Jim McAlister is backing former team-mate James McPake to get Dundee back up challenging at the top end of the table after a sticky start to the season.
McAlister, who played alongside Dee boss McPake at Dens Park in the 2014/15 season, says he’s been surprised by his former club’s form in the early part of the campaign.
With a win, two draws and a loss to their name, it’s been an indifferent beginning to the term for second season boss McPake.
However, the now-Morton midfielder is backing his old pal to turn it around and get the Dark Blues back battling it out with the likes of Hearts and Dunfermline at the top of the Championship.
“I’ll admit, while I’ve been a bit surprised at Dundee’s start to the league,” the 35-year-old said.
“I’m also not that surprised they’ve gone to Alloa and struggled because a lot of teams will, it’s not an easy place to go.
“I’m surprised they dropped points late on against Raith but there is a different kind of pressure on them compared to everyone else and the same probably goes for Hearts, too.
“There’s a different kind of pressure on them to get out of the league because they’ve been in the Premiership in recent years.
“Board members and obviously management, players and staff are desperate to get back up there and sometimes that pressure isn’t easy to handle.
“Listen, James McPake has got a few new players in there.
“Once they bed in and realise what he wants from them and he gets his structure in place, then I have no doubt they’ll be challenging up the top end of the table come the end of the season.
“Then again, if they’re not it just proves that the Championship is the most competitive league in the country and that it deserves every bit of coverage that it gets, if not more.”
Former Hamilton and Blackpool man McAlister admits, however, the Jambos are still strong favourites for the title and that the Ton and the Dee may be left fighting for promotion via the play-offs.
He added: “Everybody knows how strong Hearts are with the international quality that they have in their squad.
“I think that you could throw a blanket over everybody else in the terms of the standard that’s being played.
“It’s going to be the team that’s the most consistent out with Hearts that’s going to cause problems and potentially make the play-off places.”