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The Dark Blues
  • Not even The Moose would win this spot the ball competition.

    To A Moose

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    Twelve goals from open play in Dundee's entire league season to date will tell you where our issues lie.

    Yes, we concede too many soft goals and no, we don't seem to know how to close a game out but surely the antidote to those ills also comes from the ability to score more goals? I remember The Cobra and The Mongoose, but will anyone ever remember The Moose?

    Throughout my years following Dundee FC, the mighty Dark Blues have had all manner of animals ply their trade up front for the club.

    The Cobra and the Mongoose will have anyone who experienced the 80s purring about a dynamic duo who could reduce the top flight’s defences to quivering wrecks with the merest Keith Wright knock down and Tommy Coyne rifling shot.

    The Mongoose’s next partner started off as everyone’s favourite diminutive Dumbo impressionist, but in the club’s darkest days ‘luggy’ turned out to be something of a snake. Whereas the absolute beast that is Christian Nade lumbered and thundered his way into Dee hearts with gutsy displays and a flicked header that calmed nerves on a Championship winning day crammed with drama, conspiracies and one of the best saves seen at Dens for many a year.

    The same season, the rather portly and overly bearded Craig Beattie did his best loveable bear impression, as he belied a lack of fitness to snatch a few vital goals. However it’s a certain Moose that has had possibly the most divisive period in a Dundee shirt of any prospective big goal hunter, the undoubtedly big hearted Tunisian loved by some, yet derided by the many. 

    As 2016-17 came to a close, the toothless tiger of Marcus Haber was already rumoured to be on his way out of his Dens Park pen after the loveable but lazy Rory Loy had been the latest fox in the box to look like he had been tired out by those hounding him from the stands (and deservedly so). Therefore surely top of Neil McCann’s big ticket items to draw in the crowds was a hungry poacher who would turn from hunted beast into a ravenous goal snatching animal.

    Arriving just as the Dundee team headed towards the lion rampant badged home of Raith Rovers, the snipers were already taking aim, the bearded Tunisian’s Wiki stats an early reason for consternation (even if I did read once that Mido had spent a couple of years by the Tay on that ever reliable source of information), but a 21 minute cameo resulted in a debut goal only 13 minutes into Moussa’s Dundee career and instant love from the dark blue travelling support. A dangerous tap dance routine celebration that almost resulted in this new hero landing head first into the second row of away stand seats led to cries of “Moooooooooooooooooooooussssssssssssa!” being heard long into the night – even if a certain Jack Hendry (who? Never heard of him!) actually dug out the League Cup win with a last gasp cheek buster. 

    The Moose’s second goal in as many games came against the plucky minnows of Buckie Thistle, but if his first two thirds of a season for Dundee will be remembered for one thing, it will be the overhead kick that was part of a glorious hat-trick against lowly Cowdenbeath – the part timers however proving to be one of the worst ‘professional’ outfits this Dundee supporter has ever seen.

    Even then as Central Park emptied and talk of Moussa’s fifth goal in three games began to spread fear across Scottish football, those in attendance were already whispering concerns that much though the goals were flowing, this lad wasn’t really a player. Being kept quiet by a Dundee United defence that was as effective at holding itself together as a three week old baby’s nappy, the signs were there, but so too was the dichotomy of The Moose.

    Utterly ineffective throughout the ninety minutes, when the ball was placed on the spot for a farcical penalty shoot-out loss that somehow gained us home advantage, Moussa looked calm and assured as he picked his spot. And from there only strikes from twelve yards have been forthcoming (when A-Jay Leitch-Smith wasn’t stealing the ball and missing, of course). Headers have been skewed wide, shots sclaffed at the keeper, fresh air swipes and what look like goal line clearances for the opposition being acted out when it often seemed easier to score - and let’s not even mention the goal gifting halfway-line pass back against Hearts.

    Don’t get me wrong, his suspiciously offside looking piece of skill by his unsuspecting backside counts as a ‘real’ goal and even those not provided with dark blue shades will admit that Moussa has been robbed of perfectly good ‘goals’ against both Motherwell and Hamilton through the sheer ineptitude of the officials. But is that just bad luck or occurrences symptomatic of a player who simply finds the dark art of scoring goals from open play beyond him?

