Jump to content
The Dark Blues
  • Doon Derby Magic from The Wizard

    Winging It

       (0 reviews)

    Most Dee’s will have been saddened by the recent departure of Craig ‘CW33’ Wighton to Hearts. The parallels between the journey he is setting out on and the one taken by his now ex-manager, Neil McCann, just over 20 years before him, also something that won’t have escaped those of a Dark Blue persuasion.

    Making his Dundee debut in his teens, becoming the club’s youngest ever goal scorer along the way and having been lauded by his peers and elders are all bold boasts. And yet, it was his squirting, squirming trundler that sauntered its way through the entire Dundee United defence to nestle in their goal in the final moments of the never to be forgotten Doon Derby that will always see ‘CW33’ as part of our club’s history. That Craig leaves an impressive legacy at Dens is an understatement, especially considering he’s still only 21.

    With so much going his way, Wighton’s departure for a reported £250,000, doesn’t seem that much of a shock. However, unlike his manager before him, the major difference this time is that this youngster, so far, has failed to truly fulfil his potential. Most people believe that Wighton’s ultimate position within a team will be the traditional No.10 role as the playmaker sitting behind the front two; pulling the strings, tormenting opposition midfielders and chipping in with more than a few goals of his own. 

    Hence, the question really needs to be, why have Dundee supporters, seldom, if ever, seen ‘The Wizard’, as he was dubbed by the likes of Gary Harkins no less, in that role? In truth, only his one-time Dundee managers, John Brown, Paul Hartley and Neil McCann, can answer that question. 

    Instead, the role that the tricky ball player was most often asked to fill was one that has proved to be a poisoned chalice for many a Dee. All manner of players squeezed and squashed into a role that was never going to suit them. The dreaded wide left midfield berth…

    We don’t have to go any further back than last season to find Neil McCann asking the, admittedly at a much mower level, free scoring Faissal El Bakhtaoui to play on the left wing. The slightly built whippet looking a forlorn figure as games passed him by. Admittedly El-Bak would also be tried unsuccessfully in umpteen other positions, but as often as not the striker could be found struggling to take on the opposition right back and over hitting crosses into The Derry. 

    So, obviously this is a weakness of Neil McCann’s managerial style? Well, probably yes, and possibly no, for he is not alone. From the top of my head Dee legends Jim Duffy and Jocky Scott were equally afflicted by a desire to utilise players completely unsuited to the role of a winger, as their wide left option. 

    Don’t believe me? Well, ask yourself why Colin McMenamin, who scored a barrowload of goals for the likes of Livingston and Gretna before coming to Dundee, and Queen of the South and Ross County after his departure, had his early goal scoring form for The Dee’s ignored as Jocky asked him to protect the full back and whip in crosses from the left. After all, this was a player who needed to stop a stranger and ask him for directions if he found himself anywhere other than in the opposition’s penalty box. 

    Something that could also be said for Rory Loy, a poacher who found himself, quite rightly, surplus to goalscoring requirements when Kane Hemmings hit a career high purple patch for Dundee. Harrying defenders and putting in crunching tackles was never on Loy’s agenda and arguably his spell under Paul Hartley’s tutelage ruined the striker’s career.

    Other less obvious ‘wingers’ to plough the wide left furrow at Dens include a couple of players whose own individual talent proved enough to rise above being played out of position. Leigh Griffith’s tenacity, blistering pace and accuracy from distance more than enough to hide his questionable deployment. While the glorious one, Gary Harkins, was (and still is) capable of mesmerising defenders with his fleet footwork and the merest shimmy of his ample hips. Still, like Craig Wighton, ‘GGH’ was a maestro you wanted pulling the strings from the centre of the park, devastating defences as he did so.

    Less successful was the man of not one goal, but of Juan, two three strikes against Dundee United, Juan Sara. Who, once the goals dried up under Jim Duffy’s direction, also found himself playing deeper and deeper and, on occasion, marginalised out on the left. With his confidence already shot through his sudden lack of goals, playing in a position that he was never suited to was only going to end one way. The DAB destroyer becoming a pale, impotent shadow of the player he had once been.

    However, the most ludicrous left winger I’ve seen in my time going to watch Dundee is actually one of our cult heroes. A goal scoring target man with time spent at Celtic, Aberdeen, Middlesbrough and Watford – and fresh from a reasonably prolific spell with Motherwell – Willie Falconer is undoubtedly one of the most effective, out and out, frontmen we’ve seen at Dens over the past twenty years. 

