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NEWS: GEORGE CRAN: Despite cuts, selfless act of youth coaches shows Dundee have a good thing going with their academy

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Hearing Dundee were cutting 16 academy jobs was heart-wrenching.

Mainly for the staff losing income, much-needed in these times, but also because Dees have seen this movie before.

It seems like whenever the Dark Blues get their youth academy shipshape and looking good, the rug gets pulled from underneath and they are back to square one.

That was my initial reaction.

Then came the further news that 12 of those 16 were willing to stay on in their roles for free next season.

That’s an amazing gesture.

It also shows that, just like we all suspected, Dundee have a good thing going with their youth setup right now.

With Stephen Wright at the helm and the expertise of Gordon Strachan as a technical director building on good work done by previous staff, everything was heading in the right direction.

Through no fault of the club, however, there’s no longer the money there to continue paying for that good work to go on.

Normally when that happens in a business, staff are made redundant and have to go searching for new employment.

Football, though, doesn’t work like any other business.

That these 12 are willing to keep working – and it is a lot of work – for nothing shows how enjoyable it is at the RPC Caird Park and Dens in the academy.

If things weren’t going well and there were problems left, right and centre, most would take redundancy and look for something better.

That 12 of the 16 didn’t, shows there something worth fighting for in the Dark Blues setup, something worth giving up a lot of your time for free.

And, by no means can you criticise any of the four staff who couldn’t work on a voluntary basis.

We just don’t know their individual circumstances and how much they depend on coaching and the income it brings.

My old Tele colleague Barry Smith is one who has left. I can’t go speculating on his reasons but it’s a real shame to see him leave the club again.

There aren’t many who have given more to Dundee than Barry, only Doug Cowie has played more times – he’s equal with Bobby Cox on 433 appearances – and obviously was the Deefiant manager.

It’s a sad consequence of the pandemic and the impact it’s had on the game we enjoy so much.

However, we have seen that even though finances have been hit hard at Dens, the academy will continue to thrive thanks to the selfless efforts of coaches.

DUNDEE United may have lost at the weekend but the 1-0 defeat to Celtic showed Micky Mellon’s side won’t be pushovers against the big sides this season.

The second half in particular showed there is a sizeable difference in quality between the sides.

There’s obviously no shame in that for the Tangerines, though.

They’ve just come up from the Championship while Celtic left a £4 million striker on the bench.

What United’s performance showed me is there will be no lack of desire and application coming from that squad under Mellon.

They were well-organised and stood up to Celtic for more than 80 minutes.

On the whole they defended the box well and can take plenty from the game.

They had some half-chances early on but the second half showed they need to add a bit to their
forward line if they are really going to make a mark this season.

The good thing is they won’t be playing Celtic every week.

And they’ve shown enough already this season to show they’ll be just fine in the Premiership.

I SAID last week I thought QPR had taken a gamble on spending £2 million on Lyndon Dykes.

That was before I realised how big a sell-on fee that would give Queen of the South. Roll that dice, Mark Warburton!

It could even reach a club-record fee received for a player which, I must admit, is mildly embarrassing. The record is £250,000 right now.

Great timing for a cash injection just when we need to rebuild an entire squad.

My hopes are higher for the new season now.

THIS weekend is Scottish football’s chance to show we can do things properly and safely with regards to fans in the stands.

Hopefully, all goes well and there are bums on seats for the start of the Championship.

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