    An initially productive looking partnership with AJ-LS seems to have fizzled out into nothing and an on-off chop and change between the equally baffling Haber and The Moose certainly hasn’t helped, but in the end it’s hard to argue with those saying that Moussa simply isn’t good enough. If it wasn’t for the fact we look even worse when he isn’t playing. Without a focal point the rest of Dundee’s attack flounders, runs into each other and barely gets a touch of the ball, and yet when Moussa plays it’s actually him undoing all of his own good work by missing the chances, whether they be half, glaring, or stick ons. 

    He certainly is not a ‘wee, sleekit, cowran, tim’rous beastie’, but this is one Moose that needs to start being more bullish in an around the box. Here’s hoping come season’s end we’re forgetting all about past beasts of old and are instead talking of the sweet taste of M&M’s, Moussa and a new fox in the box in the shape of Simon Murray. If not, there’s a possibility that it won’t be only a Moose getting put down come the last day. 

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    • By TheDarkBlues
      Thomas "Tommy" Coyne (born 14 November 1962 in Govan) is a former international footballer who played for the Republic of Ireland team due to his Irish ancestry.

      Tommy Coyne played for Hillwood Boys Club before starting his professional career at Clydebank, where he made his debut in the 1981-82 season, in which he scored 9 goals in 31 matches. After scoring 19 in 38 matches in his second season, he began the 1983-84 season with 10 goals in 11 games before being sold to Dundee United, then a rising force in Scottish football as part of the New Firm, for £60,000. However, Coyne failed to reproduce his form at Tannadice and scored only 9 goals in 62 games, though he did score a few goals in the UEFA Cup. Halfway through the 1986-7 season he was transferred to city rivals Dundee, where he found his scoring boots again, notching up 9 goals in 20 games in the second half of the season. In the 1987-88 season Coyne was top scorer in the Premier Division as he scored 33 goals in 43 matches. After scoring 9 goals in 20 matches at the start of the 1988-89 season he was sold on to Celtic.

      Coyne again failed to reproduce his form at the start of his Celtic career and did not score for the remainder of the season. The following season was also hardly a success, with 7 goals in 23 games. The next season, 1990-91 saw Coyne revert to his previous form with 18 goals in 26 games, as he finished the season as top scorer. Despite scoring 15 goals in the following season and 3 in 10 games at the start of the 1992-93 season, Coyne was transferred to Tranmere Rovers in March 1993.

      After a short spell in England, Coyne returned to Scotland to join Motherwell in November 1993 for £125,000. In 1994-95 he was again the Scottish Premier Division's top scorer, and scored 59 goals in 132 games for Motherwell.

      Coyne is the only player to be Scottish Premier Division top scorer with three different clubs.

      Coyne left for Dundee in 1998, where he was loaned out to Falkirk. He then returned to his first club, Clydebank, as player/manager in August 2000 and picked up the Scottish Second Division Manager of the Month award a month later. However, he was sacked after six months after the club had entered administration despite the club being near the top of Division Two. Coyne's wife had died while he was in England. Soon after leaving Clydebank he joined Albion Rovers, where he ended his playing career.

      In his international career, Coyne won 22 caps for the Republic of Ireland and scored 6 goals. He made his international debut on 25 March 1992 against Switzerland in a friendly played at Lansdowne Road, Dublin. This game was the international debut for Eddie McGoldrick and was Paul McGrath's fiftieth cap.Coyne waited just 27 minutes before scoring his first international goal. He was replaced by John Aldridge in the eightieth minute, who converted from the penalty spot to make it a 2-1 victory for the Republic. Coyne started three of Ireland's four matches in the 1994 World Cup but he failed to score in the tournament.

      His best game for Ireland was the 4-0 victory over Liechtenstein on 12 October 1994, played at Lansdowne Road. Coyne scored two goals in the opening four minutes of the game but failed to achieve his hat trick. He played his last game for the Republic, coming on as a substitute for David Connolly, in the 1-1 draw with Belgium on 29 October 1997. The game was the first leg of a playoff for qualification for the 1998 World Cup, Belgium won the second leg 2-1 and qualified for the 1998 World Cup.

