After 3 seasons at East End Park, the end of Michael Paton's time as a Pars player was confirmed when he announced on Twitter today that he would be leaving the club when his contract expires at the end of this month. Paton joined Dunfermline in June 2015, one of several players who had played for Allan Johnston at previous clubs who would then reunite with the manager at Dunfermline. The manager and player had worked together with great success at Queen of the South, Paton moving to the Dumfries club during their League 1 title winning season of 2012/13, managed by Allan Johnston. Paton's first season with the Pars (2015/16) would see a repeat of that achievement, with Dunfermline winning League 1 in style and Paton contributing with numerous assists in his 41 appearances in all competitions. Operating on the right wing, he soon proved himself to be a very good technical player, not the type of winger who would burst past a fullback with pace but capable of very accurate passing and crossing and with a great first touch, rarely giving away possession.
A hernia operation in the summer of 2016 meant that Paton did not make his first appearance of the season until August, missing all of the team's pre-season friendlies and the first 4 competitive games. Kallum Higginbotham was signed, taking Paton's right wing position in many games, but after recovering from the operation, Paton was a regular in the matchday squad, always ready when required, making 22 appearances in total that season. His stay at Dunfermline was extended by a further year last summer and during the early weeks of 2017/18, he was deployed in central midfield, shifting from his more familiar right wing role. His excellent ball control and precise passing saw him contribute to an impressive start to the season for the team, including the League Cup game at Tynecastle when he had a very good game in the middle of the park.
Paton's appearances in the second half of the season were limited, with a combination of a niggling injury and the form of the midfielders recruited during the January transfer window leaving him with, at best, a place on the bench.
In total, he made 68 starts for Dunfermline, plus 14 sub appearances, scoring 7 goals but providing many more assists. I am certain that he will remain in the Championship with his next club, as he has much to offer and in addition to his ability, is a model professional and a very nice guy - a good player and a good person to have in a dressing room, an asset to any manager looking for a ball-playing right sided midfielder at this level.