Dundee’s performance at Easter Road on Saturday was a baby step in the right direction.
But that’s all.
They went down fighting, which is the least Dees should be seeing from their team.
However, they still lost the game.
Their third defeat on the bounce.
And that’s where the the problem lies for manager James McPake.
What he needs more than a baby step is a grown-up stride to victory on Saturday against Arbroath.
Because it’s only results that matter and Dundee haven’t got nearly enough of them this term.
Despite defeat, the performance against Hibs could only be seen as a positive – purely because the one the week before at Ayr United was so, so bad.
This display was anything but.
On the whole, they defended well – something the Dark Blues have failed to do
consistently this term.
Lee Ashcroft was very good, aside from being caught out for the only goal of the game.
He looked far more comfortable next to Liam Fontaine.
The experienced defender seemed to add a calmness to the backline that hadn’t been there before.
In terms of sorting out their biggest problem – conceding goals – there was progress.
For under-fire manager McPake there was a team willing to fight for him.
That’s a very good sign for the coach – just look what’s happening to Neil Lennon at Celtic and the way his team is going about things.
A sizeable chunk of the Dundee support want a new manager in place, though.
There is no benefit of the doubt now given for McPake from the virtual stands.
The margin for error is far slimmer now than it has ever been during his reign at Dens Park.
I can’t imagine what fans will be saying should the Dark Blues fail to see off an Arbroath side yet to win in the league this term.
However, things are looking brighter for McPake.
Look at the squad he was able to name on Saturday at Hibs.
It was far stronger than any other he’s been able to pick this term.
Injuries seem to be easing, players missing through Covid-19 are back and the team as a whole is looking more balanced.
The emergence of Max Anderson has been a big part of that in my opinion.
He’s provided the legs and work-rate needed alongside Charlie Adam and Shaun Byrne, who has also been excellent, with no little quality.
I’ve also been impressed in the short time I’ve seen Alex Jakubiak on the field. He looks pacy, good technically and I expect him to be a handful for any Championship defence.
The Dundee manager will be feeling much happier about his team and his chances going forward this term.
The task now is to make the fans happy with their team’s results or these baby steps will be too little, too late.
GOING purely by the form tables at the Tony Macaroni on Saturday you’d put Dundee United as favourites at Livingston.
However, the departure of manager Gary Holt throws a spanner in the works of that sort of thinking.
Despite basing their bid for Premiership survival on their ability to pick up points at home, Livi have lost four of their last five in the league on their own patch.
That’s including damaging defeats to Hamilton and St Mirren, teams in and around them.
For Micky Mellon’s United, they are proving a tough nut to crack for opponents and are enjoying a seven-match unbeaten run with few goals conceded in there.
Their last three away trips, however, haven’t yielded any goals. Stalemates against the Saints – two at McDiarmid Park and one in Paisley.
So, normally you’d expect a tight affair with few goals thanks to neither side exactly banging the goals in.
However, there are now a couple of wildcards to throw into the mix.
For Livi, the departure of Holt has already given them a bounce against Ayr at the weekend with a 4-0 win.
For United, the ever-fitter and sharper Marc McNulty is looking better with every appearance.
He’s due a goal soon and, by his own record so too is Lawrence Shankland.
Saturday’s contest really is up in the air.
WHAT a mess the authorities are making of VAR and all these rules changes.
Whether it’s offside or the handball law, every little tweak made seems to complicate matters even more.
It’s remarkable we can look back on the old times of hand-to-ball or ball-to-hand with envy.
It didn’t seem to have so many problems – or penalties.
We need a simpler approach.
Go with the on-pitch official’s decision unless it can be seen within 30 seconds there is a clear error.
And for goodness sake, help the poor refs by simplifying the laws.