      After finishing his playing career, Coyne coached Junior club Bellshill Athletic. The club won the West Division One in 2003-04, but Coyne left the job in July 2005.

      Coyne's son, also named Tommy is also a striker and currently plays for Linlithgow Rose where he has gained a player of the year award and scored 38 goals in the 2009/10 season.

      Coyne's other son, Bradley Coyne, plays for Stirling Albion in the Scottish Third Division.
    • By UWTB1893
      The Tunisian striker who has netted five goals for Dundee this season, joins long term injury Craig Wighton which leaves the Dee short of strikers.
      The club have yet to announce how long Moussa will be out for.

      Darren O’Dea’s status is still unknown after being substituted with a knee problem on Saturday but he has had a scan to determine the extent of injury.

      There could be some good news on the horizon for Dundee fans.

      Roarie Deacon who was left out of Saturdays clash with Hamilton with a strain has been making good progress. Also, Randy Wolters injury which he picked up during the clash with Accies is not as bad as first feared.
    • By UWTB1893
      The Canadian handed his side another precious three points in a 1-0 win with his second-half winner at Rugby Park as the Dark Blues continue their revival under interim boss Neil McCann.

      But Haber claimed blanking out the opposition for the first time since their New Year's Eve triumph over St Johnstone meant just as much.

      The Dens Park outfit have now bounced back from the seven-game losing streak which cost Paul Hartley his job with back-to-back victories under McCann and have moved four points clear of the play-off zone.

      "I took just as much satisfaction from the clean sheet as I did my goal," Haber told Press Association Sport. "Keeping clean sheets is something we've struggled with recently but if we have that solid foundation then the worst we can do is a draw.

      "We've worked really hard at being hard to break down and the main thing on Saturday was keeping the clean sheet.

      "We haven't done that for a while so we're delighted.

      "Right now we're confident we can score goals. We have enough quality in the final third but it's about being solid from top to bottom.

      "We've done that these last two games and it's paying off right now. But there's still a long way to go. We have three more games and we need to carry on this momentum."

      Killie thought they had put their own relegation fears to bed with last week's win at Hamilton.

      But defeat now leaves them just six points above Motherwell in 11th place with three games remaining.

      Now angry boss Lee McCulloch has promised to make changes to his line-up ahead of facing Inverness next week.

      He said: "We'll dust ourselves down and come back on Monday. This wasn't because the players thought we were safe because we know we aren't yet. The players have been told that every day at training.

      "However, we gave away a horrendous goal when we lose a runner, allow a cross to come in and then don't defend it well enough. But that had been coming from the first three minutes.

