Locke happy with positive start to Raith career

Raith manager Gary Locke and Dunfermline boss Allan Johnston pictured together before kick off on Saturday.  Picture Ian Rutherford
Raith manager Gary Locke and Dunfermline boss Allan Johnston pictured together before kick off on Saturday. Picture Ian Rutherford

Gary Locke believes he is finally getting the chance to prove himself as a manager after making a positive start to his career at Raith Rovers.

This weekend’s international break gave the 41-year-old a chance to reflect on the opening months of his tenure where he has guided the club to third place in the Championship after 12 games.

After enduring difficult spells in charge of Hearts and Kilmarnock, eyebrows were raised when the Raith board appointed him in July but Locke is so far proving the doubters wrong.

“I always believe in everything I do as a manager,” he told the Press.

“I had a knock at Kilmarnock and you reflect on things when it doesn’t go so well and make sure you don’t make the same mistakes again.

“I feel as if I’ve certainly done that here.

“We’ve got a great squad of boys and the great thing is that I’m getting to manage the football side of the club - that’s what I’m paid to do and that’s what I want to do.

“I’m delighted about that because now I can hopefully show people that I’m a decent manager and that we’ve got a decent squad of players here.

“It’s not about me - it’s about the boys. If you’ve got a good group that does well for you, everybody will be saying you’re a great manager - but for me it’s all about the players.”

After dealing with off-field issues at his previous clubs, Locke faced a different challenge at Stark’s Park – building on the success of predeccesor Ray McKinnon – which he has so far managed to accomplish after quickly developing a rapport with his players, and the fans.

“I’ve really enjoyed it – obviously you enjoy it when you’re winning!” he said.

“We’re third in the league at the minute, but we’ve got a million miles to go.

“The league is very tight – Dunfermline are second bottom on nine points, but if they get a couple of wins they won’t be far away from us.

“It’s a great club with great people behind the scenes. The only way we’re going to be successful is with everyone pulling in the same direction, and I certainly feel as if we’ve got that here.”

Managers are judged on results and signings and Locke has made shrewd additions with the likes of Kevin McHattie, Jean-Yves M’voto and Declan McManus playing key roles in the first team.

“That’s what the fans judge you on, and they are the most important people at the club,” he said. “They’re still going to be here when myself and Darren aren’t - they are the people wo are with the club through thick and thin.

“We were at the Hall of Fame dinner this week, and met a few of them – and they seem to be reasonably pleased with the way things are going.

“I’m well aware you’re never going to keep everybody happy. That’s just the nature of being a football manager – you’re there to be shot at.

“But I’m glad that the boys who I’ve brought in are doing well. There’s one or two I’ve brought in and we’ve still to see the best of them - but that happens at every club and hopefully they will come good in the second half of the season.

“But it’s also about the boys who were here before I came in - guys like Callachan, Benedictus, Davidson, Cuthbert - they’ve all been great.

“That was one of things before I took the job - I found out a lot about Raith Rovers and the general feedback I had was that they were a really good group of players and great professionals and I’ve certainly found that since I came in.”

Locke was satisfied with a Fife derby point at East End Park on Saturday but admitted that the performance could have been better.

While delighted with his team’s defending to earn a clean sheet, Locke admitted that he would have hoped for more quality on the ball.

“I thought Dunfermline were better first half, we came into it second half, but over the piece there wasn’t a lot of quality in the game,” he said.

“We didn’t show the quality that I know we’ve got in the first half but there’s a lot of reasons why that happens in a derby game.

“When you’ve not got as much time on the ball, people tend to go back to front, which is what we did.

“At half-time we told them to show more composure on the ball, and I felt we did that better, but it was still a topsy-turvy game.

“The good thing from our point of view is we’ve gone down to our biggest rivals and come away with a pointo so you can’t be too upset about that.

“We’ve had a couple of games there where we’ve not been at our best but we’ve picked up four points out of six so we’re not going to complain about it.

“We’ve been defending really well - boys are putting their body on the line to stop the ball going in our net and that’s what’s going to be needed throughout the whole season.”

Rovers midfielder Scott Robertson returned from long-term injury to feature for the Under 20s in a 6-1 victory over Alloa U20s at Stark’s Park on Tuesday night. Yaw Osei grabbed a hat-trick with Lewis Vaughan (2) and Joel Coustrain also on the scoresheet.