It is a rarity for me to be able to write about Dundee and the only reason I have this opportunity is down to abject failure from both city clubs. My own team failed to gain promotion (again) and for the fans at Dens Park it was a case of relegation after a disastrous season.
As a United supporter I actually thought that there were many similarities between this Dundee relegation and our own a few years ago –
The season started with Dundee playing quite nice and attractive football under a media-savvy, all style, no substance coach but they couldn’t convert the chances they created. Once the pressure built they crumbled and the reality of a psychologically weak group led by someone even weaker emerged (see Jackie McNamara…)
After the sacking of Neil McCann the club decided to turn towards a more ‘traditional’ manager who promised to make the team graft and make them harder to beat using a tougher, more combative style. After giving Jim McIntyre the role of manager there was a slight improvement and Dundee did become a bit harder to play against. Then, after a bad January window, the writing was on the wall once Dundee started to lose in almost every conceivable fashion (see Mixu Paatelainen…)
Questions have been asked of the decision making by John Nelms and he has been guilty of making calls without a huge amount of footballing experience (again, some slight similarities with a former chairman at Tannadice).
Things do seem to have picked up this summer and the club have made moves to steady things whilst also making improvements to the footballing structure at the club.
Transfers In – Jordan Marshall (Queen of the South), Declan McDaid (Ayr United), Jordan McGhee (Falkirk), Jamie Ness (Plymouth), Josh Todd (Queen of the South), Shaun Byrne (Livingston), Jordon Forster (Cheltenham Town), Danny Johnson (Motherwell)
Transfers Out – Nathan Ralph (Southend), James Vincent (Inverness), Kerr Waddell (Montrose), Andy Dales (Scunthorpe, end of loan), Seny Dieng (QPR, end of loan), Andreas Hadenius (Halmstads BK, end of loan), James Horsfield (Scunthorpe, end of loan), Ryan McGowan (Bradford City, end of loan), John O’Sullivan (Blackpool, end of loan), Ethan Robson (Sunderland, end of loan), Scott Wright (Aberdeen, end of loan), Dan Jefferies (Penybont), Jack Lambert (Scunthorpe United), Kenny Miller (Partick Thistle), Darren O’Dea (East Kilbride), Elliot Parish (St. Johnstone), Jesse Curran, Faissal El Bakhtaoui, Matty Henvey, Genseric Kusunga, Cedwyn Scott, Martin Woods
Transfer Window Success? – Looking at the huge number of players who left it was made fairly straight forward for James McPake in terms of building a squad. His wage budget and overall transfer budget would have been helped by the mass exodus at the end of last season. So far he and the Dundee board have recruited well and in a very methodical manner. They have identified areas needing quality and the players brought in are all of a good age and stage in their career. All are reasonably experienced campaigners and they all have knowledge of the Scottish leagues.
The Dundee squad still looks a little light in some areas but they do have a good crop of younger players to bring in if needed. Much will come down to how McPake manages his team and if the strikers can stay free of injury.
The Manager – A step into the unknown for Dundee by appointing such a young manager but they do have the benefit of handing the managerial role to someone who has a fantastic knowledge of the club and someone who knows everything about his squad. It also helps that they have brought in experience to sit alongside McPake and that they have made moves with the appointment of Gordon Strachan to ensure that behind the scenes there is a plan in place for moving forward.
The Hope – As I will touch on in my Dundee United preview I think that for fans in the city the season has two high pressure storylines running side by side. An obvious target for Dundee is an immediate return to the top-flight but the other ‘attraction’ is the target of outperforming their neighbours and coming out on top in the derby fixtures.
If United were not in the division the target would still stay the same, promotion, but with the added incentive it will be the hope of all Dundee fans to see their team win the league and get the better of Robbie Neilson’s side.
Further ahead it is the hope that McPake settles in well to his role and that the club gets back to a stability on the park. If they can introduce two or three new young prospects into the process then it could be a successful start to the next chapter at Dundee.
Look Out For – For me the league will be won or lost in the goals scored by the teams at the top. Dundee have retained Andrew Nelson but they have also added in a player who may well become a key figure in the title push. English striker Danny Johnson was signed from Motherwell and going on comments it seems as though many were surprised that the management team at ‘Well let him go. At 26 he will be looking to settle at Dundee and make a name for himself.
Another player to look out for, and one of the potential breakout stars of the league, is young midfielder Finlay Robertson. After a fantastic set of performances in pre-season and in the Betfred Cup, Dundee fans are very excited about the teenager.
Transfer and club information correct as of 30th July 2019