James McPake doesn’t hide his ambitions to be a manager but despite links to the vacant job at Livingston he says he won’t be leaving Dundee any time soon.
The 33-year-old feels he owes it to the Dark Blues to stick around and learn his trade after the club stuck by him through his lengthy injury woes and gave him an opportunity as a coach.
He said: “Dundee is a great place to learn and I feel I owe the club a bit as well.
“They were fantastic with my injury and have helped me with the coaching massively.
“I’ve been coaching first-team players and helping Neil McCann on match days.
“Jimmy Boyle, too, has been great to let me help him and to work with the U/20s alongside him.
“The club have been fantastic.”
Learning coaching in that kind of environment means McPake is in no rush to go anywhere.
That’s despite being in the bookies’ running for the manager’s job at Livingston after David Hopkin’s departure.
McPake started his career in West Lothian and made more than 100 appearances for Livi.
He insists, though, however tempting a return sounds, he’s determined to put the building blocks in place to ensure he’s a success in the future.
“I’m a young coach and it’s all about developing,” he added.
“It was quite an open fact I was linked to the Livi job – it’s a club that’s close to my heart but I’m happy at Dundee and I want to develop there.
“Every day at this club I think I’m becoming a better coach and that’s very important.
“When you stop being a player you don’t just automatically become a good coach, you have to work at it.”
It is hard work and takes dedication but McPake is loving his role at Dens and is currently in the USA coaching a Texan youth club affiliated with the Dark Blues.
“I’ve always wanted to be coaching at first-team level or managing,” he said.
“Two years ago I wouldn’t have thought I’d enjoy working with the youth players so much but I know it’s all about taking everything on board and using it as a learning experience to make me a better coach.
“Working up with 15s, 16s, 17s, every age has been great.
“They all want to be the next Craig Wighton or Cammy Kerr and break through to the first team.
“And it’s great for a youth coach to see players getting a chance in the first team. Neil told us that if he thinks young players are good enough he’ll stick them in and he’s done that.
“That’s great for us and a great selling point if we’re trying to convince kids to join us rather than somebody else because you can see the pathway.”
The former Livi, Coventry and Hibs man has learned plenty – good and bad – from every coach he’s come across but very much plans to be his own man.
“I’ve picked up lots from the managers I’ve worked under – Chris Coleman at Coventry was great and so have Paul Hartley and Neil McCann been at Dundee.
“I try to get bits and pieces from all the coaches I see, whether it’s good, bad or indifferent, and mould it all into the way I want to coach.
“Being able to text guys like Chris Coleman and pick their brains is fantastic.
“I’ve also seen some very, very bad things over my career and want to do the opposite!
“I’ve got my own take on how I want to go about it and the way I want the game played.”