Paul McGowan’s ruthless assessment of Dundee’s season was “spot on” according to manager James McPake.
The experienced midfielder pulled no punches with a remarkably frank critique of the Dark Blues’ failings this season and didn’t spare himself either after Saturday’s 2-0 defeat at Ayr.
Now his boss has praised McGowan’s honesty and challenged the squad to prove their team-mate wrong by being “less of a soft touch” in the matches to come.
“He was honest and absolutely spot on,” said McPake.
“Fans want to hear honesty and Paul gives you that.
“I think he is right but the underlying thing with that is you can see how hurt he is.
“I’m not saying that Paul McGowan went out to tell the fans what they want to hear, he went out and gave his opinion which I think was right.
“Any time he speaks, he does so with passion. He loves this football club. This is his seventh year and he has played a lot of games.
“He was Player of the Year last season at an age when some people might be writing him off.
“It hurts Paul McGowan when we get beat. It hurts every player but for him, he is so invested in this club that he’s the one that it probably hurts as much as anybody.
“He is a fan of the club like myself. We came in at the same time and when you are at a club for so long, you invest yourself in it.
“It was refreshing to read as it went away from the cliches but it was the truth.
“I have no arguments at all with that.”
Asked if the comments will spur on his under-performing squad, McPake replied: “You hope it does, that they maybe read that and say, ‘Well, I’ll show him’.
“He is right in what he says but we are all hurting.
“I had no qualms at all about Paul going out and being as honest as he was.
“It is nothing that he didn’t say at half-time and the end of the game which is refreshing as well because in my opinion that has gone a bit from football.
“In Paul McGowan and Charlie Adam, we have two that will come in and dig each other out. There is more but I have just chosen those two senior players that are going in and pointing the finger and so they should be.
“But again, we all need to get our jobs right. I am not absolving myself from blame as it is me who picks the team and sets up the tactics but we need to be better as a group.
As a team we need to defend better and be harder to play against. We have to be less of a soft touch and a team that represents Dundee Football Club.
“I keep going back to it but I want a team that our fans can be proud of and no matter what happens, they can say, ‘They gave everything today’.
“I don’t think they could have said that on Saturday and that was the thing that made me really angry.”
The two early goals from Cammy Smith and Michael Moffat at Somerset Park on Saturday made it 15 goals conceded in the last four away matches for the Dark Blues.
That’s where McPake and his coaching staff are focusing their efforts this week ahead of a testing trip to high-flying Hibs in the Betfred Cup second round.
McPake wants to see some “nastiness” from his side at Easter Road on Saturday and accepts he has to up his game as manager also.
“This club doesn’t deserve that level of performance,” he said.
“If you want to be a player here, a manager here, you need to reach a certain level of performance.
“At the minute not enough of our group, including myself, are doing that.
“Like Paul McGowan said we all need to take a good hard look at ourselves.
“When you are conceding goals like that you give yourselves a mountain to climb.
“As a defender I would pride myself on clean sheets, on defending well, as does (assistant manager) Dave Mackay and every defender out there.
“That’s what we need to get back to – we need to be more horrible to play against.
“On Saturday in particular we were pretty soft as a team.
“It’s my job to get that right, my job to get players on the park that have that nastiness about them that’s required in this league. We do have them. We need to get it right quickly.
“Confidence is low. Our players do have it. Now it’s about making sure I pick the players I can trust to go out and do it.
“Ultimately the buck stops with me, I accept that.
“I’ve not been good enough.”