    So what his manager at the time, the much moustachioed Jocky Scott, was thinking as Dundee lined up at home to Rangers on a cold February evening in 2000, with the hustling, bustling, centre back bursting Falconer hugging the left hand touchline, I don’t think anyone – including Jocky – will ever know. Old ladies used to ask ‘Big Wullie’ if he needed a hand to cross the street, so the only shock when the seasoned frontman spent 90 minutes falling over his own feet, hitting defenders with ‘crosses’ and losing the ball over and over, was that his manager didn’t see it coming. Rangers did and promptly left Dens with a victory of seven goals to one. 

    To Willie’s great credit, he outlasted his manager at Dens, resisted Ivano Bonetti’s cull of Scottish players and went on to successfully partner no less than Claudio Caniggia in the Dee’s frontline. Quickly putting to rest one of the most bizarre midfield ‘experiments’ we’ve ever seen.

    In fairness to these strikers come left wingers, even players who were supposedly ‘meant’ to play out there, have found the position too much for them when they arrived at Dundee. Mark Gilhaney, having destroyed The Dark Blues for Hamilton Accies down the left wing on numerous occasions, looking like a lost wee laddie asking for his Mum when he pulled on a Dark Blue shirt. While Freddie Daquin is legendary for his ability to run down the wing and straight out of play. Although to be fair to the Frenchman, he proved just as adept at that skill on his favoured right flank as he did when hunting for some never to be found form on the left! 

    And yet, last season, with the welcome exception of his top flight securing cross onto the head of Simon Murray, Randy Wolters made nearly all of these men look like world beaters. The burly, attitude packed wide-o showing up without a trick in his bag, or an end product to sell. 

    But surely not every player to play wide left over the past few decades for Dundee has been absolutely, dreadfully awful in that role? Well, when he was played a little deeper, Gavin Swankie gave it a half decent go, while, to be fair, it’s hard to say that the much maligned Ryan Conroy doesn’t show up rather favourably against most of those both before and after his time at the club.
     
    Ryan’s wing-partner Nicky Riley, also gave it a half decent go when he was put on his less favoured side. While there’s no denying that the man of many, all and sometimes no midfield position at all, Greg Stewart, did a lot of his best work while playing down that flank. Although a certain Kevin Holt might not be so keen to agree...

    Hence, we might just need to go back to the gaffer, Mr Neil McCann, to unearth the last Dundee player to truly make the left wing his own. Dropping his shoulder to beat players, hitting the byline to expertly stick the ball on Jim Hamilton’s napper and scoring the occasional wonder goal, just as he did the night he helped send Dundee to the Coca Cola cup final.

    Which, of course, begs the questions of why our current manager, a man who spent years tormenting right backs, prefers such a narrow formation, and why can’t he find a left midfielder with even a tenth of the potency he possessed?

    With Craig Wighton now wearing the maroon of Hearts, who will be next to be left out in the cold? Well, we’ve already seen Jean Alassane Mendy run about lost against St Johnstone out there and, of course, one of Scotland’s most prolific goal scorers of the past couple of decades, Kenny Miller, become more and more frustrated as the curse tried to overcome him on his debut for Dundee. Calvin Miller, it’s over to you. No pressure now... 

    User Feedback

    Join the conversation

    You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
    Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

