Saturday's visit to Dumfries has now become a pivotal game in Dunfermline's fading season. The Pars' poor run of results (no wins against any team outwith the bottom 3 since October) and the consistent form of the teams around us in the table has seen us drop out of the promotion play-off places and realistically have only fourth place as a target. Morton have lost just once in their past six League games; Livingston have been defeated once in their last nine games; Falkirk have picked up 15 points out of a possible 21. In contrast, we have 2 points from our last 4 games. This weekend's game against Queen of the South sees us play an opponent who destroyed us 5-2 at home in our last meeting - a game that should have seen Allan Johnston fired after a shambolic performance and a series of mid-game switches in formation and players being used out of position. As Pars fans, we all fundamentally want any Dunfermline manager to succeed. In the same way, keeping blind faith with a failing manager should not be acceptable.
Allan Johnston made 5 signings in the January transfer window and although the new midfield performed well in our last game, victories are still not being achieved. A dozen games remain in this season's League calendar and another defeat, even with almost a third of the season's fixtures still to be completed, would render the remainder of the season a hard slog to even finish above Falkirk, who at one point were well behind us and being ridiculed.
A greater sense of adventure is required, something lacking in the final stages of the game at Livi, who had been reduced to ten men and had given up attacking, happy with a point. Yet we did not put on an extra attacker, and also did not take up the option of playing centre half Jean Yves M'Voto up front to put additional pressure on the home team's defence in the last 15 minutes or so. Timidness and lack of risk taking are the hallmarks of a team, or a manager, who lack conviction and who are, essentially, fearful. Yet there is nothing to fear in this division.
I have maintained all season that even leaders St Mirren are nothing more than a very well-organised side, very well managed, and with one talisman (Lewis Morgan) plus Stephen McGinn in midfield as their outstanding players. Dundee United are a poor lot, who we can still never win against, but who are in turmoil in the boardroom and who are yet to find a manager who can even establish a level of organisation in their team in the same way that Jack Ross has done with St Mirren.
As I said in this column 2 days ago, there is no divine right to win. Arrogance is often counter-productive but we have, instead, capitulated far too often against full time opponents - we have not won away from home against a full time team all season. The last time we achieved that was the final game of last season - away to Queen of the South. A repeat of that is essential on Saturday, and it starts from the dugout. Let's take the game to them and prove, for once, that we really are "the better team", as Allan Johnston regularly claims in his post-match interviews following another draw or defeat to an opposing team.