Dundee boss James McPake says the Dens Park clubs was “on its knees” and morale was at “rock bottom” when he took over last summer.
The former Dark Blues skipper took his first steps in management 11 months ago following the club’s relegation to the Championship.
He says it has taken a while to make Dens “a happy place” again, with much of his side’s early season form inconsistent.
However, before the coronavirus shutdown, the Dee were on their best league run of the season, chalking up three wins and three draws from, what turned out to be, their final matches of the campaign.
On taking over at the club, McPake said: “It was a massive turnaround at the football club. For me, the club was on its knees.
“Not financially or anything like that but morale, the place was at rock bottom.
“Everybody was trying to do everything to liven the place up and get us going and get it back to being a happy place for people to come to work.
“I think now we are back in a situation where everybody feels part of it. At the minute it is a really good professional environment but there is more we can do to get better.”
Despite taking caretaker charge of the final match of the previous season at home to St Mirren, McPake admits his first game as full-time boss at Raith Rovers, a 3-0 win in the Betfred Cup, was a big moment.
“I was very nervous. It was my first real taste of (it being) my team – the St Mirren game wasn’t my team,” he said.
“This was my first game, our new team’s first game and a lot of new ideas had went into that pre-season.
“I was very nervous and probably only settled when the third goal went in.”
The Dens boss would go on to miss a home stalemate with Peterhead a week later due to the birth of his daughter.
Although it was tough to have to watch from afar, McPake knew he’d left the team in good hands with assistant Jimmy Nicholl and first-team coach Dave Mackay.
“I watched the full game from the labour suite,” revealed McPake.
“It wasn’t too difficult in the sense that I wasn’t there because, I’ll be honest, family is everything – whether it was a Dundee United game or anything, I was going to be at the birth of my child.
“My worry was the baby would arrive when we were up at Cove (in midweek) and I would struggle to be there.
“I watched the Peterhead game and I did try to get messages across to the staff, without being too intrusive.
“We had picked the team before and for me to be texting from a labour ward and they are seeing the game in real time would’ve been wrong.
“The messages I sent were very simple and we had Jimmy Nicholl – he’s played in two World Cups, managed a team that’s won our league and managed a team to a major trophy – and Dave Mackay had managed against teams in that league so we were in capable hands.
“We just weren’t good enough on the day, simple as that, and were very flat. That gave us an early indication of what was to come – teams just came, let us have the ball and sit in.”