    Guest
  • Newest Blogs

  • Similar Content

    • By TheDarkBlues
      The ref against Heart was Nick Walsh. How did you rate his performance in this game?
    • By TheDarkBlues
      How did you rate Jim McIntyre's team selection, substitutions and performance today?
    • By TheDarkBlues
      Your three word match report for the game against Hearts today?
    • By TheDarkBlues
      Another mistake in defence gifts Hearts an early goal as Dundee lose at Home.
      A scrappy affair in the box as O'Dea fails to clear the ball and gifts Clare an easy chance in front of goal.
      Dundee 0 - 1 Hearts.
    • By TheDarkBlues
      Neil McCann believed he brought in players who he thought were the same class as the players at Serie A sides like Milan and Juventus but the fans could see from the offset that most of the new additions weren't good enough.
      Our defence has been a shambles and it doesn’t really matter who seems to play there, nothing really changes and that is testament to the amount of goals we have shipped so far this season. 60 in total so far and that is unacceptable for the club.
      When you are not scoring goals, you expect your defence to at least keep a few clean sheets. Our goal difference could be the difference between staying up or going down.
      You could put our performances and results down to McCann's duds, but I feel that both managers have to take responsibility for our results as well. While McCann could be excused for being inexperienced, you cannot excuse some of his team selections, formations and tactics, as at times they were bloody awful. I'm not sure that given more time the results would have started to change under McCann and I think we could have been left trailing at the basement of the league. In all honestly, the shock was how long the board actually let him go on before changing.
      After McCann was sacked, John Nelms was in the news saying that we needed to bring in a more experienced manager, but in good old Dundee fashion, we couldn't even do that right.
      When the club appointed McIntyre they surely knew that the new boss would want his own assistant and that would be Billy Dodds who would bring a lot of baggage with him and there possibly would have been an uproar from the Dundee faithful. I honestly thought that Nelms and Keyes were shocked by the response and even though Dodds had been interviewed, the board quickly backtracked him out the door.
      Judging by a lot of the fans’ reaction, many were surprised but not shocked by the appointment of McIntyre but were secretly hoping that we would have brought someone else in instead. I, like many, were hoping that with the arrival of a more experienced manager we would start seeing improvements on the park, better team organisation in each area of the team, improved fitness, much better tactics and formation. But truth be told, this really didn't happen with a lot of fans bemoaning that nothing would change until the new boss got his own players in.
      In all honesty, while there has been a little improvement, it hasn't been enough and I have to ask, how long will it take before we actually start seeing the improvement on the park?
      After the January transfer window we had another mass exodus of players leaving and coming in. We have fielded more players this season than we have played games, and it has been another year of rebuilding due to management failures. I dread to think how many players we have had on our books since we were promoted to the Premier league in 2014 and the amount of money we may have wasted by getting players with long term contract off the books. Surely the board need to have a long hard think about the transfer policies and willingness to back managers in this way.
      We practically have a whole new team from the one which started the first game of the season. Gone are many so called McCann duds and McIntyre seems to have been prudent in his transfers, mostly on loan players who seem an upgrade on the departing players. Yes there are signs of improvement since January, but it still seems that we are no more organised in defence and over the last two games we have shipped eight goals.
      However, we seemed to have addressed our goal scoring issue, with Nelson looking to be a more natural goal scorer than Moussa or Mendy. Wright and Dales give us much better attacking options and Curran will harass anything that moves. But has McIntyre put together a team that can survive the drop? I guess we will have to wait and see.
    • By TheDarkBlues
      Neil McCann believed he brought in players who he thought were the same class as the players at Serie A sides like Milan and Juventus but the fans could see from the offset that most of the new additions weren't good enough.
      Our defence has been a shambles and it doesn’t really matter who seems to play there, nothing really changes and that is testament to the amount of goals we have shipped so far this season. 60 in total so far and that is unacceptable for the club.
      When you are not scoring goals, you expect your defence to at least keep a few clean sheets. Our goal difference could be the difference between staying up or going down.
      You could put our performances and results down to McCann's duds, but I feel that both managers have to take responsibility for our results as well. While McCann could be excused for being inexperienced, you cannot excuse some of his team selections, formations and tactics, as at times they were bloody awful. I'm not sure that given more time the results would have started to change under McCann and I think we could have been left trailing at the basement of the league. In all honestly, the shock was how long the board actually let him go on before changing.
      After McCann was sacked, John Nelms was in the news saying that we needed to bring in a more experienced manager, but in good old Dundee fashion, we couldn't even do that right.
      When the club appointed McIntyre they surely knew that the new boss would want his own assistant and that would be Billy Dodds who would bring a lot of baggage with him and there possibly would have been an uproar from the Dundee faithful. I honestly thought that Nelms and Keyes were shocked by the response and even though Dodds had been interviewed, the board quickly backtracked him out the door.
      Judging by a lot of the fans’ reaction, many were surprised but not shocked by the appointment of McIntyre but were secretly hoping that we would have brought someone else in instead. I, like many, were hoping that with the arrival of a more experienced manager we would start seeing improvements on the park, better team organisation in each area of the team, improved fitness, much better tactics and formation. But truth be told, this really didn't happen with a lot of fans bemoaning that nothing would change until the new boss got his own players in.
      In all honesty, while there has been a little improvement, it hasn't been enough and I have to ask, how long will it take before we actually start seeing the improvement on the park?
      After the January transfer window we had another mass exodus of players leaving and coming in. We have fielded more players this season than we have played games, and it has been another year of rebuilding due to management failures. I dread to think how many players we have had on our books since we were promoted to the Premier league in 2014 and the amount of money we may have wasted by getting players with long term contract off the books. Surely the board need to have a long hard think about the transfer policies and willingness to back managers in this way.
      We practically have a whole new team from the one which started the first game of the season. Gone are many so called McCann duds and McIntyre seems to have been prudent in his transfers, mostly on loan players who seem an upgrade on the departing players. Yes there are signs of improvement since January, but it still seems that we are no more organised in defence and over the last two games we have shipped eight goals.
      However, we seemed to have addressed our goal scoring issue, with Nelson looking to be a more natural goal scorer than Moussa or Mendy. Wright and Dales give us much better attacking options and Curran will harass anything that moves. But has McIntyre put together a team that can survive the drop? I guess we will have to wait and see.

