Last season’s position – 5th
This season’s prediction – 4th
Best signing of the Summer so far – Declan McManus
The centre forward had been on the manager’s radar for quite some time. In the 2014/15 League One season, he was the outstanding player in the division while on loan at Greenock Morton. And quite rightly so with 20 goals in 32 league games for the then 19-year-old as he more than helped the Ton to the title. That purple streak is the outlier rather than the norm. Outside of that campaign, he has only scored another 11 times in 88 divisional matches.
Although, if he can be an upgrade on Michael Moffat and compliment Nicky Clark in a way that gets the best out of them, then he can be forgiven if he does not find the net at an elite level for a Championship striker.
Key man – Kallum Higginbotham
Callum Morris, Lee Ashcroft, and Higginbotham are the only players in the squad to play multiple seasons in the top flight of Scotland. Previously went Morris from the Pars to Dundee United and Ashcroft graduated from the Kilmarnock youth ranks while Higginbotham played for Killie, Partick Thistle, and Motherwell (loan).
Ashcroft and Morris have struck up a good (not great, yet) partnership. However, it is the ability of Higginbotham that will be key to how the Pars perform. Last season he was the second top scorer and top assist maker at the club. If his output is similar while others step up their game then Dunfermline should improve on their league position.
The manager – Allan Johnston
Johnston’s tenure at Kilmarnock was a disaster. Yet, he went on to revitalise his managerial career at East End Park, starting with a comprehensive title win in the third tier then comfortably keeping Athletic in the Championship last season. The majority of his signings have been a success – even if just a minor one – and with the failures, you could see the reasoning behind the acquisitions. He is strict in his formation. More often than not, it is a 4-4-2. One criticism is the lack of substitutes he makes when the game is still in the balance.
In many ways, it is playoffs or bust for Johnston. Last season, Dunfermline got off to a poor start which ended any hopes of attaining fourth. Greenock Morton will likely take a step back and Inverness Caledonian Thistle are an unknown quantity. The consensus is that St Mirren and the Pars will be battling out for who will finish third and fourth with United likely to win the title, and Falkirk doing just enough to stave off the competition for second.
If Johnston fails to reach at least fourth, there will be an interesting discussion to be had with his contract up at the end of the season and this undoubtedly being his squad of players.
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