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The Dark Blues
  • Neil McCann Has Nothing but Praise for Josh Meekings and Julen Etxabeguren.

    It seems that there is some good and bad news coming out of the Dark Blue camp regarding our injury list.

    Scott Allan will most likely be going back to his parent club as Celtic will want to oversea his recovery. Whether that means we will see him in a Dark Blue jersey again will remain to be seen. McCann stated in the news that “Because he’s a loan player we, quite rightly, have to be guided by Celtic and their medical staff. It’s early days and we’re just waiting.”

    Julen Etxabeguren's injury nightmare looks to be coming to a close. The Spanish defender injured his Achilles tendon last March against Partick Thistle and was stretchered off after 69 minutes. He went under the knife to correct the issue and has since been making a slow recovery.

    Jules has played in the under 20's and as recently as last week in Dave McKay's testimonial. McCann said 'That was his third or fourth game and he looks really good. I wanted him to feel like being a professional footballer again with a crowd, against a good St Johnstone side'.

    McCann admitted that before joining Dundee as manager he didn't know much about Julen.

    'I knew he was a quality player but I have to admit that I didn’t know too much about him beyond that. You need to get to know a player personally and see him training. I’ve been able to do that over the last couple of months, But he’s like a new signing. We’ve got Kosta and Josh coming back as well. These are like quality signings outside the transfer window.'

    Another long time absentee Kostadin Gadzhalov is set for a return. The big Bulgarian has been out since July with a Calf Strain which has seen him miss most of the start of the season. Like Etxabeguren, Gadzhalov has recently had a run in a few development league games and now shows signs that he could be back in the squad after the international break.

    Neill McCann has stated that Josh Meekings 'is looking brilliant' and could be nearing his Dundee debut. The ex-Inverness defender had been working on his recovery at Dens Park over the summer, fuelling speculation that the big defender could join the Dundee Ranks. Meekings joined Dundee in August just before the transfer windowed closed, however has had to wait over two months to wear a Dark Blue jersey in a competitive game while getting back to full health.

    'Josh has been looking good in training, but you can’t expect him to go straight in after such a long time out. After the international break, all going well, Josh and Jules will be ready to start pushing themselves for inclusion'.

    While this is good news for the players, this will however most likely give McCann a choice headache, this will possibly mean he will have 6 central defenders to choose from after the international break. However, with the way that the youngsters Kerr Waddell and Jack Hendry have been playing recently, the returnees may have to wait their turn before they get into that starting line-up.

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    I rate Meekings quite highly so looking forward to him fighting for a spot. With the Waddell and Hendry looking good in the team, he will find it hard though.

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  • Similar Content

    • 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?
    • By UWTB1893
      Last week was the most vocal I have ever been towards a manager of Dundee and despite saying that a win over Hamilton would paper over the cracks of our problems, Neil McCann deserves a reprieve for this week of any criticism.

      Continue reading by clicking the link below.

      https://theeaglesbeak.com/2018/10/02/dundee-grab-first-win-of-the-season/ 
    • By UWTB1893
      Last week was the most vocal I have ever been towards a manager of Dundee and despite saying that a win over Hamilton would paper over the cracks of our problems, Neil McCann deserves a reprieve for this week of any criticism.

      Continue reading by clicking the link below.