      View full blog
    • By barkblue
      Looking back, as I have been, over Dundee FC’s 1996-97 season for the occasional ‘from the scrapbooks’ blogs, it’s difficult to take in the turmoil the club was going through at the time. Having just missed out on silverware the year before, top players (Morten Weighorst, Neil McCann, Jim Hamilton) had been sold to balance the books. With erstwhile owner, Ron Dixon, often so far out of the Dens Park loop that the remaining board members couldn’t find him and beleaguered boss Jim Duffy finally having enough of bailing out his DFC charges and heading off to Hibernian (and taking Chic Charnley, Paul Tosh and Lee Power with him), stability was in short supply. On the park, the aforementioned Charnley had been sent off in a 7-2 reverse for allegedly ‘lamping’ his own team mate, in what was John McCormack’s first game in charge, while the arrival of lower league goal machine Eddie Annand still couldn’t refuel the Dark Blue’s title tilt – or even their play-off push.
      It was a crazy time but I’d argue that this season has been equally maddening, saddening and ridiculous. A fact all the more bewildering when you factor in that off the park we have been, arguably, as stable as we ever have across the past four decades. A manager has been handed his jotters, we’ve built and then destroyed an entire new squad and then assembled another one. We’ve offered the first boss of the season a mentor just days before punting him and the new man at the helm wanted to be assisted by a guy who can maybe best be described as Dark Blue public enemy number one. And don’t even get us started about the on field guff we’ve been asked to endure. 
      Neil McCann made Dens Park a sanctuary for the untried tippy-tappy underachievers from home and abroad. A remarkably one dimensional squad created with no goal threat and absolutely zero ability to keep the round thing out of the net at the other end. 
      Over and above that, individual errors – missed back passes, missed penalties, missed sitters and defenders being posted missing, meaning that Dundee seemed to miss the point – and the points – almost every week under Cardie-man’s reign. His time had come, but we stumbled on and on and on… Experience was required and when it didn’t appear in the guise of Jim Jefferies (how many near misses can you have??), it arrived in the shape of ex-DAB and wee Billy’s best mate in football, Jim McIntyre.
      Taking control to the theme tune of Orange Juice’s ‘Rip It Up (And Start Again)’, McIntyre initially tinkered and toiled with players who were either clearly not good enough or clearly not interested enough to turn around our fortunes. With a full first team’s worth of players either frozen out, or out on loan, the transfer window opened and players began being pushed through it, as others clambered in. 
      A new keeper, two new centre backs (one who got injured immediately…) a new right back. One, no two, make that three, four, maybe five midfielders arrived and a strike threat and battering ram partner also made an entrance. And yet still The General made all the headlines as he battered in a goal at Tynecastle and gifted points away on an almost weekly basis at the other end. Call it what you want, but losing last minute equalisers at Hamilton, missing a last minute game winning penalty at home to Killie, gifting Hibs four goals – and outplaying them for long stretches of a game – can only be called one thing: Relegation Form. 
      Going to Ibrox is never easy, but with McIntyre exposing his inability to know whether to stick or twist (we didn’t defend in numbers and we didn’t support the front men well, so what exactly did we do???), the 4-0 drubbing was more worrying than a usual Glasgow disaster should be. With Hamilton and St Mirren suddenly hitting some sort of form, as we let what little impetus we had built up all too easily slip away, the signs are not good.
      However, from the appointment of Neil McCann, to the assembling of a squad of gifted footballers that had no idea how to win games. From the third massive turnaround of players in two seasons (let’s not even look at Hartley’s latter days) to the club, once again, writing the manual on how not to appoint a manager, and not forgetting the Glen Kamara transfer debacle, this season has been an abject lesson in how not to build stability on the park, or to cement a place in the top flight.
      Hence, the real surprise, is that we still have our destiny in our own hands. We still have Hamilton and St Mirren to play often enough between now and the end of the season that ‘6 points’ will regularly be up for grabs. 
      We have undoubtedly improved under McIntyre. In fact I’d say without him we’d already be as good as relegated. We do seem to now know where the goal is and do seem to be able to compete against most teams in the league. What we have to do now is shake off the ‘relegation form’ and turn draws into wins and learn how to keep it tight when we have to. We also need to stamp out individual errors – yes I’m looking at you Genseric. 
      Jim McIntyre himself has said we are in for a roller coaster ride right up until the closing day of the season. Was it ever any different?

