Following the departure of Allan Johnston Pars fans had been speculating about potential replacements and wondering about the timescale for a new manager to be appointed. However much like the announcement that AJ had left the club, the announcement of a new manager came very much out of the blue.
The Pars announced in a club statement that former player Stevie Crawford would take on the role of head coach, joined by another former Par in Greg Shields in a new look coaching team. The club also announced that Jackie McNamara and his sports consultancy company Consillium sports will assist the club with technical support.
Crawford had joined the club as a coach in the summer and was working as part of the coaching team along with Allan Johnston and Sandy Clark. This will be only his second head coach job after just over a year at East fife between April 2009 and October 2010. Crawford did struggle at East Fife, however that was almost 10 years ago now and since then he has gained a lot of coaching experience working as assistant manager at Falkirk and under Robbie Neilson during a very successful spell at Hearts and the briefly in England at MK Dons. As a former pars player and local lad, Stevie has spent a long time connected with the club and this knowledge of the club as well as his knowledge of the current crop of pars players having spent 6 months working with them is sure to benefit the 45 year old former Scotland cap. A young and hungry coach who is obviously held in high regard by the board at Dunfermline, its definitely a bold appointment but hopefully a well informed one by the Pars board.
Working alongside Crawford will be Greg Shields. Another former Par who made over 200 appearances for Dunfermline and captained them in 2 major cup finals. Like Crawford, Shields will bring a knowledge of the club and the expectations of supporters having spent a considerable chunk of his career to date at East End Park. Greg Shields has spent the last few years coaching in America and Pars fans will be hoping he can bring some fresh ideas and experience to the table to aid Stevie Crawford in the job. A well liked figure amongst the Pars supporters and someone who is clearly keen to join Dunfermline. So much so that chairman Ross McArthur revealed that after phoning Greg he immediately jumped on an over night flight from New York and arrived in Dunfermline on 2 hours of sleep to sign for the Pars. Another young hungry coach with fresh ideas who is clearly very enthusiastic about working at the club, got to be a good thing surely?
Perhaps the most interesting piece of news that came from this announcement, or at least the bit that seemed to garner the most interest from the national press was the involvement of Jackie McNamara. Despite what the major press outlets seem to be insinuating, McNamara wont be on the training ground barking orders every day. Pars chairman Ross McArthur explained in an interview on the official DAFC YouTube channel that Jackie’s role will be through his sports consultancy company who have linked up with the club. This will be to help assist the board with the running of the footballing side of the business which by Mr McArthur’s own admission, the board aren’t experts on. Having someone who once again knows the club well having spent time at East End as a player and also has experience of being successful in this division during his time at Partick Thistle boss can only help when advising the board. In my opinion this seems like another smart move from the Pars and hopefully one that can assist the coaching staff in bringing on field success to the club.
This seems like a very well thought through plan and in fact i think it had been in place for a long time to make the changes to the footballing structure, with or without Allan Johnston at the helm. The board are actively looking for one more coach to join Crawford and Shields and are keen once again to find a young coach. This is definitely a bold strategy by Dunfermline and whilst there seems to be a mix of opinions on the appointments, for me this is a really exciting, fresh, change of direction that was much needed at the club. No matter what you’re opinion is on the board’s decision, there is no denying that these are exciting times for the Pars. Hopefully Crawford, Shields, McNamara and Co can help turn things around for the Pars. Starting at Tannadice this afternoon.