      https://theeaglesbeak.com/2018/10/02/dundee-grab-first-win-of-the-season/ 

      View full blog
    • By barkblue
      Since coming into the club in 2013 the American has now had to appoint, quite staggeringly, three managers, what with John Brown capitulating with the promotion finishing line in sight, Paul Hartley admitting he had run out of ideas as his team stared relegation in the face and now, the unbelievably convoluted removal of Neil McCann.
      Arriving after Hartley blurted out that he’d tried everything he knew as he failed to turn round the fortunes of his ailing squad, the tenure of Neil McCann went from the third coming of the Messiah, to that of a manager constantly being ridiculed by former players. The cowardly smirking of Celtic reserve goalkeeper Scott Bain on social media (a pathetic trait that he has previous for) at McCann’s removal might have said more about the easily irked keeper than the punted manager. But with Julen Etxabeguren having already gone to the press with stories of a gaffer who would lose the rag at players after a defeat only to apologise once he’d had time to reflect, recently being backed up almost word for word by ex-Dee Kevin Holt, these stories are either true, or McCann gave his players more reasons than most to hold a grudge against him. 
      These three were not alone, the Dutchman (I wouldn’t quite call him a footballer…) Randy Wolters being quoted (in pigeon English by the ever (un)reliable Evening Telegraph) as saying he and the manager had patched up their differences after a fallout. While the scarlet pimpernel of the frontline, Marcus Haber, talked of suffering the same fate, but without the late season reprieve Randy received. So with all that in mind, the evidence does really begin to stack up.
      Even Dee legend and the man who rubbed copious amounts of salt into those dayglo gapping tear stained DAB wounds, Craig Wighton, hinted as he left for Tynecastle, that all was not well within the Dundee backroom. Yes, you could point to the fact that none of these players could hold down a regular place in McCann’s team (with all the chopping and changing he did, was anyone a regular??) but Faissal El Bakhtaoui also had a swipe at the management team (Graham Gartland has to take some of the blame too) as he left. While the freezing out of Darren O’Dea for long spells deserves some sort of explanation too.
      In the end, McCann was sacked for poor form on the park and an especially abysmal record at Dens, where home fans barely knew how to celebrate Benjamin Källman’s recent goal against Motherwell (his first for the club), so starved of the ball hitting the net have we become. And all that being tied to a pathetically poor product to watch, even though we were continually fed the fabrication that the football on offer was ‘entertaining’ - no Neil, it wasn’t. Fans had had enough and his removal and replacement by Jim McIntyre had been too long in coming. In fact, far too long. But I’m getting ahead of myself…
      When Hartley was removed, the appearance of McCann in his superhero cardigan was not so much a surprise to Dundee fans, but more of a complete and utter, where the hell did that come from, shock. McCann had admittedly served the club well in his first term at Dens as a player (who can forget his Coca-Cola Cup semi-final winning goal against Airdrie in Perth?), before coming out of retirement to help the club through its second period in administration (scoring one of the most celebrated late game-winning goals at Dens in living memory). But that still didn’t explain how he materialised out of the Sky (Sports studios) to take on his first real role in football management. It was a crazy appointment, but crazy appointments sometimes work… and it did. 
      With five games remaining Dundee bagged 7 points to secure safety through three backs to the wall, fighting, spirited displays. Something that was a heartening sight for a support who had been put through the mill in the months leading up to these unexpected events.
      It should have been a glorious swan song for a man who could across those three spells at the club be quite rightly viewed as something of a magician. But no, there was more. After having chased the then St Mirren manager Jack Ross (not Ross Jack as I have to remind myself every time his name comes up) halfway around Europe and still somehow failing to convince the man – a Dundee supporter, no less – to take the manager’s job, Dundee managing director, John Nelms dressed it all up, quite ridiculously, as an attempt to offload out of favour striker Rory Loy to the Paisley club... 
      Man up John and tell it like it is, eh? 
      Rather bizarrely, the man at the top then sidled back to his ‘get out of jail’ interim manager, who had already turned the full-time position down!! Lo and behold, without an interview process, without looking at other options and without, seemingly, a better idea, a pundit with basically no football management experience was handed a transfer budget. Allowing him to sign, across three transfer windows, something like 27 players (yes, really) and slowly rip the heart out of a squad that yes, had underperformed and yes, needed some serious augmenting, but which at least had a handful of players who knew the league and what it took to survive in it. Destined to fail? You betcha!
      Dither, dither, dither. As Dens burned, Nelms fiddled and diddled, watching defeat after defeat. One league win in eight games which was no surprise to anyone unlucky enough to watch Dundee regularly last season. And as if all that wasn’t enough we were also embarrassed at home by not one, but two Championship sides in the League Cup. 
      Then, with merely days left of a fortnight’s international break, the decision was finally made and McCann and Gartland were mercifully removed. Leaving any potential successor to have exactly two days with his new squad before what proved to be a disastrous managerial debut in Jim McIntyre's first game in a four-day doubleheader against new league sensations Livingston, before taking on table-topping Hearts. Madness.
      Along the way, Jim Jefferies, Mark McGhee, your Granny and my next door neighbour all seem to have been sounded out about being, well, not a Director Of Football, but some sort of advisor to McCann. Which translates into ‘we don’t believe you can do the job, son’. Although depending on what you believe, this ‘non-job’ would still have meant the removal of assistant manager Gartland. Jefferies turned it down, a series of events he happily told the press about even after the club denied they’d approached him (professional to the last). 
