Sunday Herald Artical: Nov 14 1999Author: Douglas Scott Date: Monday, 15th Nov 1999
Failure is not an option for new man in Dunfermline hot seat. Dunfermline are closing in on a new manager to replace the recently departed Dick Campbell. Simon Pia looks at the options available to the East End Park club.
Whether or not the white smoke will emanate from the chimney at East End Park tomorrow, it will have been a long weekend for Dunferm line Athletic.
As chairman John Yorkston was sifting through over 20 applications before knocking it down to a short list of five, the small matter of the side-show in Glasgow yesterday had not made the interview process any easier, while an important league fixture against Livingston today could further delay matters.
Still no clear candidate has emerged as the "people's choice". Usually it narrows down quite quickly to one or two contenders, just as it did the last time Dunfermline brought in a manager. Then it was between Murdo MacLeod and Bert Paton. When Mac Leod opted for Dumbarton there was only one choice.
A club shareholder said on Friday: "It has been wide open. However, there are two opposing factors at play. There is a strong feeling among the fans and traditionalists in the club that it should be someone with a Dunfermline identity. In the recent past, managers such as Pat Stanton, Tom Forsyth, Jocky Scott, and Iain Munro, none of whom had that connection, were all seen to have failed.
"But then one director said what was needed is a complete change. This may be a reaction to the failure of Dick [Campbell] after Bert [Paton] stepped down, but it also mirrors the new thinking on the board."
Whoever it is, the remit is clear: immediate promotion. Yorkston may have taken some stick from pundits on Radio Scotland last weekend for stating that whoever was selected will have failed if this is not achieved, but he was not out of synch with the fans.
The pressure on Campbell was evident from Yorkston's comment shortly after his resignation when he said: "I expected a five-point cushion at this time of the season, not a deficit with other clubs at our heels."
He went on to outline the qualities he was seeking in a new manager: "I want one with a proven track record in this country. We need a man who knows the Scottish scene, what is available player-wise and who will be able to fit straight in."
This would seem to have ruled out a foreign or English coach, yet Bobby Gould was still in the reckoning at the end of the week. With Jimmy Nicholl edging further into the frame as the week went on, speculation arose over a partnership with the former Wales, Coventry and Wimbledon manager. "Jimmy was sickened by management after Raith and Millwall," one club source said "and is happier coach-ing. This could be an ideal scenario, with Gould as general manager."
Meanwhile, the usual suspects - members of the "Largs mafia" - were rounded up by the media with the two Tommys, McLean and Burns, in the front line. Burns is known to be keen to get the job, but the possibility that he would see success at Dun fermline as a stepping stone to greater things is a concern. Nor has his record at Reading helped.
McLean is another one keen to get back on the managerial merry-go-round, but his star has been fading since he walked out of Fir Park for Hearts five years ago and, although it was Fife rivals Raith he later left in the lurch for his ill-fated spell at Tannadice, it did nothing to improve his standing in Fife.
Then there is Alex Totten, a man who knows the First Division as well as anyone. Frustrated in recent years at producing a decent team, but with the prospect of the SPL ever distant as long as the club's stadium problem is unresolved, the lure of redeveloped East End Park could tear him away from a recently-signed three-year contract. His pedigree with the Pars as a player would also stand him in good stead.
The young Turks seem to suffer from the status of the clubs they are at. Whether Dunfermline would be prepared to gamble on Ian McCall, arguably an over-achiever with the resources he has - or hasn't had - at Clyde bank, it became increasingly unlikely as the week went on, as did the prospect of taking a chance on Craig Levein, who is gaining plaudits at Cowden beath.
There is, though, the contradiction of opting for a safe pair of hands and not being prepared to gamble when the stakes are high. Another candidate from left field being touted was former Aston Villa player Allan Evans who started off with his home-town club. Although he is assistant to Brian Little at Stoke, he could be lured back.
Two managers doing well, but again with long odds, are Neale Cooper at Ross County and John McCormack of Queen's Park. Both had their appeal, Cooper as a young manager on the make while McCormack has Premier and First Division experience.
However the fans want a "name" and the board are mindful of this. Yorkston is known as a "true fan", as is the "silent hand" steering the rudder, Gavin Masterton, number two at the Bank of Scotland.
The bank's chief operating officer is a lifelong fan and, as a director, he was instrumental in bringing in Yorkston, a successful businessman with experience in local youth football.
"Gavin Masterton is behind what is going on at the club with the new board and stadium redevelopment," said the club insider. "He invited on new directors, Edinburgh lawyers Frank Mc Connell and W B Robert son, as well as the new chairman in the close season. Graham Thomson, the local businessman who has invested a six-figure sum was another.
"Dunfermline may have an overdraft of around £3.5m, but are on a better financial footing than Raith who almost went to the wall over a £1m overdraft. There are plans for a hotel and office development to generate funds, and the new company develop-ing low-cost housing with profits going to the club. This is all geared to SPL status and another season in the First would badly affect these plans."
Whoever gets the job will have it spelled out to him that he has to start delivering from day one.