The period of 2 weeks between games is now half way over: an ideal chance to press reset on a season that has spiralled into mediocrity, after such a promising start in the Betfred Cup and the opening League game. In the past few days, the club have advertised their half-season ticket deal, the very definition of a 'hard sell' given that we have played 7 home games in the Championship, scoring 2 goals, winning just one match. Lately there has been a mixture of anger and apathy in the EEP stands - some fans leaving early, others telling manager Allan Johnston where they think he should ''get to''.
In an interview in this week's Dunfermline Press, chairman Ross McArthur admitted that the home form in particular has not been good enough this season, but also said that there is a need to (his words) look at the ''bigger picture'' and the initiatives that the manager has implemented in and around the club's structure, including video analysis, sports science and psychology. He also said that there could be periods in a season, or a season, where things don't go the way we hope. In an era of managers being fired after a handful of poor results, the Dunfermline board have resolutely stood by their man, which to some might seem admirable; to others, a case of blind faith.
Progressive, creative ideas are to be welcomed but in a results business, they must be backed up with positive outcomes. There is no point creating the most innovative tv advert if your product's sales don't spike in the aftermath. Similarly, the value of the manager's initiatives can only be properly assessed where it matters: on the pitch. So far, there are few tangible signs that lessons are being learned, and visible improvements being made.
Allan Johnston cannot be held accountable for Andy Ryan missing an open goal, or Lee Robinson letting a speculative shot pass through his hands, costing the team a victory. Individual errors are costly but not the responsibility of the manager, unless they occur regularly and no action is taken to at least try to remedy the problem. There are other elements of a team's performances over a period of time that are, however, very much part of the manager's remit to address and correct; we are currently in one of those all-too-regular dips that have characterised Allan Johnston's time in charge. While we often seemingly recover, had we not experienced the consequences of a dire run of results to begin with, we would have achieved much more overall - inevitably - just as unfancied Livingston did last season in the Championship.
The manager has the backing of his board but if results - especially at home - do not improve, interest and attendances may well decline in a fan base that is desperate for signs of progress. Changing the manager might be a risk, but at some point there has to be an acceptance that by refusing to do so, we may never give ourselves the chance to move forward instead of merely treading water.