Peter Grant believes he can be the man to bring the glory days back to Dunfermline Athletic after setting his sights on the Championship title.
Grant, 55, was named as successor to Stevie Crawford on Friday morning and wasted no time in laying out his lofty aspirations.
Dunfermline, firmly among the top 10 best-supported clubs in the country, have now endured a nine-year exile from the top-flight, even plunging into administration and slipping into League 1 during that period.
However, Grant still recalls his visits to a raucous, intimidating East End Park as a player — turning out more than 400 times for Celtic — and firmly believes they belong at Scotland’s top table.
And while he knows they have no ‘divine right’ to secure top spot next term, that is the target he has set.
“It’s not second place we are looking for. We want to automatically go up,” said Grant definitively. “That is the challenge for us all — and that’s what we will try to achieve.
“No team has a divine right. I have heard it down in England; people talking about big clubs, yet they are in the fourth tier and they are living on memories. I am not one for that, I am one for the future and what we can achieve next. But you have to earn it.
“I love playing under that pressure. Hopefully, my players can use that pressure in the right way and be excited, instead of it being a noose around their necks.”
He added: “Promotion would make me as proud as I possibly could be in my football career. This is my pride and joy now, looking after Dunfermline Athletic Football Club. Hopefully, I can put a team on the football pitch that the supporters can be proud of.”
As well as giving the fans a team to be proud of, Grant — who hopes to keep Greg Shields on the staff as his assistant manager — intends to field a side to thrill them.
The Pars’ playing style was criticised in some quarters during the 28-month tenure of Stevie Crawford, albeit last season did see him equal their highest ever league finish since emerging from administration in 2013.
‘We are in the entertainment business’
Grant, conversely, is renowned for his commitment to attractive, passing football and, while he will not be a slave to his principles, he has a clear idea how he wants his team to play.
“We have to play with a certain style,” continued Grant. “We are in the entertainment business and people want to come through the door and be excited by what they are watching.
“We’ll try to achieve that but the one thing the supporters will absolutely demand is 100 per cent commitment and I’ve got to give that to players, and they need to give it to the supporters.
“I know the style I want to play — fast, flowing, attractive football — but we did that at Alloa and got relegated! So, we also need to defend well as a group. There are different ways you can play and still win games.”
Even in games Alloa lost, specifically a heavy defeat against the Pars in October, the Wasps’ style was impressing all the right people, with Grant revealing how that match was cited by Dunfermline director Thomas Meggle during positive talks.
He laughed: “Thomas was on the phone and talking about the performance we had with Alloa when Dunfermline beat us 4-1 — and I thought it was quite bizarre that he was talking about that game!
“That impressed me more than anything, that he wasn’t going on anything other than how our team tried to play.”
Expanding on his two years at Alloa, which ended with relegation and his resignation earlier this month, Grant added: “I loved every moment with Alloa and I treated it like full-time football. That’s what kept me sane.
“But I had players that would finish their work at 4.30 a.m. and then play for you at 3 p.m. the next day. I’m not sure people appreciate what the part-time players go through.
“The previous season, prior to the pandemic, it was hard to get them out of the dressing after 11 p.m. at night, even though they had been working since six in the morning.
“That was the camaraderie we had. And that was taken away during the pandemic.
“But one thing it did was make me humble; seeing the amount of hours those boys trained, between working shifts, and the commitment they showed.
“It was two difficult seasons and I was proud to be their manager, it was just unfortunate the way it ended and I would love them to still be in the Championship.”
‘This was the only club I spoke to’
Having been liked with a return to Celtic as part of Eddie Howe’s backroom staff — a notion which would have imploded with the collapse of those discussions on Friday — Grant was keen to emphasise that he only had eyes for the Pars.
Grant added: “It’s all about Dunfermline for me. This was the only job I wanted and this was the only club I spoke to.”