From disaster to placing a shiny new award on the mantelpiece in the space of three weeks – welcome to the life of Dundee manager James McPake.
Under-fire after a dismal 3-1 defeat to Ayr United in March to this week holding aloft a Manager of the Month trophy after three straight league wins and a what-might-have-been against a top-six Premiership outfit in the cup.
It’s either delight or despair as manager of the Dark Blues but McPake insists he’d have it no other way.
“I don’t think at this club there can be a middle ground,” he said.
“There is that much demand, particularly in this league, for us to win every game.
“I’d rather have those demands and that pressure than be somewhere where it is just acceptable to do enough to stay in a division.
“The pressure isn’t something I shy away from, I actually like it.”
Despite that defeat against Ayr, Dundee finished the month of March with 12 points picked up from their six matches – the form team in the Championship.
During that time they saw off Inverness, Arbroath, Alloa and Dunfermline and scored 12 goals in the process.
McPake’s name might be the one on the trophy but he insists it’s an accolade for everyone involved at the club as they reignited their push for the play-offs.
“As much as it is an individual award, I see it as a collective one,” he added.
“The help the backroom staff give me as a young manager is remarkable. There’s a lot of people who need to be included in that and the players as well. They are the ones getting the results on the pitch.
“I am delighted to get it because it means we are winning games of football. Overall I’m just pleased for my players and the way they’ve turned it around.
“When there’s bad times like the 3-1 loss to Ayr at Dens it’s getting wee awards like this where you appreciate just how much people help you and stick behind you.
Ayr defeat was ‘a disaster’
“The Ayr United defeat at Dens was a disaster, take nothing away from that.
“It’s the nature of football now and it’s a learning curve for me as a young manager to cope with the pressure.
“When your team gets beat you have to accept the criticism and take it on the chin.
“What you can’t allow yourself to do is get snowed under with the criticism. If you do then you are doubting yourself all the time.
“Since then, it has been a big turnaround and I think that shows the character here.
“Alloa and Ayr are tough places to go, especially after what Ayr did to us at Dens.
“Then you throw in the Dunfermline game where we are 2-0 down after six minutes. To a man the players were outstanding.
“We’ve taken a lot of stick this season and rightly so but there’s a togetherness here.
“We used that as motivation and everybody in the squad is determined to get success at this club because it’s a fantastic club to work for.”