Scottish Cup challenge won’t be a walk in the park says ex-Dundee defender

Bobby Mann

Former Dundee defender Bobby Mann has warned the current Dark Blues side they can’t take anything for granted against another of his old teams this weekend.

Championship side Inverness Caley Thistle are the visitors to Dens Park in the Scottish Cup fourth round this Saturday.

Despite a woeful start to life in the second tier, the Highland outfit have begun to put some form together as they chase down a play-off spot.

And Mann reckons the fact Dundee are just coming off the back of their winter break will level things up for Caley Thistle.

The 44-year-old Dundonian said: “Inverness still have plenty of players who’ve played in the Premiership in their squad, there’s still a bit of experience and know-how in there.

“It won’t be a walk in the park for Dundee by any means.

“Dundee’s cup form in recent seasons hasn’t been the best — last year against St Mirren was a similar game.

“Inverness, too, will see the break as a bit of a leveller, definitely.

“I remember being at Inverness and playing Hearts on the back of their winter break and beating them 3-1 in the cup at Tynecastle when we were still in the First Division.

“It’s a definite advantage.”

Back in 2003, Mann skippered Inverness against the Dark Blues in the semi-final of the competition, losing 1-0 on that occasion to a Georgi Nemsadze goal.

Back then Caley boss John Robertson was working the club up to the top flight.

Now he’s back in charge in the Highland capital aiming to repeat the feat and Mann has backed them for a shot at the play-offs.

“After a very poor start, they’ve improved and signed a couple of players,” he said.

“They sorted out their defence and had that great run without losing a goal.

“Back when I was there, when John Robertson came in he was excellent along with Donald Park, they were brilliant together.

“John was a very enthusiastic guy and Donald had all the experience and was one of the best coaches I worked with.

“Robertson was quite lucky when he came in because we had a settled team and didn’t have to change much.

“He brought in David Bingham and Barry Wilson back from Livingston who both made a difference the season we went up.

“It’s been different this time but they seem to be starting to gel.

“Inverness have been in good form recently and they’ll be out to keep it going at Dens.

“They are definitely a possibility for making the play-offs after their bad start.”

For Dundee, Mann is hoping they can keep the form they showed at the end of last year going by picking up a good first win of 2018 to set themselves up for a positive end to the campaign.

And he says keeping the back four of Jon Aurtenetxe, Josh Meekings, Jack Hendry and Cammy Kerr will be a big part of that.

He added: “The defence seems like a better unit since Aurtenetxe and Meekings have got up to speed.

“Hendry has done really well — he seems to have it all.

“He’s quick, strong, powerful and good on the ball. It makes you wonder why he struggled for game time at Wigan.

“Hopefully, Dundee are about to kick on now and the second half of the season isn’t spent scrapping around the bottom of the table and scratching around for points.

“Coming back from the winter break with a home draw in the cup, Inverness might see an advantage but Dundee will be raring to go.”