      "Dundee more than deserved the three points and well done to Neil McCann for turning them round. We have three games left, starting with Inverness here next week so we'll go again."
    • By UWTB1893
      And, in the wake of seven straight defeats that have plunged Dundee down to the relegation play-off place, he accepts he should be.
      But the Canadian international has assured Dark Blues fans every member of the squad is fighting tooth and nail to get to safety.
      It’s been a horrific time for Haber and his team-mates as they’ve gone from top-six contenders to the side pundits are tipping for the drop.
      The board, though, have taken measures they think will prevent that by bringing in McCann.
      For Haber, despite the disappointment of seeing Hartley lose his job, it’s a case of all hands to the pump to help McCann keep the club in the division.
      “Everyone is committed to the cause, everyone is fighting for the team and the club. That’s never going to change,” said the 27-year-old.
      “Right now it’s all about sticking to what we know we’re capable of and trying to get results to turn things round. We know we can do that and we will.”
      He takes strength from the fact when he signed up at Dens back in October, initially on a short-term contract that’s since become a two-year deal, the team were bottom of the table.
      That situation worsened when Dundee went down 2-0 to Partick on his debut but there followed an immediate and impressive recovery that got the team back into mid-table by the turn of the year.
      And while the current horrible run of defeats has seen them plummet back down to second bottom, he believes another comeback is on the cards during the post-split fixtures.
      “We’ve shown we can beat most teams in this league and put together a run of results.
      “We have the players to do that, for sure. It’s about getting the majority of the team playing well again and we can do that.
      “Right now we might lack a bit of confidence, that’s normal from these types of results we’ve had. But we need to stick together as a group and we should be OK.”
      During this run the emphasis has been on putting each defeat behind them as quickly as possible and focusing on the next game but Haber concedes the players have to learn from the mistakes that have been made over the last month-and-a-half.
      And he doesn’t disguise the feeling of frustration over what is a self-inflicted crisis.
      “I think you look at the individual mistakes and collectively you have to look at the 90 minutes of each game and see where we need to improve.
      “There will always be incidences throughout the 90 minutes that can change the course of the game and you need to look at that bigger picture and work on those areas.
      “On Saturday against Hamilton we came into the game confident and to try to take some points, so we were disappointed with the result and how we conceded the goals as well.
      “Giving away a penalty is hard to take and the late goal from a set-piece was disappointing, too.
      “We’d set up in a way of playing because we wanted to be more attacking, especially at home and create more chances.
      “We started the game decent, had a few half-chances, got into some good areas but it just didn’t work for us.
      “It’s a game of inches. It just takes that extra bit of quality in the final third, that bit of class, and I think that’s what we’re lacking right now.”
    • By UWTB1893
      The Canadian targetman has yet to train after injuring his knee against Celtic before the break, making him “50/50” for the visit of the second-placed Dons.
      Ojamaa has come through his trip with Estonia unscathed but will only get back from his travels across Europe in time for a single training session today.
      And Hartley admitted his plans are up in the air.
      “Marcus is touch and go,” he reported. “He hasn’t trained. We’ll see how he is tomorrow. I’d say he’s 50/50 at this moment in time.
      “He’s not done anything since the Celtic game. It’s just been treatment and rest.
      “It’s an awkward one. It would be a massive risk to throw him in if we weren’t sure. We could maybe have him out for four or five weeks.
      “He’s been such an important player for us and we don’t have a like for like replacement. But, if he misses one game then so be it.”
      Hartley added: “Ojamaa doesn’t report back until tomorrow. He’s been on international duty.
      “He’s fine but we have to consider that he played at the weekend and he’s had to travel. He won’t have done any work with us until tomorrow. He’s another one we’ll have to assess.
      “Craig (Wighton) has been away with the Scotland under-21s as well. We’ve not been working with a lot of numbers over the last week or so.
      “I’ve got three or four teams in my head.
      “The personnel available will dictate the side. We’ve got to prepare for Marcus being OK and not OK and the same with Ojamaa.
      “We’re OK as a back four and in midfield but up front is the real concern for us.”
      Julen Etxabeguren is out for six months, while fellow centre-back Kostadin Gadzhalov is also sidelined.
      “He’s out for three or four weeks with a bad calf injury,” Hartley said. “We’ve got two fit centre-halves just now.”
      The doubts over Haber and Ojamaa are far from ideal for Hartley but the recent form of Faissal El Bakhtaoui has been heartening.
      “He got his goal against Celtic and scored a couple in the testimonial match at Forfar,” said the Dundee boss. “He’s looked really sharp.
      “It has taken him a period of time to settle. We always knew that would be the case.
