I wrote last week that Dundee’s match at Arbroath was the biggest in the fledgling managerial career of James McPake – now it’s this weekend at home to Dunfermline!
That’s the nature of being a football manager when things aren’t going to plan.
What I will say is that, although the Dark Blues’ performance wasn’t at the level we all expect, it was a step forward.
A very small one.
The rot was stopped, as much as losing games is concerned, and they could easily have won it at the end as they created a few presentable chances.
What Saturday showed me is a team very low on confidence against a Red Lichties side full to the brim.
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However, the second-half performance was certainly one of a team still playing for their manager.
That’s the critical thing for the Dens gaffer – if the Dark Blues players had chucked it, they’d have gone under at Gayfield.
They didn’t and it’s up to James now to build on the second half at the weekend.
I get that the supporters have had enough after years of disappointment watching their team but I’ll echo my colleague Lee Wilkie’s assertion that the manager needs to be afforded time to get things right. Chucking a manager after 20-odd games is far too soon to see whether he’ll be a success or not.
The team James has built is a good one – now he needs to find the combination that’ll unlock its potential and get the side back up the table.
I’ve said from the start of the season that I thought Dundee United would win the league, that’s obviously not going to change now.
What’s also not changing is my belief that Dundee will finish the league in second spot behind them.
It doesn’t look great right now but a seven-point gap to second place can be overturned.
At this time last year, Inverness were 11 points behind Ayr and finished two points above them.
The Championship is a streaky league – as you’ll hear or read every week, everybody can beat everybody in this division.
That means when a team goes on a run of good form, they shoot right up the table because everyone else drops points consistently.
Right now, Dundee’s streak is a bad one and they’ve dropped like a stone.
They have to use the second half at Arbroath as a turning point and build their confidence back up.
The defeat to United seemed to knock them for six – they desperately need to do themselves and the fans at Dens a favour this weekend.