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    Rab Douglas: My Big Fear – Is It Too Late For Dundee?

    By UWTB1893

    I must admit that I thought the writing was on the wall for Paul Hartley after the 7-0 defeat to Aberdeen a few weeks back.

    You don’t often see a manager coming back from performances and results like that on their own ground.

    The Dundee directors have obviously given him a bit longer and would have been hoping for the best.

    Saturday at home to Hamilton always had the look of a must-win game and so it proved.

    I’ve got a lot of time for Paul and you never want to see somebody lose their job but, given the league position Dundee now find themselves in, I think he had to go.

    The big worry is, though, is it too late?

    Five games for a new manager is no time at all to change things around.

    I know Neil McCann from Scotland squads and then the Deefiant season. He’s got his coaching badges and has some experience as a number two at Dunfermline.

    This is something else entirely, though.

    The decision to appoint him is big, brave, bold and all the other descriptions that have been used.

    I’d describe him as team player. He came out of retirement to play for Dundee under Barry Smith and fitted in well.

    There were a lot of strong characters in that dressing room and Neil was one of them.

    You don’t get as far in the game as he has without being a strong character and I’m sure he’ll get respect in the current Dundee dressing room.

    The fact that he’s got so little time to turn things round makes it even more important to keep things simple.

    Paul changed the formation a few times over the season and maybe that caught up with him in the end. Neil certainly doesn’t have that luxury.

    He needs to choose the formation that suits these players best because he doesn’t have a transfer window. And he needs to stick with it.

    Boys need to be playing in their correct positions.

    Cammy Kerr is no more of a left midfielder than I am. Cammy needs to be at right-back.

    If he gets back to basics, gets a bit of confidence into the team and they can get a result at Motherwell then he’s got a good chance of getting away from second bottom.

    He has to hit the ground running.

    * It was a proud night when I was inducted into the Dundee Hall of Fame.

    Everybody knows that the club means a lot to me and I’ve got some special memories from my playing days at Dens.

    Being put alongside some Dundee legends was another special moment.

    Source: The Courier
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    • UWTB1893
      By UWTB1893
      And the former Dee favourite reckons the rookie boss can be their saviour again after answering another SOS from Tayside.
      Plenty of heroes were created during the ‘Deefiant’ campaign in 2010/11, as Barry Smith’s side somehow recovered from a 25-point deduction, swathing budget cuts and a signing embargo to retain their Championship status.
      However, the fairytale intervention by McCann that season was something special. At 36 years of age, having been retired for three years and already a pundit with Sky, he returned as a trialist in a league match against Raith Rovers – and scored a 90th-minute winner.
      Irvine still recalls the wild celebrations that followed the strike and reckons it summed up their great escape – a spirit which Dundee would do well to rediscover, with five games to salvage their top-flight status.
      He smiled: “When anyone asks me about my memories of Dundee, that is one that always springs to mind. It was such a difficult season, we were pulling trialists in from everywhere because of the signing embargo, and he actually came out of retirement just to help us out.
      “We were struggling to make up the numbers some weeks, and Neilly came in, despite having his work with Sky.
      “He was great in training, really fit and then he came on as a substitute and scored a wee looping goal against Raith – you couldn’t write it.
      “He took off towards the supporters and the whole place went wild, the celebrations were unreal. Everyone just piled on top of Neil!
      “I’ve been lucky enough to win leagues with Dundee, but that moment stands out because it just summed up how hard that season was – needing someone to come out of retirement – but how we somehow found a way to get over the line.”
      Irvine believes that decision to dust off his boots illustrated McCann’s love for Dundee, for whom he starred between 1992 and 1996, and has no doubt that will give him a burning desire to succeed after taking the top job on an interim basis.
      Irvine added: “It’s a tricky job for anyone going in there and, given Neil has a good gig at Sky, it would have been easy for him to say no. For the second time now, Dundee have come calling and he has said yes without hesitation.
      “That speaks volumes for the passion he has for the club and I’m sure he’ll be getting that across to the players.”
      While swapping the TV studios for the dugout may seem a left-field move – and proved an ill-fated one when Gary Neville joined Valencia – Irvine reckons McCann’s punditry pedigree will actually be a massive positive.
      Irvine, himself eyeing another escape from the drop with St Mirren, added: “He knows the game inside-out from his work with Sky, he knows the oppositions and can go straight in there with fresh ideas, while already knowing the club itself.
      “He is a great character and his knowledge of the game is second to none. Hopefully he gets the right reaction and they get out of that mess because, just like Neil, I still have a lot of affection for Dundee.”
    • UWTB1893
      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.
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    • UWTB1893
      By UWTB1893
      The former St Johnstone captain, who started his career at Dens Park, thought Paul Hartley would have kept his old club in the Premiership.
      And the fact that the Dark Blues have gone for a rookie manager to replace him has surprised the Stirling Albion boss.
      “I’m sure Dundee will still be fine but it is obviously a real concern being dragged into the bottom two,” he said.
      “Six weeks ago it looked as if they might have been the team to pip Partick Thistle for the final spot in the top six. But they have been on a terrible slide, losing seven in a row.
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    • UWTB1893
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