Things haven’t exactly gone to plan for Dundee so far this season but it’s not through lack of effort from new manager James McPake.
Losses in the two derbies so far has been a particular sore point for the Dark Blues but, with the weekend off to reflect on their campaign to date, James is looking at the many positives to be had from their first season back down in the Championship.
The expectation was, and still is, for the Dee to return to the Premiership at the first time of asking.
And that’s a pressure, not just the fans, media or players place on Dundee, but boss James himself puts on them to achieve.
For him, it’s got to be perfect, and although their form has been up and down a little, it’s hardly been a fairground attraction.
They’re finally starting to show a little bit of consistency, stringing together three wins on the trot before the 2-0 loss to United last week.
Rookie gaffer James needed that winning spell as he gets to grips with life in the hotseat.
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And, although he has all the required coaching badges, the 35-year-old has been taking courses in football management at Edinburgh Napier University alongside the likes of Mark Kerr and Christophe Berra, to get familiar with the business, political and man-management side of the game.
Those skills will come in handy throughout his career as a boss but also show just how invested he is in bettering himself and, as a result, Dundee.
That United are ahead of the rest in the second tier is of no surprise to anyone.
Their performances and results so far have them there on merit.
But James can look at what he and his side have achieved, so far, and be quite pleased, if not entirely satisfied, with the way things are going.
His signings have, largely, strengthened the Dark Blues, on and off the field, with quality and experience added in the form of Graham Dorrans, Kane Hemmings and the like.
He has progressed some talented youngsters like Fin Robertson and Josh Mulligan into the first-team picture, although, has admitted he has made selection mistakes along the way.
They remain well in the title race, sitting in the play-offs, as Christmas approaches. And, most importantly, he has lifted the malaise which lingered around Dens under Jim McIntyre and Neil McCann’s reign.
Good progress has been made and, regardless of what happens come May next year, the Dee are in the best place on the pitch they’ve been for a while.