BY ALAN TEMPLE – @CCP_Sport
East Fife defender Scott Mercer insists Gary Naysmith and Barry Ferguson must be commended for cutting their teeth in League Two.
But he reckons there is only one winner in the battle of the former Scotland stars.
The Fifers travel to Fergie’s Clyde this afternoon in a crucial clash in the race for the playoffs, with just three points separating the sides.
Mercer, a summer arrival from Dunfermline, is determined to ensure Naysmith claims the bragging rights after heaping praise on the work ethic and professionalism of the Bayview boss.
The 20-year-old full-back told Capital City Press: “The gaffer gives you so much confidence to perform and improve.
“He has played in my position at such a high level and knows when I should press, where I should be and he passes on all that knowledge from an amazing career. I couldn’t have a better mentor.
“It will be massive seeing the gaffer go up against Barry Ferguson in the dugout – I know who I would want in my corner! Gary Naysmith is the best manager I’ve ever played under. His knowledge and man management is excellent.
“But they should both get plenty of credit for working at this level after brilliant careers at club and international level. Just like when you are a player, sometimes you need to start at a lower level to prove yourself, and they honest enough to do that.”
While East Fife’s prerogative is to move into the top four this afternoon, Mercer insists the club are targeting the title – after claiming Naysmith has assembled the best squad in the division.
He continued: “To be honest, we are looking at the top of the league more than the playoffs. We don’t want another season in the playoffs – we believe we can win the league.
“The manager has been drumming into us all week that we can watch the clubs at the top. I would say we have the best squad in the league and we know what we need to do.
“There is plenty of quality in that dressing room and loads of belief that we can go on and win the league. It’s about clicking and finding our maximum – if we can do that we’ll have no problem climbing the table.
“Training this week has been brilliant and the boys are absolutely flying. We have been creating loads of chances, we just need to put the ball in the back of the net.”
Mercer has made 20 appearances for East Fife after leaving boyhood heroes Dunfermline last summer, along with fellow East End Park youth products Declan O’Kane and Ryan Goodfellow
He joked: “It was tough playing Dunfermline in my first game during pre-season!
“But I’ve really enjoyed it here and I would recommend it to any player who isn’t getting first team football – get out and play. I’ve found my feet at a senior level, and the difference between this and under-20s football is a million miles.
“I’ve got a few of the boys from Dunfermline. Jonathan [Page], Declan O’Kane and Ryan Goodfellow. I’m really good friends with Declan, another boy who just didn’t get a chance at Dunfermline. We both said ‘let’s go and play regular football’. East Fife was a perfect fit.”