      McGhee? Well, he’s a buffoon, so let’s just leave that there and be thankful. How we then made the leap from, ‘here’s the help you need Neil...’ to ‘there’s the door mate…’ who knows? But it needed to happen and should have done weeks, if not months earlier.
      Welcome to Dens, in record quick time (what no interviews? No application process? No putting out feelers? Again?) Jim McIntyre, the ex-DAB (as was Tommy Coyne, so, you know, let’s put that to one side and see how he goes), who so far has made all the right noises in the media about turning the ship around, binning the style of play that became such a millstone around McCann’s neck and has experience of achieving safety with another seemingly doomed top-flight team in Ross County.
      So surely we can now all focus on the job. Galvanise the support and start winning games? 
      Oh no, not on your damn well nelly. Let’s instead take one of two men who have played for Dundee, had a previous, disastrous, management role at the club and has then been outed as voting for Dundee Football Club to die, and ask him to take on the role of the assistant manager! The very same position he’d been removed from by the club just before his unforgivable act. 
      Make it up? You couldn’t, could you? 
      Who’s more naive here? McIntyre? Dodds? Nelms? (Nelms even suggested that McIntyre’s escape act with Ross County – joining them when they were bottom and steering them to the safety of 9th in the league wouldn’t be enough for him to be happy!!! Get a grip man, everyone else will welcome 10th as though we’d just come first in a beauty gala, been presented with the rosette at the local gymkhana and collected £200 for passing go - all while blindfolded and hanging upside down wearing a straightjacket and with a lemon in our mouths!)
      But let’s be fair to these lads, because local board members like Steve Martin should have quickly been able to sense danger and steered John Nelms right before he had to face the press and talk of fan uproar. Either Mr Martin can’t see the wood for the trees, or he has less influence over what happens at the club than the DFCSS – and that would take some doing.
      Hence Nelms had to go to the press and explain that a fan backlash had delayed the appointment of an assistant manager for our new leader. But still, it’s not done. No confirmation that Dodds won’t be coming. No announcement of who will be. Instead, we were led into the Livingston debacle by a new manager, no assistant, self-inflicted egg on our face and almost more bad feeling towards the club than there was before they removed a manager nearly everyone wanted rid of.
      Our new first team guru must be wondering what’s he’s walked into. Welcome to Dens Jim McIntyre. I truly believe the fans want you to succeed, are willing to let your playing past stay there and want to have you at the club for a long time to come. 
      If the job wasn’t already hard enough, Dundee Football Club have done their utmost to ensure that it just became even harder.
    • By barkblue
      Since coming into the club in 2013 the American has now had to appoint, quite staggeringly, three managers, what with John Brown capitulating with the promotion finishing line in sight, Paul Hartley admitting he had run out of ideas as his team stared relegation in the face and now, the unbelievably convoluted removal of Neil McCann.
      Arriving after Hartley blurted out that he’d tried everything he knew as he failed to turn round the fortunes of his ailing squad, the tenure of Neil McCann went from the third coming of the Messiah, to that of a manager constantly being ridiculed by former players. The cowardly smirking of Celtic reserve goalkeeper Scott Bain on social media (a pathetic trait that he has previous for) at McCann’s removal might have said more about the easily irked keeper than the punted manager. But with Julen Etxabeguren having already gone to the press with stories of a gaffer who would lose the rag at players after a defeat only to apologise once he’d had time to reflect, recently being backed up almost word for word by ex-Dee Kevin Holt, these stories are either true, or McCann gave his players more reasons than most to hold a grudge against him. 
      These three were not alone, the Dutchman (I wouldn’t quite call him a footballer…) Randy Wolters being quoted (in pigeon English by the ever (un)reliable Evening Telegraph) as saying he and the manager had patched up their differences after a fallout. While the scarlet pimpernel of the frontline, Marcus Haber, talked of suffering the same fate, but without the late season reprieve Randy received. So with all that in mind, the evidence does really begin to stack up.
      Even Dee legend and the man who rubbed copious amounts of salt into those dayglo gapping tear stained DAB wounds, Craig Wighton, hinted as he left for Tynecastle, that all was not well within the Dundee backroom. Yes, you could point to the fact that none of these players could hold down a regular place in McCann’s team (with all the chopping and changing he did, was anyone a regular??) but Faissal El Bakhtaoui also had a swipe at the management team (Graham Gartland has to take some of the blame too) as he left. While the freezing out of Darren O’Dea for long spells deserves some sort of explanation too.
      In the end, McCann was sacked for poor form on the park and an especially abysmal record at Dens, where home fans barely knew how to celebrate Benjamin Källman’s recent goal against Motherwell (his first for the club), so starved of the ball hitting the net have we become. And all that being tied to a pathetically poor product to watch, even though we were continually fed the fabrication that the football on offer was ‘entertaining’ - no Neil, it wasn’t. Fans had had enough and his removal and replacement by Jim McIntyre had been too long in coming. In fact, far too long. But I’m getting ahead of myself…
