In yet another example of how money has changed the beautiful game, Dunfermline Athletic offer hope to clubs facing uncertain times due to financial problems. Back in 2013, the Pars faced up to administration and were weeks away from winding up calling to an end almost 130 years of history and tradition. But like many struggling clubs in Scotland’s various leagues, the solution came in the form of fan ownership with a group of fans known as Pars United Limited rescuing their club from disaster. Now back on an even financial footing, Dunfermline can now focus on getting back on track and climbing the divisions once more. It’s a long road ahead but one that the Pars and their fans are ready to take on. In the latest of our club profiles, we look at the challenge that lies ahead and the obstacles that Dunfermline need to overcome to get back on that road to success.
Ground: East End Park, Dunfermline, Scotland
Owners: Pars United Limited (fan community)
Manager: John Potter
Scottish FA Cup Winners (2) – 1961,1968
Scottish First Division Champions (3) – 1989, 1996, 2011
Scottish Second Division Champions (2) – 1926, 1986
2014-15 Current Standing: Scottish League One, 6th (as of 11th March 2015)
2013-14 Final Standing: Scottish League One, 2nd
2012-13 Final Standing: Scottish Championship, 9th (relegated)
2011-12 Final Standing: Scottish Premier League, 12th (relegated)
2010-11 Final Standing: Scottish Championship, 1st (promoted)
Typical Starting Eleven
Normal Starting Formation: 4-4-2
|No||Position||Player Name||Age||Value (GBP)|
|–||RM||Josh Falkingham (c)||24||–|
Signed by Leeds United aged 8, Falkingham progressed through the youth system for the next 11 years but was released having never broken into the first team. St Johnstone picked him up on a short-term contract before spending 2 years at Arbroath. He had developed into a versatile playmaking midfielder (preferred wide on the right) with accurate passing, determination and strong in the tackle. Newly appointed Dunfermline manager Jim Jefferies saw his potential and brought Falkingham in. He was immediately installed as the team vice-captain, but before the season was out he would be handed the captain’s armband and has not looked back since.
Star Player History
- The Dunfermline squad has a really good mix of young and old players.
- The coaching team are all experienced professionals and can help with youth development, notably former Rangers and Scotland internationals Neil McCann and Andy Goram.
- Defensively the team has been fairly solid having conceded 33 goals in 28 games (the lowest goals against in league is 30).
- The team have no major attacking threat. In December 2014, the manager opted not to extend the contract of 21 year-old Gozie Ugwu who had scored 7 goals in 14 league games (and is still comfortably the teams top goalscorer for this season). He chose to use the salary and living expenses money from Ugwu to invest in new players for the club, none of who have improved the team’s league standing (they have fallen from 4th to 6th).
- The midfield lack width as even the current wide players (Hopkirk and Falkingham prefer playing centrally).
- From January 1st 2015, Dunfermline have played 11 games but have never had the same starting eleven. On average the manager has made 2.6 unforced changes to the team for each game.
- Since 2012 Dunfermline have been plagued with financial difficulties and transfer sanctions. They have paid almost ₤0 in transfer fees since the 2011/2012 season, but have also not recouped any fees on departing players in the same timeframe.
The Dunfermline squad consists largely of players who prefer to play through the middle and so should have a formation that takes advantage of this rather than forcing players into positions. I can see them do well by playing a 3-5-1-1 that would utilize their defensive and midfield strengths in the centre with young pacey wing backs providing width when required. The single striker would need Moffat to hold up the ball for Hopkirk playing in the hole and Falkingham providing attacking support from deep.
- Team Selection
In terms of personnel, young Ryan Williamson has the best win/loss percentage in the club and should come in for Ross Millen (who would be very handy coming on from the bench). The misfiring attack (Barrowman in this case) should be replaced by an additional centre back in Urquhart to allow for the wingbacks to push forward. Finally, the other key change I would make is to establish a preferred starting 11 and not make as many unforced changes to the starting eleven. With a constantly changing team the players (especially given the young age of most of them) don’t get a chance to learn how to play intuitively with each other and could explain why Dunfermline’s results have been so erratic since the start of the year.
Proposed New Starting Eleven
Starting Formation: 3-5-1-1
|No||Position||Player Name||Age||Value (GBP)|
|–||CM||Josh Falkingham (c)||24||–|
Post by Kenny C, BOTN writer based in Asia