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New Year chat with the Manager

We are now into a new year, so we thought this was a good time to talk to the Manager, Daryl McKenzie, about the season so far and his hopes for the year ahead.

Question: Daryl we are just coming out of the Christmas break and are halfway through the season, what are your thoughts on Tayport's season so far?

Answer: “They are mixed, to be honest. There are some things that I’ve been pleased with and positive about and then there have been quite a lot of things that I have been fairly disappointed with. It has just been a really inconsistent season right from when I came in to where we are now. We have had some promising moments where I have thought we are really onto something here, and then some really frustrating ones where I have thought we haven’t progressed that far and we have had some heavy defeats and a bad run of late which has been really difficult to take as a manager. I think we are probably where we should be in terms of what we had to work with when I came in and the number of players we had to bring in, and players we had to move on. When I took the job at the start of the season I was very honest enough to say that I thought it would be a very difficult season, and I think that’s the way the season has gone so far.

We have been blighted by injuries which I don’t like to bring up but it’s true, we’ve hardly had a settled back four since the fifth game of the season, and we’ve been missing some really key players. Jamie Gill has not been able to play this season and will now miss the rest of this season after having surgery, Jamie Hume broke his foot, Greg McColm was out for a spell with an Achilles injury and Kieran Sturrock missed a month. Key injuries right throughout the team this season that has hit us hard.

So far the season has been a challenging one but we are remaining optimistic about the second half of the season, hopefully with fewer injuries.”

Question: What have been the biggest challenges you have faced in the first part of the season and your first six months in charge?

“The amount of work that has needed to be done. When I came in so close to the start of the season, we just had to get a team on the park and the Committee was very honest with me about that and we did this. Myself and the Committee are realistic and know there is a lot of work in and around the club that still needs to be done.

There are a lot of principles that I want to implement in both the club and in the team’s style of play which is definitely going to take time to do. When I came in, there was so much to do but we had zero planning time, so we were planning one game at a time as well as trying to plan and implement medium to long-term strategies at the club. There has just been so much to do but the process is now underway which is very important.”

Question: The club is currently sitting in 8th place in the league, what would you say to those that feel that this position isn't good enough for a club the size of Tayport?

“There is no doubt the league position is disappointing, but I don’t think our level of performance warrants us to be in 8th position. Certainly not as many points behind some of the top teams, especially when you look at our performances against the top teams, as we’ve pretty much been in every game. Kirriemuir although we lost 4-1 we were in that game right up until 20 minutes into the second half, then a crazy eight-minute spell from us took the game away from us, and other than Downfield at home, nobody has really come and beat us convincingly from the top teams. We’ve had close games against Broughty, North End, and Lochee United, and for me, that’s been the disappointing thing that despite the games being tight we haven’t been able to take any points from these teams.

What I would say is that the league this season is much more competitive than it has been in previous years, but I don’t think eighth position is good enough for Tayport. However, it is important that everyone at the club is realistic and remembers the state we were in a few months ago. At the start of the season, we were talking about not being able to field a team for some games as we had so few players and when I came in three weeks before the league season we only had eight signed players. So we were in a really tricky position and I think that’s important to remember. Despite these difficulties, we have beaten some experienced Junior sides and have put a little run together and I think it is important to remember these positives. But what I know and what the coaching staff and the players know is that finishing in eighth position or lower any more than just once this season is simply not good enough for a club the size of Tayport.”

Question: What's your hope for the rest of this season and then going forward?

“To improve results, improve performances, and get a little bit of consistency in the team selection. This consistency would help develop a style of play and the structures I want to embed. I want to see us climb up the league, whilst also creating and embedding the style of play that I want to bring.

Recruiting new players is really important, January to May is when a lot of your work is done for recruiting new players, and I didn’t have that last season, so it will be a busy time recruiting for next season but having this will help us going forward. We want to bring in players that will help improve the team and that will come in with the right attitude, professionalism, and right ambition that will make us a better team.

We’ve still got one cup competition left and we want to do as well as we can in that. At this level, anyone can beat anyone so I think any of the cup competitions give you the opportunity to hopefully have a good run, so that will be a focus of ours in the second part of the season.”

Question: Despite the challenges what have been the positives you have seen in your first six months in charge?

“The biggest positive is the relationship I’ve built with the committee members at the club, I think everything going on behind the scenes at the club is professional, structured, and well-run. For me, it is so good for this to be in place and to have the full support and commitment of the Committee.

I think I’ve settled in fairly well and I am enjoying my time at the club and I think I’ve built up good relationships with players who were already at the club before I came in. I think the new signings that have come in have done really well, in particular Ethan Samson and Ross McDonald, so that’s been positive for me to see. Hopefully, that will continue as we continue to bring in new players to the club.”

Question: What is your message to the Tayport supporters for 2023?

“It would just be, please keep optimistic about 2023. 2022 was a really hard and challenging year for all involved with the club, but it is a new year and we are looking ahead and building for the future. The club definitely needs stability, hard work, and most importantly that ambition to make us the best team in the area again. But that is not going to be an easy challenge, as we’ve got some well-established clubs in the league as well as some good up-and-coming young teams. But it is my goal and the Committee’s goal to make Tayport the best team in the area again and we’ve started this process, we know this is going to be a massive challenge that will take time but we are optimistic, ambitious, and committed to making this happen.

The supporters have been great with me, I know they are frustrated as they want to win games - and so do I, the coaches, and the players – but so far they have stuck with us and hopefully they will continue to do this in 2023. I hope we will be able to start rewarding that support with more victories and some silverware."

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