Craig’s Column: Looking forward to learning from new gaffer

Raith Rovers' head of youth development, Craig Easton, writes a fortnightly column for the Fife Free Press.
Raith Rovers' head of youth development, Craig Easton, writes a fortnightly column for the Fife Free Press.

Nothing surprises me in football, but last week, seeing Gary and Darren leave was a difficult time for everyone at the club.

They invested so much time and effort into making everything we did more professional on a day to day basis in order to try and get the best out of the players. As people they were incredibly well-liked by everyone and I’ve learned a lot working with them over the last seven months.

I’ve been at a number of clubs where managers have departed during the season and it’s always accompanied by a mixture of emotions. Some players feel responsible, and others hope for a new lease of life if they’ve been out of favour under the previous regime. In this case, I think there’s certainly more of the former and that shows how highly the players thought of Gary and Jacko.

However, sometimes things have to change and it’s up to us to deal with them as best we can. There’s often a strange gap in the transition period, when players and staff don’t know who’s going to come in. From my experience as a player, the best thing to do is to get back on the football field, and that’s exactly what we did last Thursday and Friday.

While holding the fort my message to them was simply to get their heads back on it. You can be disappointed, but you have to be ready for when the new manager comes in.

The experienced players in the squad, along with the backroom staff, reinforced that feeling and were a great help in the 72 hours before John was appointed.

It happened sooner than we maybe expected, but credit to the board for getting the new gaffer in quickly and we’re all very excited to be working with someone like John Hughes. He’s come in to the club with lots of energy, a fierce determination and is totally focused on getting us ready for the weekend. Personally, as a coach, it’s another part of my education – a new manager with new ideas to learn from.

As far as I’m concerned, the Development Squad needs to follow what the first team does so it’s a case of looking at what they’re doing and replicating it so we get that consistency throughout the club. That means if any of my lads are called up, they’ll understand exactly what’s expected of them.

People were asking if I was interested in the job, but it came too early for me. I’ve only held this position for six months and I’ve still got a lot to do in terms of where I want to take the Development Squad.

Management is definitely something I want to do – I make no bones about that – but it’s not the right time. I’m still learning. You can take training, but there’s other parts to it that I need more experience in.

I’m really happy in my role and I want to see some of these young players get close to the first team.

Between now and the end of the season is a really important time for the development squad because we’ll be up to our full complement come the summer, then we’ll go on from there.

We deserved the three points in our 1-0 victory over Forfar on Tuesday evening, playing some nice football and defending well as a team. There were a lot of good performances and it was nice to see Joel Coustrain back on the pitch and getting 90 minutes under his belt. There was also a decent turn out to support the boys. If you contribute to the fund, then come along and see what we’re doing with your money and hopefully you’ll enjoy watching a decent game of football.

Craig Easton