      When Hartley was removed, the appearance of McCann in his superhero cardigan was not so much a surprise to Dundee fans, but more of a complete and utter, where the hell did that come from, shock. McCann had admittedly served the club well in his first term at Dens as a player (who can forget his Coca-Cola Cup semi-final winning goal against Airdrie in Perth?), before coming out of retirement to help the club through its second period in administration (scoring one of the most celebrated late game-winning goals at Dens in living memory). But that still didn’t explain how he materialised out of the Sky (Sports studios) to take on his first real role in football management. It was a crazy appointment, but crazy appointments sometimes work… and it did. 
      With five games remaining Dundee bagged 7 points to secure safety through three backs to the wall, fighting, spirited displays. Something that was a heartening sight for a support who had been put through the mill in the months leading up to these unexpected events.
      It should have been a glorious swan song for a man who could across those three spells at the club be quite rightly viewed as something of a magician. But no, there was more. After having chased the then St Mirren manager Jack Ross (not Ross Jack as I have to remind myself every time his name comes up) halfway around Europe and still somehow failing to convince the man – a Dundee supporter, no less – to take the manager’s job, Dundee managing director, John Nelms dressed it all up, quite ridiculously, as an attempt to offload out of favour striker Rory Loy to the Paisley club... 
      Man up John and tell it like it is, eh? 
      Rather bizarrely, the man at the top then sidled back to his ‘get out of jail’ interim manager, who had already turned the full-time position down!! Lo and behold, without an interview process, without looking at other options and without, seemingly, a better idea, a pundit with basically no football management experience was handed a transfer budget. Allowing him to sign, across three transfer windows, something like 27 players (yes, really) and slowly rip the heart out of a squad that yes, had underperformed and yes, needed some serious augmenting, but which at least had a handful of players who knew the league and what it took to survive in it. Destined to fail? You betcha!
      Dither, dither, dither. As Dens burned, Nelms fiddled and diddled, watching defeat after defeat. One league win in eight games which was no surprise to anyone unlucky enough to watch Dundee regularly last season. And as if all that wasn’t enough we were also embarrassed at home by not one, but two Championship sides in the League Cup. 
      Then, with merely days left of a fortnight’s international break, the decision was finally made and McCann and Gartland were mercifully removed. Leaving any potential successor to have exactly two days with his new squad before what proved to be a disastrous managerial debut in Jim McIntyre's first game in a four-day doubleheader against new league sensations Livingston, before taking on table-topping Hearts. Madness.
      Along the way, Jim Jefferies, Mark McGhee, your Granny and my next door neighbour all seem to have been sounded out about being, well, not a Director Of Football, but some sort of advisor to McCann. Which translates into ‘we don’t believe you can do the job, son’. Although depending on what you believe, this ‘non-job’ would still have meant the removal of assistant manager Gartland. Jefferies turned it down, a series of events he happily told the press about even after the club denied they’d approached him (professional to the last). 
      McGhee? Well, he’s a buffoon, so let’s just leave that there and be thankful. How we then made the leap from, ‘here’s the help you need Neil...’ to ‘there’s the door mate…’ who knows? But it needed to happen and should have done weeks, if not months earlier.
      Welcome to Dens, in record quick time (what no interviews? No application process? No putting out feelers? Again?) Jim McIntyre, the ex-DAB (as was Tommy Coyne, so, you know, let’s put that to one side and see how he goes), who so far has made all the right noises in the media about turning the ship around, binning the style of play that became such a millstone around McCann’s neck and has experience of achieving safety with another seemingly doomed top-flight team in Ross County.
      So surely we can now all focus on the job. Galvanise the support and start winning games? 
      Oh no, not on your damn well nelly. Let’s instead take one of two men who have played for Dundee, had a previous, disastrous, management role at the club and has then been outed as voting for Dundee Football Club to die, and ask him to take on the role of the assistant manager! The very same position he’d been removed from by the club just before his unforgivable act. 
      Make it up? You couldn’t, could you? 
      Who’s more naive here? McIntyre? Dodds? Nelms? (Nelms even suggested that McIntyre’s escape act with Ross County – joining them when they were bottom and steering them to the safety of 9th in the league wouldn’t be enough for him to be happy!!! Get a grip man, everyone else will welcome 10th as though we’d just come first in a beauty gala, been presented with the rosette at the local gymkhana and collected £200 for passing go - all while blindfolded and hanging upside down wearing a straightjacket and with a lemon in our mouths!)
      But let’s be fair to these lads, because local board members like Steve Martin should have quickly been able to sense danger and steered John Nelms right before he had to face the press and talk of fan uproar. Either Mr Martin can’t see the wood for the trees, or he has less influence over what happens at the club than the DFCSS – and that would take some doing.
      Hence Nelms had to go to the press and explain that a fan backlash had delayed the appointment of an assistant manager for our new leader. But still, it’s not done. No confirmation that Dodds won’t be coming. No announcement of who will be. Instead, we were led into the Livingston debacle by a new manager, no assistant, self-inflicted egg on our face and almost more bad feeling towards the club than there was before they removed a manager nearly everyone wanted rid of.
      Our new first team guru must be wondering what’s he’s walked into. Welcome to Dens Jim McIntyre. I truly believe the fans want you to succeed, are willing to let your playing past stay there and want to have you at the club for a long time to come. 
      If the job wasn’t already hard enough, Dundee Football Club have done their utmost to ensure that it just became even harder.

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