      View full blog
    • By barkblue
      Looking back, as I have been, over Dundee FC’s 1996-97 season for the occasional ‘from the scrapbooks’ blogs, it’s difficult to take in the turmoil the club was going through at the time. Having just missed out on silverware the year before, top players (Morten Weighorst, Neil McCann, Jim Hamilton) had been sold to balance the books. With erstwhile owner, Ron Dixon, often so far out of the Dens Park loop that the remaining board members couldn’t find him and beleaguered boss Jim Duffy finally having enough of bailing out his DFC charges and heading off to Hibernian (and taking Chic Charnley, Paul Tosh and Lee Power with him), stability was in short supply. On the park, the aforementioned Charnley had been sent off in a 7-2 reverse for allegedly ‘lamping’ his own team mate, in what was John McCormack’s first game in charge, while the arrival of lower league goal machine Eddie Annand still couldn’t refuel the Dark Blue’s title tilt – or even their play-off push.
      It was a crazy time but I’d argue that this season has been equally maddening, saddening and ridiculous. A fact all the more bewildering when you factor in that off the park we have been, arguably, as stable as we ever have across the past four decades. A manager has been handed his jotters, we’ve built and then destroyed an entire new squad and then assembled another one. We’ve offered the first boss of the season a mentor just days before punting him and the new man at the helm wanted to be assisted by a guy who can maybe best be described as Dark Blue public enemy number one. And don’t even get us started about the on field guff we’ve been asked to endure. 
      Neil McCann made Dens Park a sanctuary for the untried tippy-tappy underachievers from home and abroad. A remarkably one dimensional squad created with no goal threat and absolutely zero ability to keep the round thing out of the net at the other end. 
      Over and above that, individual errors – missed back passes, missed penalties, missed sitters and defenders being posted missing, meaning that Dundee seemed to miss the point – and the points – almost every week under Cardie-man’s reign. His time had come, but we stumbled on and on and on… Experience was required and when it didn’t appear in the guise of Jim Jefferies (how many near misses can you have??), it arrived in the shape of ex-DAB and wee Billy’s best mate in football, Jim McIntyre.
      Taking control to the theme tune of Orange Juice’s ‘Rip It Up (And Start Again)’, McIntyre initially tinkered and toiled with players who were either clearly not good enough or clearly not interested enough to turn around our fortunes. With a full first team’s worth of players either frozen out, or out on loan, the transfer window opened and players began being pushed through it, as others clambered in. 
      A new keeper, two new centre backs (one who got injured immediately…) a new right back. One, no two, make that three, four, maybe five midfielders arrived and a strike threat and battering ram partner also made an entrance. And yet still The General made all the headlines as he battered in a goal at Tynecastle and gifted points away on an almost weekly basis at the other end. Call it what you want, but losing last minute equalisers at Hamilton, missing a last minute game winning penalty at home to Killie, gifting Hibs four goals – and outplaying them for long stretches of a game – can only be called one thing: Relegation Form. 
      Going to Ibrox is never easy, but with McIntyre exposing his inability to know whether to stick or twist (we didn’t defend in numbers and we didn’t support the front men well, so what exactly did we do???), the 4-0 drubbing was more worrying than a usual Glasgow disaster should be. With Hamilton and St Mirren suddenly hitting some sort of form, as we let what little impetus we had built up all too easily slip away, the signs are not good.
      However, from the appointment of Neil McCann, to the assembling of a squad of gifted footballers that had no idea how to win games. From the third massive turnaround of players in two seasons (let’s not even look at Hartley’s latter days) to the club, once again, writing the manual on how not to appoint a manager, and not forgetting the Glen Kamara transfer debacle, this season has been an abject lesson in how not to build stability on the park, or to cement a place in the top flight.
      Hence, the real surprise, is that we still have our destiny in our own hands. We still have Hamilton and St Mirren to play often enough between now and the end of the season that ‘6 points’ will regularly be up for grabs. 
      We have undoubtedly improved under McIntyre. In fact I’d say without him we’d already be as good as relegated. We do seem to now know where the goal is and do seem to be able to compete against most teams in the league. What we have to do now is shake off the ‘relegation form’ and turn draws into wins and learn how to keep it tight when we have to. We also need to stamp out individual errors – yes I’m looking at you Genseric. 
      Jim McIntyre himself has said we are in for a roller coaster ride right up until the closing day of the season. Was it ever any different?
×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue.