and composed.”
He added: “Dundee would be expected to beat Raith Rovers over two legs and we need to start here at Stark’s Park and try to make them a bit worried; threaten them and hopefully knock them off course.”
And if they are to give the favourites a bloodied nose, they will do it the McGlynn Way; which continues to be an enormous source of pride.
Nerves were shredded and nails chewed down to the quick during Raith’s two-legged win over Fife rivals Dunfermline in the previous stage but, despite being carved open on the break several times over the course of 180 minutes, they stayed true to inventive, attacking football.
“That was one of the challenges that we set ourselves right at the very start: to continue to play that style in a bigger league; in a better league,” said McGlynn. “We have coped with adverse conditions at places like Arbroath and won away at Hearts at Tynecastle.
“Against Dunfermline, we didn’t panic and stray miles off what we had been doing. The players have been magnificent to buy into everything, take it on board and produce the goods.
‘These are the guys who cross the white line and a lot is left up to them. They make the decisions; see the passes; finish them off.”
He added: “I think we have surprised a few people. Before a ball was kicked and the fixtures came out, there was talk of Hearts, Dundee and Dunfermline — and pretty much everyone else. I think we were the only team never mentioned in the pre-season talk.
“I can understand that, having just come up, but we were playing good football in League 1. All we have done is continue to play the way we have been playing. That has taken us on.
“I think we did take a few teams by surprise and were perhaps a bit surprised in ourselves that we were so high in the table — but not surprised in the way that we played or the goals that we scored.”
For all the positivity on the pitch, Rovers are also making moves behind the scenes with the appointment of Karen Macartney as chief executive on Sunday.
It is hoped the experienced business figure will strengthen Raith’s infrastructure off the pitch, while developing partnerships in the local community and the wider arena of Scottish football.
“She’s been excellent in her previous work and I’m sure she’s going to do a great job for Raith Rovers,” lauded McGlynn. “I know football people will mainly look at the product on the park; that’s what everyone sees.
“But I’m hoping that the future is going to be bright, and that we’ll continue to improve both on and off the park. Hopefully, there is going to be money coming into the football club from all the work going on outside.
“That can maybe help the manager’s budget, which means attracting better players. Everything goes hand in hand.”
McGlynn is visibly excited by his part in that.
“That’s always been our philosophy,” he continued. “It is a matter of coming in to training and trying to learn and get better even day. That goes for every single department of this football club.
“We will be looking to improve and kick the football club on: the more success we have on the pitch it will build and build, and we will get stronger.”
Meanwhile, McGlynn has dropped the biggest hint yet that Frankie Musonda, who underwent surgery at the end of last week, could sign an extension to his Stark’s Park deal.
The 23-year-old was a standout performer prior to suffering a serious knee injury in April — and the former Luton Town defender is out of contract in the summer.
“Frankie had an operation on Friday,” added McGlynn. “We would expect him to be back for the start of the season.
“It was a fragment of patella tendon that was loose, so to speak, and there is a timescale. It should get him back for the start of next season.”
Asked whether that target was indicative that Musonda would still be a Raith Rovers player next term, McGlynn said: “That’s a possibility, yes.”