Sunday 21st October 2018
HE’S just been through one of the more surreal periods of nearly 40 years in Scottish football, as player and manager.
When the closest he’s been to the touchline is sitting in the commentary box with a microphone at his mouth.
No tactics board to use, no team talks to give, no elation or frustration at victory or defeat for his team.
It has been years since Jim Duffy has experienced anything like it. From February 2011 to April 2018 he was continuously managing, firstly with Clyde and then with Morton.
Not that that’s all there is to his CV. Dundee (twice), Falkirk, Hibernian and Brechin City have all benefited from his experience as a manager.
Experience he has been putting in the bank since turning professional as a player with Celtic in 1979.
Now Dumbarton are also set to benefit from it.
On a quiet, drizzly Sunday afternoon at the C&G Systems Stadium, there are fewer people there than players in a matchday squad.
One of them, though, is the one who matters.
Jim’s is the name Dumbarton have been waiting to announce for the past 13 days since Stevie Aitken left the club.
Its new manager.
Speaking EXCLUSIVELY to www.dumbartonfootballclub.com, Jim said: “First and foremost, I’m delighted.
“It’s a club I feel has always been very well organised, on and off the pitch, and has been very welcoming when I’ve come here in the past few years.
“I’m thrilled to be the new manager.
“You always want to be involved in the technical area, or dugout as it used to be known, and experience the adrenalin and thrill of it all on a Saturday.
“But I’ve been fortunate enough (recently), doing some work in the media and getting to a range of games.
“You can also go and see reserves and under-20 games, and that gives you a different look at it. You get a different approach without the concern and pressure of having to win matches for your own team.
“I’ve always been a great admirer of Stevie Aitken. He’s a terrific young manager, but like any other, it hasn’t gone for him for one reason or another.
“I know there have been significant injuries here and that’s played a part, but we now have to concentrate on the remaining three quarters of the season.
“It’s a challenge I’m looking forward to and hopefully we can improve the fortunes of the team.”
Jim’s next remit will be to meet his new charges for their first training session together on Tuesday ahead of Saturday’s home fixture against East Fife.
But it won’t be his first with some players – including one who he managed to the PFA Scotland’s League One player of the year award in 2015.
Jim continued: “Ross Forbes was a terrific player for me at Morton, and when I left Cappielow, he left shortly afterwards.
“I don’t think he’s quite clicked as he can play at Dumbarton, so hopefully we can get the best out of him. If we can do that, he’s an outstanding player.
“I’ve seen Dumbarton a number of times this season for the radio, so I have a fair idea of the quality of players available.
“The first thing we need to do is accept responsibility for where we are we are in the league and look to try and improve on that.
“People say that this team or that team looks good on paper, but games aren’t played on paper, and we now have to focus on playing East Fife on Saturday.
“I don’t know what training has been like for the players before, but I will just be myself. There are players I’ve worked with before but that makes no difference. I’ll come here with a fresh approach. I’ve got things I’m looking to do.
“The intensity of training has to be high but I don’t think I’m different to any other manager in that respect.”
Although his career has taken him to the higher levels of the game, including spells as coach at Chelsea, Portsmouth and Norwich City, Jim has experienced Scotland’s third tier before.
In fact, he’s not just experienced it, he’s excelled in it.
As well as managing Morton to the title in 2015, he reached the play-offs twice with Brechin City, where he succeeded now Northern Ireland manager Michael O’Neill in 2009.
He said: “With what I have done in this division before, I have an idea of what is required at this level, but that doesn’t guarantee anything.
“The players have to ensure they play at their best, and if we can get the balance and structure of the team right, then we have good set of players who, if they gel, we can start to improve.
“It is too early to say what we hope to achieve. I am just looking for the team to play their best and as a team, to help each other, work hard for each other, and try to turn results around.
“There has not been enough consistency and that can be impacted by injuries, but we put all that aside now. We have to ensure we improve considerably over the next three quarters of the season.
“I am looking forward to facing East Fife on Saturday. They will be a challenge. They have won their last eight, scored a lot of goals, and have a good combination of scoring many and not losing many.
“They will be full of confidence and those are always dangerous teams. It’s something that’s seeped away with our team, we’ve lost a bit of confidence, but the way to bring it back is to get wins under your belt.”
But whatever has gone in the past, Jim’s unveiling as Dumbarton manager is a new start.
He said: “It’s for other people to look back. I’m just looking forward to the new challenge, not at the past.
“Consistency is the biggest thing when it comes to success in this league. It might be stating the obvious but other teams like Arbroath and East Fife are where they are because of their consistency.
“Sometimes you don’t always play well, but if you have the organisation and dig out a result, you keep yourself moving.”
And as well as the players, Jim had some words for other important people when it comes to moving forward at Dumbarton.
He added: “Fans are always vitally important.
“If players are lacking confidence, the encouragement of fans helps them. If you relax and play to the level you can, you can express yourself more and take a bit more risk in the final third.
“It’s vital that the fans feel it and the players feel it. If fans transmit frustration to the players, they can rush things and make mistakes.
“Everybody has to work together, with the fans supporting the players, and if there’s a good balance there, it can go well.”