Dundee boss James McPake says neither he nor his ‘hurting’ side have given up on hunting down rivals Dundee United at the top of the Championship.
League leaders United sit nine points ahead of the Dark Blues after Friday night’s 2-0 derby win at Dens Park (see video below).
The gap is as big as its ever been this season. However, Dee boss James is unwavering in his belief his team have what it takes to close it and won’t give up without a fight.
And he points to their three-game winning run prior to the derby for proof they can do it.
“We’re at a football club where there is pressure to win every game so you’ve got to accept the criticism when you don’t,” he said.
“We got the plaudits when you go on a three-game winning run but we’ve got to accept the criticism.
“We need to get back to what we were doing well in that three-game run and we will. We’ll work ever so hard like we have been and it’s still early.
“We’re changing the mentality at the football club and that doesn’t happen overnight. United are in their fourth year, Hibs took a while, Hearts are one of the only ones that came down and went straight back up.
“I’m not giving up. We want out of this league at the first time of asking but, as I’ve said before, there’s a mentality change.
“Friday was a major setback but we’ll get back to winning games.”
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The Dark Blues will have to wait for their opportunity to bounce back from derby defeat with their next fixture at Inverness not until a week on Saturday.
With United welcoming Queen of the South to Tannadice this weekend, that gap could stretch to 12. However, James insists they are not focusing on that, only putting to bed the hurt of another defeat at the hands of their rivals.
So much so, a host of his first-team men took on St Johnstone in a bounce game on Tuesday.
James added: “We need to get it right here consistently and not worry about what’s going on elsewhere. If we win games the points gap will come down. It looked like we were starting to do that so we need to put this setback to the back of our minds.
“Do I want to be nine points behind? Absolutely not. I’d love to be the team nine points in front but we are where we are.
“What we can’t do is think ‘that’s it’. We won’t, I can guarantee that. The players have the character to make sure we don’t do that.
“I’m still confident we can put a run together. We’re in November and we need to get back to winning games. If they win every game we can’t catch them, simple as that, but that won’t happen.
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“We need to look after ourselves and get it right. For those three games and even the Partick game, barring a late collapse, it looked like we were getting things right.
“I believe we’re getting it right because I see the work we’re doing.
“I wish we were playing this weekend. We played a bounce game against St Johnstone on Tuesday. They had a lot of first-team players playing and we had some of ours who wanted to play.
“They came to me – Declan McDaid, Paul McGowan, Danny Johnson, Jamie Ness, Finlay Robertson, Josh Meekings, Cammy Kerr and Sean Mackie.
“Normally I would say ‘no’ if they’ve just played a game.
“Not only that, Kane Hemmings and Graham Dorrans came to the game and said ‘can we do running?’
“I love the fact that they’re hurting because I know that every fan that was in the ground and every fan that watched in on TV is hurting. They’ll be wanting to know, are our players hurting? I can assure them they are.
“I’m not looking for sympathy because we don’t deserve it – we’ve been poor in two derbies. We were poorer the other night than we were in the 6-2. That’s annoying for me.
“The players wanted to get it out of their system and I’m pleased that they came to me and did that. It reaffirms that it matters to them.”