Paul McGowan says Dundee showed just how good a team they can be in a dominant first-half display in the win over Arbroath.
The Dark Blues have come under plenty of flak this season, including from their own fans, for a stumbling start to the campaign.
And McGowan was the most high-profile critic of performances, blasting his team-mates and his own performances as “pathetic” following a 2-0 defeat at Ayr.
Talking after the victory over the Red Lichties in their next league match, however, was a wholly different interview from the 33-year-old.
This one came after a much more positive showing from the Dark Blues, particularly in the first half, where McGowan’s superb goal in the 35th minute proved the difference.
In the opening 45 minutes, the former Celtic man was almost untouchable as he ran rings round the visiting defence and set up real chances for Christie Elliott, Max Anderson and Danny Mullen.
“In the first half we were terrific and moved the ball really well,” he said.
“The pitch was heavy but we created a number of chances and should have been two or three up at half-time but credit to Arbroath for their second half.
“I’m delighted though because we stood firm, got the clean sheet and the three points are the most important thing.
“If we carry the first half performance on for the season things are looking up.
“It’s a great victory and hopefully we can kick on. You can see the difference a win makes to the boys, it’s a totally different place.”
The only goal of the game came after McGowan had picked the ball up in the middle of the park and drove at the Arbroath defence.
After no pass presented itself, he sent an unstoppable shot with the outside of his foot past Derek Gaston – the Arbroath keeper who had denied both Elliott and Anderson from close range – that clipped the post on its way into the net.
“I had nothing on!” McGowan said.
“Usually when you hit them they are in row Z but as soon as I hit it I thought it had a chance.
“I’ve probably got a harder shot with the outside of my boot than the instep.
“Nothing was really on, I was looking for a pass but the coaches are on at me to shoot more.
“I’m delighted because we needed to get that goal because the longer it goes…
“You could see after the goal the boys started to knock the ball around.
“We nearly scored a wonderful goal between myself, Shaun Byrne and Danny Mullen. That’s what we can do.
“That’s what’s most frustrating because there’s a real good team here and we have done ourselves an injustice this season.
“Hopefully, we’ve turned a corner.
“We’ll still get stick but that comes with football.
“We just need to keep winning games and try to win people over.
“Take that first-half performance on and people will be happy. It was enjoyable to play in.
“The boys showed great character because we’ve been on a losing run.
“Hopefully, we can carry on up at Inverness next week.”
Arbroath came into the contest in the second half as they chased an equaliser and came close to levelling things up only for Dale Hilson to spurn a glorious chance and Jason Thomson to see a header superbly kept out by Jack Hamilton in the Dundee goal.
The level of defending was certainly a step up from the display at Ayr United that prompted a period of soul-searching for McGowan and his team-mates.
However, he says a clear-the-air meeting rather than his public blast has had a positive effect on the squad over the last couple of weeks.
“We had a meeting and there were a few words said,” McGowan added.
“I can’t say for one minute that interview spurred anybody on!
“A few things had to be said and you can see the difference in the team, there’s a buzz about the place now.
“I just hope we can carry it on because we work so well during the week.
“I make no bones about the interview I did. I included myself in it.
The amount of messages I got saying it was nice to see somebody being honest but I’m not going to come out and lie, I’m not like that.
“When we play well I’m the first to congratulate us and it’s frustrating because I know there is a right good team here, I work with them every day.
“It’s about taking that into a Saturday.”
He added: “I think if we have a result like that again, I’ll be off the interviews!
“I’m not proud of it, I don’t want to go and have a go at my team-mates but I included myself in it.
“Sometimes you need a boot up the backside – sometimes I need a boot up the backside – and that’s where the character comes from if they can come to me or Charlie and say we need more.
“Slowly but surely we are starting to show it.
“You have to set yourselves standards. We need to go on a run and start pushing up that table.
“It’ll be another hard game against Inverness next week, they are a good team but I am confident if we go up there and play like we did on Saturday we’ll get the win.
“But if we don’t show the same character and desire that we have shown in the last couple of games it’ll be a tough day for us.”