TOM DUTHIE: Neil is still the best man to end Dundee’s dismal run of results

Neil McCann

Just under a year ago, Barry Smith, writing for the Tele, examined an abysmal run of Dundee results and urged manager-at-the-time Paul Hartley to stick to his principles and give himself the best chance of getting his team out of the mire.

It was sound advice and, incidentally, was much appreciated inside Dens Park. Barry, after all, was a man who knew better than most what these kind of sticky spells were like, not just because he has considerable managerial experience himself, but because he’d been through a similar run when he was Dark Blues boss trying to keep what was basically a second-tier team in the top flight.

Now, 11 months on, the advice he gave Hartley is just as sound for new boss Neil McCann as he battles to halt problems that predate his arrival.

Having been able to keep the team in the Premiership when he arrived as interim boss late last term, since being appointed manager on a permanent basis he’s set about changing the philosophy at Dens and produce a younger, robust team that plays a more open and attractive style of football.

As is so often the case with such projects, it has not been without its early difficulties, and Saturday’s ultimately-heavy defeat at Rangers left Dundee bottom of the table with just a single point from the opening five fixtures.

The gaffer, though, remains convinced his way is the right way and things will come good in the long term.

Despite the precarious league position, he does have at least some reason to believe he’s right.

If results have been depressing, generally speaking performances have been better than the scores after 90 minutes would suggest.

Even at Ibrox, Dundee held Rangers until just before half-time before then falling away as the second half progressed.

Dundee’s Sofien Moussa is inches away from levelling the scores early in the second half against Rangers on Saturday

Other games, such as the visits to Hamilton and Aberdeen, were all about missed opportunities and, had chances been taken, the outcomes could have been different. Dundee fans, though, are worried and understandably so.

Without wishing to concern them further, right now their team’s profile is that of one that could be heading for relegation.

Very often the team that goes down has not just had a bad season, the rot that led to the drop didn’t just start in that campaign, but earlier.

It was the case with neighbours Dundee United when they went down last year.

The 2015/16 campaign may have been one of the darkest in United’s history but, on reflection, the writing was on the wall when the slump in results kicked in from the end of January 2015.

And while the focus at Dens now is on events since this term kicked off, a glance slightly further back is alarming.

It shows Dundee have been in the doldrums since the beginning of March. Since then the league record reads won just two, drawn two and lost a concerning 13.

That’s relegation form and, on that score, the only consolation is this season is just five games old.

It means there is still plenty time for a team that obviously contains genuine talent to come good in terms of results.

It has to be a case, though, of sooner the better and a result when St Johnstone come to town this week would be more than welcome.

Against a Saints side that’s just two points off the top of the table, that’s not going to be easy.

For the manager, the best way of turning things round is to stick to what he believes in and, given his strong character, it’s a sure bet he will.

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