New Cowdenbeath gaffer Billy Brown has admitted that expectations need to be realistic at Central Park this season after a turbulent few years on and off the park for the Fife club.
Brown was brought in initially to be the Assistant Manager to Gary Locke for a short spell at the end of last season.
“We were very happy with how it went. With the players that we had, we didn’t think they should have been in the position they were; maybe they were slightly young, lightweight and also maybe slightly naive but they certainly weren’t any worse than every other team in the league. If they replicated the results they got in the last quarter in the other three quarters and they could have been up the right end challenging. The players responded to what we asked of them and, yes, we were only a penalty miss away from being relegated but ultimately we succeeded in what we set out to achieve.”
Brown had been out of the managerial game for 5 years after leaving East Fife but has now taken over the Blue Brazil.
“The reason I joined initially was to help out Gary and to get my teeth back into the game. I wanted a challenge again and it certainly was a challenge. I enjoyed being back in the dugout, it was something I had been used to and I had missed it. We were looking to do something good this season and now I have taken over I am still hoping to achieve that. I have only been working with the players for 3 or 4 sessions plus a closed-doors game as well as Saturday’s match versus Buckie so I haven’t had long to get much things across to the guys. It was Gary who had taken pre-season and I was away on holiday; by the time I got back, we played Queen of the South and then Gary left for his new role at Hearts and I only took over on the Tuesday. I have only been in the job for around 2 weeks now but they are a good bunch of boys. I am still looking to strengthen the squad; 2, 3, possibly even 4 players. We need to be patient and try get what we want to improve us as a squad. We are needing experience and physicality about the team: we are a wee bit lightweight. Getting these types of player isn’t easy and I have got another few weeks yet until the league starts – my whole focus is on Elgin, to be honest. The League Cup is great but we are never going to win it. My target is to have the whole squad in place for the first league game of the season but there isn’t many good available players going around at the moment that we can bring in on a free transfer, so, we are having to be patient and deal with the situation the best we can.”
Speaking about the League Two campaign, Brown said:
“What I seen of the league, last season, I don’t feel there was much between any of the sides in the division. It is about on the day, consistency and confidence. I am sure the league will be as competitive as it was last season and teams can probably go up and down the table every week like a yo-yo. Forfar and Arbroath got promoted last season because they were consistent, they got results when they should and that is what it takes to get out of this league. We lost 12 players at the end of last season – with loans and such like departing – and it isn’t easy to replace that number but I am trying my best. Every manager in this league wants to aim high and at least make the play-offs but we haver got to be realistic here – we are coming from a very low position but if you phone me back in November, I will be able to say with mote assurance how things might go as it depends how we have started the league, who we have signed…I am very optimistic about the whole thing, I am approaching it in a positive manner and we have got to strive to do as well as we can possibly do.”
Before the league campaign kicks off, Brown and his side have Group C of the BetFred Cup to navigate first.
“I think it is very, very, unfair for part-time clubs. To start the season on the 15th of July – when these guys are still on holiday – as well as being unable to play trialists, it makes it so much harder. We are scraping about trying to get boys available as other lads are away on holiday and things like that. The competition certainly begins far too early and trialists should be allowed to be played like what used to happen. On the match side of things, it is a tough draw and you could be on the end of a few beatings but we would just need to take that on the chin if it did occur. That isn’t the level Cowdenbeath are at just now: one thing it will do for us, playing our last three games against full-time sides, is fitness.”
With Cowden having a midweek break, they have only played one match – a 4-2 win at home to Buckie last Saturday – heading into today’s match with Dundee United at Tannadice.
“I thought we did OK, we created a few chances in the second half after conceding a goal after 2 or 3 minutes. We fought hard and I felt we deserved to win in the end. Buckie just go tpipped by East Kilbride for the play-off place; they weren’t far away after winning the Highland League so I am happy to get the three points. It was good to have this week free to train as it has been difficult so far – it worked out well for us in that regard. We got two good training sessions ahead of Sunday and I am happy with our preparation ahead of today’s match. It is going to be a difficult game: they are a full-time club with Premiership players. In saying that, we know how we are going to play up there and how we aim to go about it. Football is one of those sports where it depends what happens on the day – anything can happen and we know we have to raise our game to stand a chance but I fully believe we are capable of that. We have to be realistic – a betting man would put all of his money on Dundee United, but that puts all the pressure on them. There is no pressure on us so we will give it our best shot.”
A win would see the League Two side go level on points with United in Group C.
“The players will be motivated. There isn’t many chances for sides at our level to play the calibre of team such as Dundee United on a regular bass. We have to be optimistic as well as realistic – we are going up there to be organised and hopefully that is enough to allow us to get a result that is good. When you haven’t got a lot of players, though, it is difficult – we have a young lad, Jack Whittaker, that we signed from Kilmarnock, and he got a broken foot on Saturday so we can’t afford too many more injuries, to be honest, especially with Wednesday’s game at home to Dundee and then Raith away inside 6 days of each other. It is a problem because it is still very early for us as we haven’t got a lot of players at the moment, but, I just need to play the arm I am dealt. We are going up to Tannadice with nothing to lose; we are going to try win the game and there is a certain way we have to go about that but if I can make the Cowdenbeath supporters happy when they are leaving then it’ll make me happy. If we can get there in good numbers and keep the encouragement going from the stand then you never know what can happen.”