      “He was making a big jump up but he’s getting to grips with it.
      “We’ve had him on a strength programme for the last three months.
      “He’s been in every morning to work on that. It was a side of his game he needed to look at.
      “He’s had to learn the tactical side as well. At Dunfermline he was a bit of a free spirit but it’s not the same here because of the work off the ball you have to do.
      “I think he’s going to be an excellent signing for us. I really do. He’s got such great quality, touch and is really sharp. It’s about bringing everything together.”
      Following up a game against Celtic with an Aberdeen fixture is as tough as it gets in Scottish football.
      “They’re an outstanding team and they’ve got so many match-winners,” Hartley said of the Pittodrie side.
      “There’s real pace in the side, especially in the final third. Hayes, McGinn, Pawlett and McLean are all hitting real form.
      “We know we’re facing an excellent team on a great run.
      “We’ve done OK against them in the past. Most of the matches have been tight affairs and we’ve usually given them a good game.
      “I think they’ve got the quality and mentality to finish second. Their key games will probably be against Rangers. On their current form though, you wouldn’t bet against them.
      “Our performances have been decent on the whole against the likes of Hearts, Rangers and Celtic, as well as Aberdeen, to an extent.
      “We’re in front of the cameras again and it should be a good game. We both need the points for different reasons.
      “I would still say that we need three wins if we’re to have a chance of the top six. But there are six managers thinking they need a couple of victories to push away from the bottom as well.”
    • By UWTB1893
      And with the Dark Blues’ weekend fixture coming on Friday night against Aberdeen, time is short for those who picked up injuries and those with tired legs.
      The major injury issue for manager Paul Hartley is striker Marcus Haber, who hurt his knee late in the game against Celtic, forcing him to pull out of Canada’s friendly with Scotland on the day of the game.
      Pulling out was a precautionary measure with a big end to the season coming for Dundee and targetman Haber has become an integral part of the gameplan since signing back in October and will leave a huge void should he not regain fitness in time for the Dons clash.
      At the other end of the park, with the squad already short of centre-back cover due to long-term injuries to Julen Etxabeguren and James McPake, Kosta Gadzhalov limped out of Martyn Fotheringham’s testimonial last Tuesday.
      It’s still unclear what the nature of the problem is but if the Bulgarian is out for any length of time, Hartley only has two fit senior centre-backs to call on in Darren O’Dea and Kevin Gomis.
      Former Celtic youngster, Daniel Higgins, who signed for the club in January, impressed in that testimonial at Station Park in the centre of defence. However, it’s one thing doing well against League Two Forfar in a friendly and another entirely coming up against Aberdeen’s front three of Adam Rooney, Jonny Hayes and Niall McGinn.
      Other worries for the Dundee forward line concern Henrik Ojamaa and Craig Wighton.
      Both are set to feature in international matches tomorrow night and, with the Premiership fixture with the Dons just three nights after that, there is little time to recover.
      Ojamaa is set to feature for Estonia in a friendly against Croatia in Tallinn.
      And he won’t return to Dens until the day before the Aberdeen game.
      The 25-year-old striker started in their 0-0 draw in Cyprus on Saturday but was substituted after 65 minutes. That result leaves Estonia in fifth place in Group H with four points from five games and essentially rules out any hope of catching the front three of Belgium, Greece and Bosnia and Herzegovina.
      Meanwhile, Wighton is in the Scotland U/21 squad who take on Estonia in a friendly at St Mirren Park tomorrow night.
    • By UWTB1893
      The big Bulgarian will definitely miss next Friday night’s game at Dens while there is a doubt over another key player, Marcus Haber.
      The Canadian striker missed his country’s friendly fixture against Scotland in Edinburgh on Wednesday night after suffering a knee injury in last weekend’s game at Dens against Celtic.
      The 29-year-old, who has netted six times since joining the Dark Blues in October, will be assessed next week with Hartley keeping his fingers crossed that he will be passed fit for the Dons game.
      Gadzhalov hurt his calf at the start of Tuesday night’s testimonial at Station Park for Forfar stalwart Martyn Fotheringham.
      Hartley now only has two fit first-team central defenders in Darren O’Dea and Kevin Gomis with Julen Etxabeguren recently having Achilles surgery and club captain James McPake a long-term absentee because of his knee injury.
      Meanwhile, Dundee’s Craig Wighton is in the Scotland Under-21 squad that will play Estonia at St Mirren’s ground next Tuesday night.
    • By UWTB1893
      The problem forced the big striker to miss his country’s friendly draw with Scotland at Easter Road on Wednesday night.
      Now, there is a doubt over whether Haber will be fit to return for his club when they play next Friday against Aberdeen.
      He could be seen limping towards the end of the Hoops game but with Dundee having used all three of their substitutes, the forward had to soldier on until the final whistle.
      Haber has become an important player for the Dark Blues since he joined the club in October, netting six times.

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