Dunfermline Athletic

Pars review of the season 2007/08 part II

Author: Jason Barber Date: Saturday, 3rd May 2008

With Stephen Kenny dismissed after the 1-0 defeat at home to Dundee, Jim McIntyre took over as caretaker manager for the home match against Clyde on 8th December.

Having lost 5 of the previous 6 games, the Pars needed to improve and do so quickly if a second and even more disastrous relegation was to follow.....

With Jim McIntyre in temporary charge only, the press and rumour mills soon started churning out their stories as to who was being lined up to replace Stephen Kenny et all on a permanent basis.

Ironically, Kenny`s replacement at Derry City, John Robertson, had departed the Irish club and was instantly installed as the favourite for the job.

Former Pars captain Ian Ferguson, who had narrowly missed out when Kenny was appointed in November 2006, was another name who cropped up. Press stories saying Ferguson would snap the job up if offered contradicted others who said he had not applied to the club in this instance.

Former Motherwell boss Terry Butcher was another name who became strongly linked to the post, having had his Australian adventure cut short after poor results.

The home game against Clyde was one of two successive one one draws, however a sudden burst of form came just at the right time to pull Dunfermline out of the relegation zone at last, where they would remain safe from thereon in.

Wins over Queen of the South, Morton, Stirling Albion and Livingston made it a much merrier festive season than was looking likely at one stage for Pars fans.

The sequence of wins made the board`s job much easier for them and Jim McIntyre was appointed permanent manager on the 3rd January 2008.

What then followed in the January transfer window was a massive change in personnel within the playing squad, which had been required for some time given the sheer number of first team players on the books.

Fergie was one of the rumours

Roddie McKenzie, injured against Hacken back in August, was released by mutual consent to allow him to continue his recovery and get back to fitness.

Aaron Labonte, signed by Jimmy Calderwood in 2003, had failed to maintain a first team place under five managers and was sent on loan to Irish side Finn Harps until the end of his contract this summer.

Jamie Harris had suffered from long term injury problems after being signed in January 2007. He eventually made first team appearances in 07/08 season and looked to be forming a good understanding at centre half alongside Scott Thomson. However, he was sold for a nominal fee and joined St Patrick`s of Dublin. Bobby Ryan, who made fleeting appearances for The Pars joined him there.

Striker Jim Hamilton also left to sign for SPL side St. Mirren after a mostly disappointing spell for The Pars.

Loan signings Michael McGlinchey and, perhaps more surprisingly Danny Murphy, returned to Celtic and Motherwell respectively.

Phil McGuire, out of favour since early in the season, joined Inverness Caley Thistle on a permanent basis.

Hammy was one in the clear out

It was not all one way traffic in the transfer window, with Stirling`s promising midfielder Steven Bell signing a pre contract agreement to join up with Dunfermline from this summer.

Austin McCann at Notts County did likewise, returning to Scotland after previous spells with Airdrie and Hearts.

Scott Muirhead was rewarded with a two year deal and will be hoping to make a full return to matchdays after a fairly torrid time with injuries this season.

Alex Burke initially joined on loan from St Mirren, and is another to be given a two year deal as part of the squad for next year.

Labonte was farmed out on loan

Promising league form did not continue into the Scottish Cup unfortunately, which was a major blip in a season which had all too often had little to cheer about in the first division.

A fourth round 2-1 defeat at Partick Thistle, after an initial late postponement, came after Scott Wilson had Dunfermline 1-0 up and dominating play.

With league positions being played for, Dunfermline saw out the rest of the league campaign mostly for the better. Three defeats in the last fourteen games saw The Pars end up safely in fifth place, blowing their chances of a fourth spot with a horrendous 3-0 reverse at Morton in the penultimate match.

Other end of season points of note included a Kevin Harper hat trick at Stirling in March, in front of a crowd of just 698 the lowest attendance by far of any game last season.

Further departures were announced in the last few days of the season. Stevie Crawford was not offered a new deal, despite his tireless efforts up front as the season drew to a close. His 84 goals from his two spells at the club were an excellent return and everyone wishes him all the best.

Mark Burchill finished top scorer, aided by a double in his last game against Queen of the South. Iain Williamson scored his first goal for the club in the same game, hopefully heralding the start of a new era with youngsters staking a more regular claim in the starting line up.

Scott Thomson also scored in the game and has signed a one year deal on "vastly reduced" wages according to McIntyre, who has seen Nipper restore some calm and balance to a defence which was so leaky earlier in the season.

Tam McManus was released from his contract to sign for Colorado Rapids in the MSL, with all the promise shown at the end of the SPL season failing to shine this year in the first division.

With Darren Young the only remaining player to either sign on the dotted line, or leave for pastures new, there will certainly be a new look to the playing squad next season.

2007/08 at least ended on a high note, perhaps giving just a glimpse of what next season has to offer. Jim McIntyre`s results have been a vast improvement on the early part of the season, and whilst no wins were recorded against the top three in the table, Dunfermline managed to perform just short of the title winner`s Hamilton since Macca took over.

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